...In a message issued in 2006, Mojahedin leader Massoud Rajavi set his cult members a deadline of January 2009 by which time he told them if the Mojahedin had not overthrown the Islamic Republic of Iran, then all the residents of Camp Ashraf would be free to stay or leave: “Anyone who wants may leave, and I will myself throw out all those who are worthless. I will keep the rest who are pure, and then, I will tell them what they can do for me”...
Anne Singleton, April 10 2008
In a message issued in 2006, Mojahedin leader Massoud Rajavi set his cult members a deadline of January 2009 by which time he told them if the Mojahedin had not overthrown the Islamic Republic of Iran, then all the residents of Camp Ashraf would be free to stay or leave: “Anyone who wants may leave, and I will myself throw out all those who are worthless. I will keep the rest who are pure, and then, I will tell them what they can do for me”.
Although Rajavi has index-linked his group to the fortunes of the American Administration for the past five years, cult experts understand that such deadlines and threats are essentially meaningless in terms of actual action. But they are part of a powerful armoury of tactics which cult leaders use in order to threaten, frighten and coerce members into staying in a cult and not facing the outside world. Members of the Rajavi cult will certainly have been galvanized by fear provoked by this deadline. The worst fear of a Rajavi cultist is to be expelled from the cult and labelled an agent of the Iranian regime.
The main tactic which the Rajavi cult uses to inculcate artificial fear in members is to depict the world outside of the cult as peopled by ‘the enemy’. The Rajavi cult members are indoctrinated with the belief that they face an imminent, all-pervasive yet unspecified threat of annihilation from ‘agents of the Iranian regime’; a generic label which encompasses everyone who challenges the false reality which the members live by. In this way they see even close family members as enemies. It can produce such a climate of fear that cult members do not even trust one another any more.
In this atmosphere of induced fear and paranoia, the clock on Massoud Rajavi’s deadline is ticking. The focal point of events which will determine the future of his cult is Camp Ashraf. The following diary describes events at the camp.
TIPF clearance – US military police told the 209 Iranian dissidents who had taken refuge in the US run camp that they must leave. Just over 100 refused to leave claiming that US authorities must arrange safe passage for them through humanitarian agencies such as the UNHCR and ICRC to go to third countries. Those who accepted to leave were taken separately in small groups of up to five to a nearby highway. They were filmed to prove they were fit and healthy before being dismissed with American issued laissez-passer which they were told would facilitate their exit from Iraq. According to Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor who followed their fate,
“No nation has taken the militants who left Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, some of them carrying US military letters for travel to Turkey. Documents of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees show that at one point in their saga nearly two weeks ago, 19 were turned back to Iraq by Turkey, dozens were picked up in Kurdish northern Iraq and some forced to return to the dangers of central Iraq, and 26 were missing.” (February 11, 2008)
Mohammad and Mabobeh Mohammady have been in Baghdad for three months – their eighth visit – in order to try to meet with their daughter Somayeh. On December 6 they arrive at Camp Ashraf. The following day Somayeh meets with her mother for 45 minutes. She refuses to speak to her father saying she is afraid because she has been told that he is ‘an agent of the Iranian regime’. The next day, American soldiers ask the parents to leave the camp since they have met with their daughter. As they began walking to the nearest highway three MKO members confronted the Mohammadys and American soldiers were forced to intervene to prevent further injury and abduction. The Baghdad Criminal Court issued arrest warrants against three leading members of the Rajavi cult following the incident.
Mr. Massoud Khodabandeh of Iran-Interlink is invited to Iraq by Government officials to take part in various meetings addressing the problem of foreign terrorist entities in Iraq and how to deal with them.
31st Centre for International and Inter-governmental Studies in the University of Baghdad holds a Symposium on the problem of foreign terrorist entities in Iraq. Mr. Massoud Khodabandeh is consulted about the situation of the Mojahedin-e Khalq at Camp Ashraf.
During the consultation process Mr. Khodabandeh met with various ministers and experts who all expressed the same view: the MKO is a foreign terrorist group and is a danger to Iraq’s national interests. Some of them must be prosecuted for crimes committed against Iraqi people and the remainder must be expelled in totality from the country.
Mr. Ali Bashiri and his daughter from Norway meet with the girl’s mother at Camp Ashraf. She is accompanied by MKO members. She stands at a distance of three metres and swears at her daughter before leaving.
