“Family, I hate you”. This citation from André Gide, the French author and 1947 Nobel Laureate can be described, with no exaggeration at all, as Massoud Rajavi’s motto. After all, the People’s Mojahedin sacrificed everything for their revolution.
In order for the individual to give himself up body and soul to the cause, the MEK intervened directly in its militants’ daily lives. This was to enforce the arbitrary decisions of the ‘Great Teacher’.
As Figaro reported:
“Founded on the cult of its spiritual leader, Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam, the Mojahedin organisation has often been compared to a sect by former members, forced to divorce and break with their family to join the ranks of fighters”.
Mitra Yusufi, a long term member of the MEK, and a victim of this policy of enforced divorce, breaks the silence:
“I traveled a long road. I underwent a real brainwashing and I have to be alert all the time. The Iranian people detest Rajavi and I hate him. My story is simple. I was a young newlywed when it all started. My husband was a popular man; since he had played for the Iranian National Football team. This was the team that qualified for the World Championship in 1978 and played in Argentina. We were living in England when the revolution happened.
We returned to Iran before going to the United States. In the Eighties, we had heard bad news about things that happened to our friends. In fact, at the time, we were very cut off from the realities of Iranian society. Rajavi wanted to use my husband’s name. We agreed and we were moved to Greece to organize the movement. When Rajavi, after his divorce from Banisadr’s daughter married his comrade’s wife, Maryam, we were shocked. My husband then took a strong position, saying that you cannot take another’s wife. Two days later, though, they convinced us of the opposite.We were such fools…”.
Nadere Afshari also lived inside the Mojahedin. She knows the reality:
“Rajavi used the family institution as an instrument at the service of his own power. To keep the men in the organisation, he forced them to marry. To do this, he used women as bait and ‘gave’ them to his most docile servants. Yet, at the slightest sign of disobedience, he took away their wives. Women were, therefore, objects passed from hand to hand.
Thus, a docile woman like Atefeh, who had the rank of Major, was forced to divorce four times, on the personal orders of Rajavi. Her comrade, Mahboubeh Jamshidi, divorced and remarried at least three times.
Rajavi considers the family as an integral cell in his organisation. He, therefore, feels free to intervene in the marital relations of members against their own will. The truth is that he dislikes the family which always posed a problem for his ‘regime’. This was for a very good reason: it is very difficult to keep ‘the light of love for the Leader’ burning bright.
From 1991 on, marriage changed its meaning. It became a barrier which kept the organisation’s members from loving their Leader”.
A third defector states:
“At this time, Rajavi also imposed on the leadership a fixed ceremony at the beginning of meetings: everyone had to place his hands on the table to make sure that no one was wearing a wedding ring, which he called ‘a slave ring’.”
Deconstructing the Family Of course, the MEK defended itself. The impact of these statements on its internal practices on international public opinion created a very negative impression. The National Resistance Council wrote, in its response to the American accusations:
“Further on, they claim that the Mojahedin had forced couples in Iraq to divorce and send their children to Europe and the United States. Here, it must be taken into account that the individuals who wrote this report were repeating, word for word, the allegations used by the Iranian regime and by the survivors of the Shah regime.
The National Liberation Army of Iran is based in the territory of a country where family-Iife in the camps became impossible during the unprecedented bombardments of the Gulf War and thereafter, because of the international embargo.
During the bombings, families, voluntarily and sometimes in writing, asked the organization for assistance in sending their children to Europe and the United States to live with their parents or our supporters. Despite many obstacles and risks, the movement spent millions of dollars to move these children to safe places. The alternative would have been accepting the possibility of numerous victims among them “.
The facts, however, are stubborn and the eyewitness reports are very precise:
‘in the terms of the ‘Second Ideological Revolution’, children had to be separated from their families and sent abroad. Rajavi made sure personally that this order was carried out case by case, finding militants or family members living in Europe or the United States who could take the children in. In the absence of family abroad, the children were sent to orphanages or special schools established by the Mojahedin in Germany and the Netherlands. More than 500 children were sent abroad this way: they were handed over to the organization during a special ceremony in which the parents recited a text affirming: ‘I give my child to Massoud and Maryam’.”
Yet the MEK justified itself by comparison with others:
“Moreover, this policy is not without precedent. During the Second World War, children were separated from their families and sent outside London during the bombings. If this way of doing things is unacceptable, the State Department should have published a declaration criticising Winston Churchill “. (219)
The People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran could have cited two other 20Ih Century precedents, ones more troubling indeed.
During 1936-37, the evacuation of the children of Spanish Republicans fighting Franco’s Nationalists is one. To protect them from the bombings which struck some cities very hard, especially Madrid, young girls and boys were sent by convoy to the Soviet Union. But once the Popular Front Government was swept aside and taken over by the Communists, these kids stayed in the USSR for an orthodox MarxistLeninist education.
The same scenario took place a few years later in Greece, during the civil war that immediately followed World War ii. There again, children kidnapped for the stated motive of putting them out of harm’s way remained in the USSR.
Kidnapping could also take place at home. The Hitler youth stole the minds and loyalties of children, turning them against their teachers and even their parents. The “Racially pure” S.S. breeding facilities were only a continuation of kidnap, but with the result of bringing thousands of parentless children into post-war Germany. Uprooted, far from their country and cut off from their culture, these children became wanderers without identity. They only had that given them by the movement or the organisation which took them in hand and led them where they wanted to for their own purposes.
For more than 20 years we know exactly how the MEK has used these kids: easier to lead, because they are more docile than adults who have developed their critical faculties. This included abandoning them to their fate when times went bad:
“In Evin, the model prison of Iran, built by the ex-Shah, one section is completely devoted to the ‘curables’, who undergo a reeducation programme. There, we find a certain number of inmates who discarded their former masters, like Banisadr’s embody guard. But the overwhelming majority are children. They are the ones the Mojahedin threw into the street fighting, without any military or political training at all. These kids (13-15 year olds) cracked, naturally. They turned against themselves”.
From the book: Autopsy of an Ideological Drift by Antoine Gessler, translated by Thomas R. Forstenszer