Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 248



++ Several MEK survivors have published accounts of recentevents, in particular Mohammad Azim Mishmast and Gholamali Mirzaei. The news isabout the people who have left MEK but are still paid by the group on conditionthey remain silent and do not speak about the group. This week when they wentto collect their MEK money they were shown photographs of Mishmast, Mirzaei andsome others alongside their families and children who are not in Albania. MEKtold them, ‘If you talk to these people you will get no money’. They were thenbriefed on behalf of Maryam Rajavi that ‘the enemy’ are the ex-members. Theyare the forefront and we are keeping our bullets for them. The writing of thesurvivors say it is obvious that even their supporters in America no longergive a damn about them, so in order to keep people on board they threaten themlike this to divert attention from the main issue which is that even as amercenary force they are not needed.

++ Zahra Mirbagheri from Nejat Association has published a screen shot from an MEK site which shows Maryam Rajavi, Struan Stevenson and a couple of other permanent lobbyists, with the title ‘They meet each other, they take pictures and they pretend it’s a discussion’. Mirbagheri gives links to every one of these people who have openly lobbied for MEK for years and who each head different organizations which have been created by MEK. Mirbagheri goes on to say that this is the level they have been reduced to after they have achieved nothing. They have even lost the actual support of the likes of McCain and Bolton etc.

++ A week-long Exhibition and introductory Speakers panel were held at the Press Club in Brussels this week, organised by Aawa Association of Germany. The panel was chaired by Reza Jabelli, Service Etat Civil et Population. Panellists were Anne Khodabandeh, Open Minds, De-Radicalization Consultant, and two female MEK survivors, Batoul Soltani and Homeira Mohammad Nejad.

In English:

++ Arron Merat’s Long Read article for The Guardian ‘Terrorists, cultists – or champions of Iranian democracy? The wild wild story of the MEK’ was released as a podcast. The article says MEK are promoted by Trump White House hardliners as tools for regime change, but ex members accuse Maryam Rajavi of coordinating routine sexual abuse inside the cult.

++ After Sokol Balla, a presenter on Vision Plus TV in Albania, was taken to the camp in Manez by the MEK, several people wrote objecting to his report. The writers accused Balla of taking part in a whitewash of MEK history and gave accounts of their own experience inside the MEK. One said, “I suggest that the next time you want to report about the MEK, it would be better to ask them about their past, about forced divorces, working with Saddam Hussein, and imprisonment and torture inside Camp Ashraf. And in addition, invite investigative delegations to establish the truth.”

++ Mazda Parsi of Nejat Bloggers writes about the interview by Der Spiegel with MEK survivor Gholam Reza Shekari who left thegroup in Albania in 2017. Parsi refers to the 2005 Human Rights Watch report‘No Exit’ which detailed torture and murder of internal dissidents in the MEK.Shekari is one of those victims who can now recount his experience andknowledge of what the MEK did at that time. “Shekari spent 27 years of his lifein the cult-like MKO. He was only 20 years old and willing to find a good jobin Europe when he was recruited by the MKO in Iraq. The MKO agents promised tohelp him get the European visa only if he stayed in their camp for a fewmonths.

As soon as he entered the organization, they confiscated his ID documents and never gave him back. ‘whenever I asked for my ID, they would say that they had no idea where it was’.

Thus, Shekari had no way out of the MKO camp but he frequently used to ask the leaders when he could leave the cult. This question was considered a sin by the leaders. Departure from the MKO was forbidden and showing your willingness for leaving the group would be faced with suppression, imprisonment and torture. So he was imprisoned in solitary confinement.”

++ James Carden with Dr. Trita Parsi, The Nation, ‘The Trump Administration Rattles the Saber at Iran’ This is a Q&A with Dr. Trita Parsi, author of Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy. Parsi analyses current US policy toward Iran, saying he believes Trump does not want war or regime change, but wants ‘regime collapse’ in which Iran is plunged into chaos but America is not responsible for creating an alternative government. According to Parsi, MEK’s role in this scenario is thus: “Whereas the MeK is of little use if the objective is regime change, due to their immense unpopularity in Iran, the Trump administration seems to believe that they can be helpful for regime collapse and a potential Civil War, mindful of this terrorist organization’s extensive experience in sabotage, terrorism, assassinations, and even regular warfare.”

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