10th The Baghdad Criminal Court issue arrest warrants for three leading members of the Mojahedin. They are Abbas Davari, the political liaison of MKO in Camp Ashraf, Mozhgan Parsaii, the Commander of Rajavi's army in Iraq and Sediqeh Hoseini, the Secretary General of the MKO.
11th Mr. Reza Akbari Nasab travels to Camp Ashraf to visit his brother and nephew. His other nephew Yaser killed himself in 2006. Mr Akbari Nasab is hosted by American soldiers for some hours at Camp Ashraf before he meets his brother Morteza. His brother is accompanied by MKO members. He stands at around three metres distance and swears at his brother whom he has not seen for several years and says he is ‘an agent of the Iranian regime’. Then he leaves. Mr. Akbari Nasab's nephew Musa has German citizenship and does not meet with his uncle. Mr. Akbar Nasab's request to visit the grave of Yaser was refused.
15th The establishment of Sahar Family Foundation in Iraq, a humanitarian, non-governmental organisation is formally announced. Sahar was established in Iraq at the instigation of Massoud Khodabandeh in response to the crisis created by the expulsion of people from TIPF who had taken refuge there and who were now facing prison in Iraq or even risked being summarily shot as members of a foreign terrorist group.
23rdMr. Teymur Khattar and Mrs. Khattar make an appeal to the Iraqi legal authorities to investigate the suspicious death of their son Soheyl Kattar in Camp Ashraf in 2003. The Khattar family have been given various explanations of the death by the MKO. They now want to know: ”Was he killed in a border clash by the Iranian guards as my brother told me? Was he killed under the US and its allies' bombings as published in Mojahed weekly publication? Was he killed because of an accidental shot as we were told by the MKO officials in Camp Ashraf? Or did he commit suicide as one MKO commander mentioned? I would say none of these stories are right and they fabricate these lies to cover the truth which is my son was killed in Iraq by the MKO.”
26th Massoud Khodabandeh publishes a Special Report from Baghdad on Camp Ashraf and the Mojahedin-e Khalq. The report concludes that the American military must facilitate family visits under the terms of protected persons’ status which Camp Ashraf residents enjoy. The report also concludes that the MKO can be removed from Iraq to safety following de-proscription of the organisation in the UK and other western countries. De-proscription will allow the 3000 plus former fighters to be taken to safety and be granted refugee status in whichever countries no longer consider them as terrorists. So far no western country has been willing to de-proscribe the MKO.
6thMs. Batul Soltani speaks from Baghdad about her escape from the Rajavi cult. Up to 2006 Ms Soltani was a member of the MKO’s Leadership Council (Massoud Rajavi’s appointed group of 12 women who ‘lead’ the organisation under his lieutenant Maryam Rajavi’s direction). Soltani escaped to TIPF where she remained until December 2007 when the US military police tried to empty the camp. She made her way to Baghdad and was helped by the Sahar Family Foundation. Soltani has pledged to stay in Iraq and help SFF, even though passage to a third country had been arranged for her by SFF. She said: “I will do anything in my power to help these families”.
6thA round-table meeting is held in Europe among Iranian human rights activists to discuss ways to help the people of both Camp Ashraf and TIPF. Batul Soltani talks to the group by telephone from Baghdad.
11th Batul Soltani visits Camp Ashraf to see her husband.
19th In its programme ‘Frankly Speaking’, Al-Arabiya TV, Dubai Eli Nakuzi in Amman interviews Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih. He says the Iraqi Government “is committed to preventing the presence of elements that harm neighbouring states…” Noting that the MKO have protected persons status he said, “We do not want this organization to operate in Iraq and thus spoil relations with Iran, and equally we do not want Iran to use any cards against us internally…”
25th Mr. Keyvan Radbin, former member of the MKO who escaped to Canada shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, writes to Sahar Family Foundation about his experience of Camp Ashraf.
31stNZZ Online in Switzerland interviews Mr. Hoshiar Esmail, a former refugee in that country. He is now among the tens of MKO defectors stuck in Iraq after being asked to leave TIPF by the American Army.
