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Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 222

++ The main news this week came out of Albania – translated into Farsi and English.

++ In his show ‘This is Moscow’, Kastriot Myftaraj identified the businessman involved in the construction of the MEK’s new training camp in Albania as Fatmir Kuci. The logo of his company ‘Victoria Invest’ is written on the side of vehicles at the site.

++ Top Channel TV’s Fiks Fare, a popular investigative satirical show, exposed ‘the truth about the MEK’ using the testimony of three former MEK members in Albania. The show focused on 200 members who have escaped the MEK and now live without economic support or legal status in the country. The show again revealed that the MEK training camp in Manzë in Durres was already under construction before a permit had been granted. FARA association which applied for the permit was only registered as a legal entity on 8th February 2018 after being exposed by investigative journalist Gjergj Thanasi in October last year. The testimony of three former MEK members again exposed the scandal behind the MEK’s presence in Albania. None of the “3,000” members or the 200 ex-members have any legal status in the country and no independent financial support.

++ The MEK responded to Top Channel TV by issuing a statement which was published uncritically by at least two Albanian media outlets. The statement accused its critics (former MEK members) of being from the “Gestapo” Intelligence Ministry (MOIS). The statement did not seek to address the allegations made in the Fiks Fare programme.

++ A delegation from the European Parliament visiting Tehran held meetings with the victims of the MEK (families of those assassinated by the MEK and families of current members being held hostage in Albania).

++ Also this week, Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaie met with the French Ambassador to Iran and in that meeting touched on the MEK presence in France and the duty of France under international law to curtail terrorist activities. (Reported in English by IRNA)

++ Commentators have written more about Iranian women’s protests against forced hijab as Maryam Rajavi remained silent on the issue. The MEK’s third party outlets even go so far as to say that these protests are not right and are against the strategy of toppling the regime. Some started their own hashtags to counter the protests. Many writers assert that Rajavi is worse than the current regime (in relation to women rights) because even inside the regime some believe that hijab should not be compulsory, but the MEK practices even greater gender restrictions and segregation than inside Iran. Some have commented that at least the regime does not expect all Iranian women to divorce and leave their children and become full time wives of the leader (as was done in the MEK by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi).

In English:

++ On the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, Nejat Society published a piece looking into the MEK’s recent history of violence in Iran. Evidence shows that much of this was directed against civilians, including women and children. The MEK was involved in over 200 mortar attacks between 1998 and 2000, leading the US think tank Brookings Institute to identify the MEK as a potential proxy for regime change. Nejat tells how the MEK glorified these acts of violence in their internal publications and websites.

++ Open letters from former MEK members Mohammad Razzaghi and Ali Hossein Nejad in Paris, to Albania’s Deputy Interior Minister Rovena Voda, warn of the dangers posed by the MEK presence in her country.

February 16, 2018

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