Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 223

++ The Human Rights Council met in Geneva last week. A delegation of ex-MEK members attended and were able to meet with UNHCR officials as well. According to their report the delegation met with speaker Maziar Bahari, author of ‘Then They Came For Me’. Bahari, who is a fierce critic of the IRI, said ‘having been arrested in Iran and considering all that I went through in prison, I can say that from what we hear about the experiences of those inside the MEK, that is much worse than what happens under the IRI.”

++ Some commentators responded to Rajavi’s attempt to jump on the bandwagon of hijab protests in Iran. They say this is ridiculous. Rajavi forces women in the MEK to wear hijab even if they are not believers – she says it is a uniform.

++ Commentators republished the NCRI statement against the former members who had been interviewed by Albania’s Top Channel Fiks Fare satirical programme. They comment, ‘this is a clear example of Rajavi’s mentality’. They emphasise that in Rajavi’s jargon, when she says ‘agent of the regime’ she is issuing a death sentence and means that if possible they should be killed. Some writers commented further that Massoud Rajavi was never really against Iran, he has always been against his critics and ex-members.

In English:

++ Iran’s High Council for Human Rights issued a strongly worded statement in response to rumours that the death of an environmentalist in prison had been caused deliberately. The statement said that Kavous Seyed Emami had been arrested for “espionage charges under the cover of environmental activities”. It went on to criticise Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme Mr. Erik Solheim, for bias. The UN should have consulted first with Iran as a member state before making accusations. The statement continued with several points, including a warning that the US and other countries should not use the environmental agenda to interfere in other countries. A further abuse has been for the UN to give cover for terrorist organisations such as MKO, PJAK, Komala, Rigi, which have been variously supported as ‘human rights advocates’. As a member of the UN, Iran should expect its environmental work to be given “honest support” and not used as cover for interference by other countries.

++ James M Dorsey wrote a piece titled ‘The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer’ charting the rivalries between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the latest battleground for which is Azerbaijan. Here the evidence of religious and cultural influence has recently been characterised in the insulting chants of opposing football club fans. “Azar News, leaked in 2015 a letter allegedly written by Brigadier-General Gholam-Asgar Karimian, the club’s former chairman, detailing how Traktor Sazi [football club] could be used to unite Azeris against what the general termed ‘racist and separatist groups’. Azar is operated by the National Resistance Organization of Azerbaijan (NROA), a coalition of opposition forces dominated by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, a group that enjoys Saudi support but was tainted when it moved its operations in 1986 to Iraq at a time that Iraq was at war with Iran.”

++ Mazda Parsi in Nejat Bloggers makes a plea for MEK hostages to be informed about their rights. The article reveals how the MEK had manipulated the UNHCR into paying individual MEK members’ living expenses directly to the organisation. This meant that anyone leaving the MEK in Albania was left homeless and moneyless. This issue is now being resolved as the UNHRC has begun paying allowances for ex-members directly into their own bank accounts. It is the crucial responsibility of the UNHCR and Albanian government, says Parsi, to ensure that MEK members are informed about this so that they are not intimidated by the hardship of leaving the cult of Rajavi.

++ Iran Interlink republished two articles which show how support for the MEK can ruin people’s careers. Josh Hawley, who was paid by the terrorist MEK in 2016, is now running for Senate, presumably with the backing of the MEK. It is not clear whether his past will influence his chances of reaching the Senate.

February 23, 2018

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