The article explains: “…the leadership ranks of the Mojahedin-e Khalq handed their weapons to the Americans and offered them their services. [In 2003] The Americans interned the remaining Mojahedin-e Khalq in Camp Ashraf and put them under their protection. Two years later, about 200 ex-fighters applied to become UN Refugees (UNHCR). Walpurga Engelbrecht of the UNHCR in Baghdad said, with the recognition of political persecution the ex-fighters were given refugee status. But no country was prepared to take the refugees. In European diplomatic circles in Baghdad, it is assumed that the Americans’ Camp Ashraf [TIPF and FOB Grizzly] will soon close and that they want to get rid of the separated Mojahedin-e Khalq fighters as quickly as possible. Now Hoshiar and several dozen former Mojahedin-e Khalq have travel documents. Some 50 of them are stranded in Kurdistan. One of them, Mohammed Rostam, has twice tried to get to Turkey but each time he was re-arrested and deported to Iraq where the Kurds also briefly put him into jail. His attempt to get to Baghdad also ended in prison. The security chief of Erbil, Ismet Ergushi, confirmed the arrests and gave assurance that the Government is trying to achieve a lasting solution.”
3rdMr. Gholam-Reza Sadeghi,travelled to Camp Ashraf to obtain evidence for his court case from the American military about his mistreatment by the Mojahedin-e Khalq while in the camp. The MKO falsely and maliciously told the Iraqi police he was an Afghan suicide bomber and he was arrested outside the camp. Intervention by an American colonel secured Mr. Sadeghi’s release and a full apology from the Iraqi police who “assured me that from now on he would brief his forces not to react immediately on misinformation received form the MKO. He said that such mistakes would not happen again and we would not be trapped within their conspiracy any more. He emphasised that now they are sure the MKO has deliberately misguided them and he is happy that his forces did not harm me when they were provoked by the MKO. . . "
6thBBC Persian reports on the first public appearance by seven of the series of survivors of Camp Ashraf who have now arrived in Europe with the help of the Sahar Family Foundation. At a press conference in Paris organised by the Association for the Protection of Iranian Refugees in France the former MKO members from TIPF described their experiences. Among them, Ms. Nasrin Ebrahimi, 26 years old, who served in the group for over 10 years explained how two years ago she used a military vehicle to escape the terrorist run camp and take sanctuary with the American Army. She alleged that Marjan Akbari, daughter of Bashir Akbari, was killed by the organisation about two years ago.
17th Karim Haggi on behalf of Iran Peyvand Association appeals to western supporters of the MKO to help facilitate visits by family members to their relatives in Camp Ashraf. The appeals reads in part: "Some politicians and lawmakers have chosen to stand with the MKO and have spoken on their behalf in different occasions... We are asking that you make an appeal on behalf of people who are left without a voice in their plight... This matter goes beyond politics and is just a basic matter of human rights. We ask respectfully that you make any effort possible to convince the leaders of the MKO to do the right thing in this matter and allow the families to visit their loved ones in camp Ashraf."
23rd Nejat Association had talks with Mr. Mansour Asari who recently defected from MKO and joined his family in Iran, at Nejat NGO’s Tehran office: In 2004 Mr Asari left the MKO and went to TIPF. In January 2008, after despairing of being re-settled in a third country, he returned to Camp Ashraf. The MKO announced it would pay anyone who wanted to go to Europe. Once back in the camp the group pressured him to stay but he insisted and they paid $1800. After reaching Turkey, Mr Asari was helped by other escapees from the cult. Once safe, he called his family to visit him there. He told Nejat Association, "A few days after the Iranian’s New Year, my parents came to Istanbul to visit me. They were always crying during our visit but I had no feeling. I couldn’t recognize them at first, because they had become too old. After a while, I felt my feelings starting to revive and began to cry. Up to that time, I had decided not to return to Iran since I thought it was treason to the organization. But the logic was replacing my fanatic cult-like thoughts. I felt that I loved my family and country. When I was assured that I would have no trouble in Iran, I decided to return with my family. They were ready to help me go to Europe but I wanted to go nowhere except Iran. I arrived in Iran this March without any problem. I plan to work here, building my new life."
26th UNHCR reported that four people died after being forcibly returned to Iraq. "The incident took place on Wednesday 23 April at an unpatrolled stretch of the border, near the Habur (Silopi) official border crossing in Sirnak province in southeastern Turkey. According to eyewitnesses, the Turkish authorities had earlier attempted to forcibly deport 60 people of various nationalities to Iraq through the official border crossing. The Iraqi border authorities allowed 42 Iraqis to enter the country, but refused to admit 18 Iranian and Syrian nationals. The Turkish police then took the 18, which included five Iranian refugees recognised by UNHCR, to a place where a river separates the two countries, and forced them to swim across. According to the witnesses interviewed by UNHCR, four persons, including a refugee from Iran, were swept away by the strong river current and drowned. Their bodies could not be recovered." The five Iranian refugees, including the man who died, were from TIPF.
