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Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 203

++ Among the reactions to Zahra Merrikhi’s appointment as head of the MEK, some commentators remind us this is the fourth time a Secretary General has been announced. The first time was when Massoud Rajavi introduced Maryam as Secretary General of the MEK and everyone immediately asked, ‘then who are you’? He told everyone to shut up because it was never actually in question that he is in control of everything. In view of this, commentators say, this title means nothing. Nothing changes, just the names. The reality is that dead or alive the cult is based on him; there is no ‘election’ the whole group is based on his name. Some commentators scoffed ‘with this ridiculous appointment they dare to criticise elections in Iran and other places!’ Mehdi Khoshhal’s article, titled ‘The Albanian Zorba’, compares the scene from the film in which the village women gather outside the brothel of Madame Hortense as she is dying in order to take her belongings. Now that Massoud Rajavi is dead, the women of the MEK are queuing like vultures, waiting to get something from him for themselves.

++ In Albania, after the MEK said it would no longer pay UNHCR allowances to the former members, seventy people visited the UN office to demand their right to get their refugee allowances directly. Others have joined the protest to the point that Maryam Rajavi withdrew the threat and her lawyers have told the UN there had been a mistake and that the UN didn’t need to do anything as the MEK would pay the money in full to the formers.

Naturally the ex-members say they don’t trust the MEK and they continue their demand to be paid directly. The formers planned a demonstration outside the RAMSA office, but the Interior Ministry refused permission. The formers – through their lawyer – told the ministry and Albanian newspapers that they would ‘go ahead anyway and the police can arrest and imprison us’. On the day of the planned demonstration, the UN told the formers’ lawyer ‘don’t let them demonstrate, instead they should open bank accounts and we will pay them’. The lawyer – who is working pro bono – responded that ‘if the UNHCR does not do this, we will take them to court and they will have to pay the court fees and my fees on top of whatever allowances are owed to the former members.’

++ Meanwhile, since this situation developed, MEK henchmen have been stationed outside the UN office in Tirana supported by members of the Albanian security services. Their role is to intimidate any former MEK member who goes in and out of the building. However, in articles by ex-members, they say that the fear has spilled, they are no longer afraid. ‘Tactics like taking our pictures, filming us and threatening us have no effect. We will not stop until we get our rights.’

++ Every several months, Radio France Culture has a ridiculous interview with Maryam Rajavi about feminism or women’s rights etc, which everyone knows is paid advertising. After one such interview this week, some female ex-members wrote an open letter to the radio station asking them to respect the right to respond. They said, ‘for every ten interviews with Maryam Rajavi could you please broadcast at least one line from the ex-members in answer to three or four questions about how Rajavi treated women members inside the MEK. Zahra Mirbagheri, who suffered massively inside the MEK, has accused Radio France Culture of destroying the reputation of French human rights advocacy just for a few pennies. ‘You should not broadcast an advert without saying it is an advert’, says Mirbagheri. ‘And if you do, you still can’t, by law, tell lies in adverts, there has to be some truth in what is said.’

++ It has just emerged that Maryam Rajavi has written personally to the UNHCR in Geneva about the issue of refugee allowances. In her letter, she mentioned ‘a petition with 70 names’. The lawyer of several former MEK members and Sahar Family Foundation responded, saying ‘we must investigate how this petition, which was given directly to the UNHCR in Tirana, has been seen by Maryam Rajavi. This is a sign of corruption. The fact that immediately after the announcement of a demonstration by these formers, she did a 180 degree turn and now says there has been a mistake shows there are plots and collusion against the ex-members. The fact that the UN has now had to deal directly with the formers and couldn’t work to her agenda has exposed the corruption within this system.

In English:

++ Iran Interlink marked the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy by reminding us of the MEK’s reaction. Massoud Rajavi gathered his forces and celebrated the horrifying act of terrorism. He told his followers he believed they could do better!

++ Sahar Family Foundation published a petition which had been presented to RAMSA – the department responsible for the former MEK members at the UNHCR office in Tirana. The demands are:

  1. Our refugee allowances be paid by RAMSA and we be supported by the United Nations in Albania
  2. Work permits and jobs are granted to us in order that we are able to support ourselves.
  3. Our Refugee Status is officially issued in order that we can receive our righteous benefits.

++ A Nejat Society article says the MEK is losing support as those who lobby for them – such as John Bolton – are themselves losing traction in the political scene in America.

++ Habilian Association has written an expose on the “Republicans’ favourite Democrat’, Joseph Lieberman. The article runs through his background, identifying him as a neocon associated with AIPAC and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Lieberman opposed the nuclear deal with Iran and has taken a staunchly anti-Iran stance on every issue including Syria and Iraq. The article points to Liberman’s advocacy of the MEK but says “While Lieberman, General Jones, and Colonel Martin all failed categorically to accurately describe the true nature of the MEK terrorists they seek to support in a proxy war with Iran, the US policy papers these three lobbyists are reading from have done so and in great detail.”

September 15, 2017

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