According to Walk Free Foundation – movement to end modern slavery – near 46 million people of the world are trapped in modern slavery. The foundation which is in Australia defines slavery as “situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, and coercion, abuse of power or deception.” According to the foundation, in modern forms of slavery, a person is forced to work for free. It also includes, child slavery, forced marriage, domestic servitude and forced labour in which victims are made to work through violence and intimidation.
For those who have experienced living in the Mujahedin Khalq Organization, the above mentioned characteristics of modern slavery looks very tangible and familiar. They can even add more traits of modern slavery in the cult of Rajavi including forced marriage, separation of parents and children, sleep deprivation and a lot of other examples of human rights violations. RAND report commissioned by US Department of Defense found that the MKO is a cult that utilizes practices such as mandatory divorce, celibacy, authoritarian control, forced labor, sleep deprivation, physical abuse, and confiscation of assets, emotional isolation, and the imprisonment of dissident members.
While the MKO claims to be opposed to “any kind of exploitation of human by another human”, the truth of the life inside this cult–like group proves the opposite.
According to the Walk Free Foundation half of the victims of modern slavery are girls and women and 1/3 of detected victims of slavery is a child. As for the MKO Cult about 900 people out of its near 3000 victims are female and a large number of children of the group members have been also victims of its destructive cult-like system.
Based on testimonies of former members of the group such as Nadereh Afshar and Manizheh Habashi, children in the MKO camps were kept separated from their parents and forced to work. After the first Gulf War, children were sent to Europe where they were forced to beg on the streets to raise funds for the group. Forced begging is considered by Walk Free as an example of modern slavery in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America and in the Middle East. The foundation states that kids “are forced to beg on the streets by criminals.”
68 % of slaves around the world are subjected to forced labour. About the cult of Rajavi, approximately all members are subjected to forced labour. They have to work long hours of the day. They always suffer sleep deprivation. Former members of the cult of Rajavi describe exhausting working schedule in the MKO as useless tasks that was supposed to keep them busy. Zahra Mirbaqeri recalls that she was forced to carry a heavy bag of stones from a place to another. She had to run while carrying an 80-kilo-weight bag.
The Walk Free Foundation also clarifies that in modern slavery systems, victims are kept behind closed doors. Members of the Mujahedin Khalq are not allowed to call or contact anyone outside their camps. They are barred from using phone, and the Internet. The news of the outside world is filtered by the group authorities. They are only fed with the group’s propaganda media.
Victims of the MKO are kept in the group’s camps in Iraq, Albania and France. They are living under the most tyrannical supervision system. Those who succeeded to escape the MKO actually risked their life because Massoud Rajavi has told them that the group has no exit door – see Human Rights Watch report on the abuses in the MKO titled “No Exit”, published in 2005. The walk Free Foundation says, “Victims say those who are caught trying to escape can be killed or thrown overboard. “
Sexual labour is another example of human rights abuse that is taken place in modern slavery, according to the foundation. This crime has been widely committed by the MKO leader, Massoud Rajavi. He is the only person in the cult who has the right to get married and to have sexual relationships. So, he authorized himself to have sex with a number of female members of the so-called Elite Council of the cult. Batoul Soltani who is a defector of the MKO Cult revealed Massoud Rajavi’s sexual crimes.
The Walk Free Foundation presents statistics and information on slavery around the world such as Thailand, UK and etc. It tries to inform the world on the huge human rights violations that are committed today in modern societies. Victims of the Mujahedin Khalq cult should be considered as part of the bog population who suffer modern slavery. The case of the MKO victims seems to be more critical because of the pro-democratic gesture of its leaders and its propaganda. In fact, members of the MKO Cult are exposed to the most horrible human rights violations despite the group’s propaganda claims for democracy and freedom.
By Mazda Parsi