1st Asked about the situation of Mojahedin-e Khalq in Iraq, the Iraqi ambassador in Tehran, Muhammad Majid Al-sheik, told Fars News Agency "The Iraqi government has always insisted on their expulsion from the country based on the constitution; but the remaining problem is that they're not welcomed by any other countries due to their evil bloody history. "We will soon make them leave Iraq if another country accepts to let them in" He added." We also express our readiness to help repatriate to Iran those members who have the intention of getting back to their homeland in accordance with ICRC."
1st The Nowruzi family plead for justice to the Iraqi judicial authorities against the MKO about the mysterious murder of their brother the late Sa'id Nowruzi in Camp Ashraf in 2003. The Nowruzi sisters (Elham, Susan, Simin, and Soheyla) urge the Iraqi authorities to investigate the suspicious death of their brother in Camp Ahsraf in Iraq. Since 1990 Sa'id had been opposed to the forced divorces in the MKO and was under severe pressure because of this.
2nd American forces close TIPF. The 78 remaining MKO dissidents are taken to Dahouk in Kurdistan where they are housed and provided with two months food rations. After this they have been told, they will be given over to the UNHCR. The Bulgarian unit which was helping protect the Iranian nationals has mostly been re-deployed. It is still unclear how long MNF soldiers will continue to protect Camp Ashraf.
7th A ruling by the UK's Court of Appeal that the Government cannot appeal against a previous ruling by the Proscribed Organisations' Appeals Committee (POAC) that the MKO should be removed from the UK's terrorist list, should open the way for the 3,300+ uniformed militants in Camp Ashraf to be given refugee status in the UK where they can continue what Maryam Rajavi describes as their peaceful opposition to the Iranian regime.
9th The 155 strong Bulgarian unit has been withdrawn from guarding Camp Ashraf and deployed to other tasks. According to the Bulgarian News Agency, “a few of them, along with some American soldiers, are protecting only the remaining US property at the Center.” Now that TIPF has been removed, Camp Ashraf itself has come under scrutiny and the fate of the 3300+ uniformed militants is still unclear. The MKO leader Massoud Rajavi is waiting to have his uniformed combatants re-armed and re-deployed against Iran by the American Administration. It may be that he will not have long to wait. However, the moment the MKO is re-armed in Iraq it will be a legitimate target for anyone and everyone who bears a grudge against the group – and the MKO has many, many enemies in Iraq. In these circumstances, as soon as the MKO is de-proscribed in the UK, the uniformed militants in Camp Ashraf must be given asylum there, so that they can continue what Maryam Rajavi describes as their peaceful opposition to the Iranian regime. Any other course of action will leave them vulnerable to a potential massacre. The MKO’s supporters in the British parliament who led the campaign to have the group de-proscribed now have the task of rescuing the group’s members in Iraq before they are killed.
20th Sahar Family Foundation representative Ms Batul Soltani (former MKO Leadership Council), and Massoud Khodabandeh of Iran Interlink conclude a visit to Turkey where they met with officials and former MKO members who managed to escape the cult and reach Turkey. Concerning the problem of the MKO in Camp Ashraf and the difficulties facing the survivors of this destructive cult, Ms Soltani said "considering the wide range of use of this organisation by western countries during the two decades of Saddam’s war against Iranians, it is expected that help to them would come not from Iran or Iraq but legally and morally should come from Britain, USA and Israel..."
24th According to a report by Aria Association, Mr. Hassan Nemati, a former member with 25-years of service in the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), has drowned in the river in the border between Turkey and Greece. On 20 May 2008 Hassan Nemati (Saffar), drowned near the shores of Samos as he and a friend tried to enter Greece clandestinely by swimming the river. Hassan Nemati and a group of repentant Mojahedin members were expelled by the Turkish authorities. Nemati and one of his friends decided to leave the Kusadasi and swim to Samos. During the night passage over the Aegean Sea storm waves rose up and Hassan Neamti was drowned. He is the second person who has drowned in Turkish border waters in the past few weeks. On 23 April 2008, Hassan Mirzai, another repentant MKO member, drowned after being forcefully expelled by the Turkish authorities. Mirzai was one of a group of asylum seekers who were made to leave the country by swimming across the river border between Turkey and Iraq. Three others also drowned in the same incident.
