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Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 127

++ In the UK, long-time MEK supporter Ebrahim Mohammad Rahimi is dying of brain cancer in a London hospital. His son Sepher Mohammad Rahimi also in London wants to contact his mother, who is in Iraq. The MEK’s response is swearing and defamation – saying Ebrahim has covertly worked for the Iranian regime for many years. This week, Sepher wrote to the UNHCR and the ICRC refuting the MEK’s statements. He added, “during the ideological revolution inside the MEK, my mother divorced her husband. That has nothing to do with me. Why is she refusing to speak with me, her child? Neither I nor my father have ever said a single word against the MEK. Please arrange contact with her before he dies.”

++ There have been several articles about the MEK reviewing the past year and speculating what the future will bring for the group. The situation of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty are dominant in this writing, as is the loss of the atomic issue as a platform. With all these setbacks, many predict the end of Rajavi and his cult as a viable organisation. There are signs coming from Albania – where people arrive and then quickly disperse and disappear – that the MEK will soon stop trying to keep face as it shrinks to a small group.

++ As the families of Camp Liberty residents become more successful in getting the UNHCR and the Iraqi authorities to act to help free their loved ones, the MEK has embarked on a counter campaign. The message is that ‘Iraq will not grant visas to genuine families and this proves that the families visiting Iraq and Camp Liberty are all “agents of the Iranian regime”.

In order to provide evidence of this, the MEK has contacted some families who live outside Iran, mostly in Europe, and told them to fill in visa applications for the Iraqi embassy, but instead of submitting the documentation, to hand it over to the MEK which will pursue it on their behalf. The MEK then submits an incomplete or wrong application in order to manufacture a default rejection. They then publicise this as a rejection on the MEK websites. Some families have exposed this scam on Facebook and other social media. One says “I want my son out of Iraq but you [MEK] are asking me to go there!”

The MEK have also asked a few families in Iran who still have some sympathy for the group, to do the same thing. Telephone numbers used to call Iran are: 0044 2070 978 509; 0059 162 604436; 0088 622 740879. Families in Iran have said the MEK call using these numbers, but pretend to be families in Iran themselves saying “they don’t give us visas from here” and asking if there are plans to go to Iraq. The MEK is trying to get information from them about any proposed visits to Iraq. While doing that, the MEK announced that 400 families signed a petition against Iraq not giving visas. There were no names as usual.

In response, Atefeh Eghbal – who is not against the MEK but is running a campaign from France for them to be moved to third countries – says this petition is obviously made up. “I have been with you and know you don’t have contact with that many families. I do have contact with many, and most don’t like the MEK. It is clear to everyone, the UN, ICRC and Iraq all say it is you who are stopping the Camp Liberty residents from leaving. The issue is not about families.” The MEK has viciously attacked Eghbal using extreme language. One attack accused her, among other things, of being a narcissist. Sahar Family Association in Baghdad has given dictionary definitions of these terms and said this exactly describes Massoud Rajavi.

++ The annual NCRI meeting in Paris has been criticised. Commentators say “shame on you for getting money from Rajavi while MEK members are dying”. The NCRI announced its support for terrorism and sent condolences for the deaths of terrorist leaders calling them martyrs. Commentators condemn the French government for permitting support for terrorism from their country.

In English:

++ Mazda Parsi in Nejat Bloggers explores the ‘True Threat of Terrorism: Human Beings who turned into “acolytes” of Rajavi’. The article begins: “Over the past decades, much of the attention of the world has been focused on the radical extremist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. But the true threat actually comes from the cult-like structure of these groups. Cult-like controlling system and the indoctrination methodology of these groups finally results in the most horrible acts of violence. The Mujahedin Khalq Organization (the MKO/MEK) is characterized as one of these destructive cults that threaten the world’s security.”

++ Daniel Larson writing in The American Conservative warns ‘Beware of Exiles and Their Promises’. The article highlights the MEK as an example: “…Most Iranians in Iran and around the world detest the MEK for good reason, but to listen to their many fans in and out of government one would think that they are a democratic government-in-waiting and that cult leader Maryam Rajavi is Liberty incarnate. That allows many Iran hawks to align themselves openly with a group that is rejected by Iranians everywhere while presenting themselves as champions of the “Iranian people” against their government. The views and preferences of the people in the other country are of no concern for the hawks except insofar as they can be misrepresented to support their preferred policy. The exiles pretend to speak for their country, and their patrons here pretend to believe them. Maybe a few are genuinely gullible enough to believe that a totalitarian cult is Iran’s real “secular, democratic opposition,” but most can’t be that clueless and are cynically indulging a horrible organization for their own reasons…”

January 1, 2016

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