++ The families have been busy writing to various organisations to get help, in particular the UNHCR. They complain that in both Iraq and Albania, the local UNHCR officials are under the control of Massoud Rajavi and playing into his hands, whether by denying visits in Iraq or by refusing to accept the people in Albania as individuals. The UNHCR office in Tirana sends them back to the MEK telling them “they are your lawyers”. This has made it extremely difficult for people to get out of Iraq or to leave the MEK once in Albania.
On this issue of the families, irandidban website has a short comment titled ‘Iran is obliged to help the families of the people stranded in Camp Liberty’. The article says that families who visit Iraq from Iran must naturally be given consular support by their country. In the same way, families who visit or campaign from other countries must be supported by those other countries – which includes the families in London like the Mohammad Rahimi father and son. The concept that the MEK is labelling every family that wants to visit their loved one as an agent of the Iranian regime is the most ridiculous thing and is irrelevant to the task of the families. Their task is concerned with basic human rights which are not related to or affected by anyone’s allegiances or job in any way. The UNHCR should follow the law and not be intimidated by the MEK’s phobias and threats which are all just words.
++ This week people have continued writing about the pitiful situation of Ebrahim Mohammad Rahimi and his son who want to talk to the wife and mother, but are denied by Maryam Rajavi and the MEK.
++ The reaction to Rajavi’s silence over the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia was to compare this with the MEK’s very overblown and public weeping and commiserations following the death of Zahran Alloush, the leader of Jaish al-Islam. Many writers talk about the mercenary relation between Massoud Rajavi and the Saudis going back to the time of Saddam Hussein, with some articles accompanied by documents and pictures of Rajavi travelling to Riyadh to collect his money. They remind us that the Saudi owned al Arabiyah TV replaced Baghdad TV to broadcast the MEK’s propaganda and interviews with Maryam Rajavi, etc. Some articles position the MEK as sitting somewhere between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Among them Dr Mohammad Sahimi, a prominent lecturer from the US, wrote an article expanding on the significance of Sheikh al-Nimr within the history between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In this analysis he includes a section discussing the Iranian opposition outside Iran. In this he says the most shameful are those who call themselves Iranian but who, at this time, take the side of the Saudis. Those who work for al Arabiyah or other media outlets may have an excuse because it is their job. But those who take backhanders and don’t openly claim any relation are truly despicable.
++ Farsi comments have gone to town over the Christmas activities of Maryam Rajavi. She has gone to a church in Paris and instead of joining the ceremony has positioned herself at the head of all the priests, attendants and congregation and pretended to pray. This has been ridiculed as the dirtiest kind of self-promotion. An article by Zahra Moini from the Iran Women’s Association reminds us of Edvard Termador, an Armenian Christian, who while inside the MEK was forced to denounce his faith and announce he has become a Muslim. At the same time, the MEK would parade him around the Christian churches in Baghdad to pretend they have Christians among them as well. Moini reminds us of Termador’s testimony as well as others that the only other Christian in the MEK, a man called Phillip, was killed when he protested and refused to give up his religion and tried to run away. Zahra has attached documents showing how Edvard Termador managed to contact the Pope who then arranged safe transit for him out of Ramardi camp – where he was hiding from the MEK – to Europe.
++ Emma Ashford in The American Conservative writes that ‘Exiles bend Washington’s ear—and drag us into conflict’ using Ahmed Chalabi as an example of exiles who want to influence American foreign policy for their own agenda. “Policymakers in Washington are not blameless in this. A recent invitation by Congress to the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition group, to testify before the House Subcommittee on Terrorism on issues relating to Iran and ISIS highlights how little scrutiny such groups sometimes face. Though certainly a vocal opponent of the regime in Tehran, MEK was only removed by the State Department from the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2012, after heavily lobbying Congress. The group is communist and is often described as a cult. It is so extreme and so unrepresentative of the Iranian opposition in general that other regional experts testifying before Congress refused to appear on the same panel.”
++ Mazda Parsi writing in Nejat Bloggers explains that cult members like those in the MEK are deliberately made terrified of leaving their group. Parsi says the way to rescue such people is to first remove them from under the hegemony of the cult leaders. In Iraq, the UNHCR must cooperate with the families of Camp Liberty residents to open the gates and allow them to leave and get help.
++ Nejat Society reports on what is happening inside the MEK‘s closed camp in Albania. Since the relocation of hundreds of people from Iraq, defections have increased dramatically. One defector, using the pseudonym Mehdi Tofiqi, describes panic among the leaders and a subsequent tightening of control over everyone. He says that contrary to conditions in Camp Ashraf where all the members were in one place, Rajavi now tries to isolate people in small groups in dormitories where the windows are covered in newspaper to prevent people looking in, or out. Female commanders have been sent from Paris to reinvigorate the brainwashing sessions. In addition, spies are distributed throughout the population to report on any signs of dissent.
++ The letter of one mother to the High Commissioner of the UNHCR makes a very simple and logical point: “I am Mahnaz Akafian, the mother of Mohammad Ali Sasani, who was a prisoner of war in Iraq but he is now prisoner in MKO in Iraq. I have not had any news from my son for 28 years. Some time ago I went to Ashraf Camp and more recently I went to Liberty Camp in Iraq to find him. Unfortunately, I did not get any result. I do not know if humans have different rights. I ask you a question as a human rights representative. If a person is in prison and is condemned to death, do they have the rights to have contact with and see their family members? We ask from the MKO that we see our children. Even if we are guilty of all the sins they accuse us of, why shouldn’t we be allowed us to see our children? So many fathers and mothers were not allowed to see their children and they died. With this weak body of mine I ask, let us meet our son! Kind regards, Mahnaz Akafian, a mother, 7 January 2016.”