2nd Asked about the presence of MKO in his country, Iraq's ambassador in Iran, Abu Heidar al-Sheikh, said "the Iraqi government would under no circumstances let any individuals or organizations take action against its neighboring countries and the Iraqi government is to expel them. No country in the world would host MKO, he underlined."
12th Sahar Family Foundation publish a short interim report on a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan. Delegates visited Suleymanyeh, Erbil and Dahuk to report on conditions for survivors of the Rajavi cult who had previously taken refuge with American soldiers in TIPF. Sahar met with officials of the Kurdish Regional Government and American military personnel to discuss the problems faced by these individuals. The statistics and situation currently pertaining to the survivors in Kurdistan are: At this moment in time there are 12 people in Arbil, 2 in Sulymanyeh and out of the 85 people who were transferred from TIPF to Dahuk, 65 are still present (others have left to reach neighboring and European countries). The American army personnel who have been accommodating the people in Dahuk have now begun transferring them to Arbil. These will be accommodated with the other 12 people who live in 2 houses, and a new house which has been hired by UNHCR. The 12 who were there and the new arrivals are all under the protection of UNHCR and are given shelter (in houses) and food rations. They are free in respect of movement and are accepted by the Kurdish Regional Government (special thanks to PM Shirvan Barezani).
15th PressTV reported that the Iraqi Government is planning to expel the MKO from Iraq. "Iraqi defense minister has said that the Iraq government is planning the expulsion of members of the banned Iranian terrorist group MKO. Abdul-Kader Jassem al-Obeidi noted that the terrorists of the Mujahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO) should no longer remain in Iraq. "According to a newly enacted Iraqi law, nationals of all foreign countries currently residing in Iraq should return to their own countries. Anyone wishing to not return to their country should apply through international organizations," he added. Referring to the problems of the prolonged presence of MKO elements in Iraq, al-Obeidi pointed out that their presence imposes heavy costs on Iraq. General al-Obeidi further noted that the details of the MKO expulsion from Iraq will be made public later."
18th PressTV reported that Iraq has urged the US to stop backing the Mojahedin-e Khalq. Iraq bans any deal with the members of the Mujahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO), calling on the US to stop supporting the terrorist group. "The Cabinet decided to ban any dealings with this organization by any Iraqi or foreign individual, organization or party,'' a statement said on Tuesday. In the statement, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the Mujahedeen Khalq Organization is meddling in the country's internal affairs and supporting anti-government activities. The statement warned that those who violate the order will face charges under the anti-terror law. Earlier today, Iraq's main political blocs in the parliament demanded the expulsion of the MKO members from the country."
22nd PressTV reported that Iraq's cabinet says it is adopting the appropriate measures to expel the terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) from Iraqi soil. According to the cabinet's ruling, MKO terrorists will remain on Iraqi soil, however, they will be required to comply with Iraqi regulations until they leave the country. Based on the ruling any transaction with the terrorist group or any connection with its members, who assisted former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the massacre of thousands of Iraqi civilians, is strictly forbidden. In the Iraqi cabinet statement Multi National Forces have been urged to allow Iraqi authorities to deal with MKO terrorists and to hand over checkpoints and all other related issues. According to a source close to the ruling coalition in Baghdad, the Iraqi government is currently negotiating with US forces to take control of MKO bases in the country.
24th Iran-Interlink commented on a Court of Appeal ruling for the de-proscription of the MKO as a terrorist entity in the U.K.. Massoud Khodabandeh of Iran-Interlink who recently visited Baghdad, Turkey and Erbil, commented: “In this respect de-proscription of the MKO in the U.K. will enable Britain to fulfil its obligations to the members of this group who have been engaged in engineering the violent overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in close alliance with western interests, for nearly three decades. We cannot expect Iran or Iraq to offer succour to people who have committed acts of violence against the people of those countries. It is clearly the responsibility of the MKO’s western backers to now rescue them.”
Asghar Farzin, Reza Sadeghi, and Ali Biglary, former members of the MKO, plead for justice against the organisation to the Iraqi judicial authorities and urge them to deal with the situation in Ashraf camp http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=4272