Children exploited by the Mojahedin

Using the 1991 Gulf War as a pretext, Rajavi saw his opportunity to expand his control over the members of the Mojahedin. Around 800 children were to be evacuated from the Mojahedin bases in Iraq and sent abroad for safety. In reality until this time it had been possible for parents to meet each other and their children in a family environment, thus acting as a brake on his universal imposition of the Ideological Revolution.

When the evacuation plan was proposed, few of the parents were in favour. The Mojahedin camps were not targets for allied military action and the combatants knew that they and their children were safe. In response, Rajavi ordered all the children to be taken to Baghdad at a time when over 2500 allied flights were raining bombs over Baghdad. The parents were frightened into accepting the plan.

The children, aged from 2 months to 15 years of age, were taken out of Iraq via Jordan. From there they were divided up and variously sent to Europe, America, Australia and Canada. In Germany alone over 200 children were smuggled in illegally with false documents. Once in Germany they were kept in one of three bases. Where possible, Iranian foster parents were found. These foster parents were Mojahedin supporters or sympathisers and the children were used as a bargaining chip to keep them loyal. While ever the family had a Mojahedin child fostered to its care, the organisation could keep contact and exert emotional pressure on the family to extract further support.

However, no care was taken to check on the welfare of the children and some were subjected to emotional and even physical abuse. Some children were moved several times from family to family before being settled or returned to the Mojahedin base.

The children in the bases were viewed by those organisational members responsible for them as a burden to be tolerated and if possible to be removed from the responsibility of the Mojahedin. They were regarded as a drain on resources both of manpower and financially. Eventually they were seen as potential forces to be sent back to Iraq.

The children were barracked up to 10 in a room and subjected to the organisational discipline of the base (they had previously been treated as children and given a family environment and schooling in Iraq). Most significantly they were given no emotional or psychological support and this put them under immense pressure.

The children were used as hostages in relation to their parents so that if a parent showed any tendency to want to leave the organisation they were told that they would never see their children again. In any case, the children were being given ideological and organisational training with a view to returning them to Iraq as new forces for the armed revolution which Rajavi continues to promise his followers.

Whilst in the Mojahedin bases in Germany, children were forced to undertake work in the base and take part in fundraising activities, collecting money in the street. At the same time, the Mojahedin were abusing every possible avenue of Social Security in Germany in order to claim benefits for these children. After a two year investigation, the German High Court on 21 December 2001 closed the Mojahedin 'shop' - 25 'houses' and bases - after evidence was found of misuse of Social Security and fraud.

Documents in Germany showed that 10 - 12 million Marks had been used by the Mojahedin to buy weapons. Considering that a Social Security claim of 130 - 260 Marks could be made per child per day, this is a conservative figure of the amount that the Mojahedin collected on account of these children.

Now that the fundraising activities of the Mojahedin have been curtailed both through such revelations and the closure of their charities and foundations, the Mojahedin have found a different way to exploit these children. After nearly twenty years of futile struggle against the Iranian regime, the average age of the Mojahedin membership is between 45 to 50 years of age. New membership has been rare in recent years. Yet Rajavi has needed to show his existing members that the Mojahedin is still an active force in the Iranian political scene. This has been achieved by returning the children to Iraq. These fresh young faces are paraded inside the closed environment of Iraq as an example of the attraction of the Mojahedin to modern Iranian youth. Now, any of the evacuated children who reaches 16 years old is sent to Iraq to undergo ideological and organisational training and to do so-called military service so that they can join the revolutionary struggle.

Of the children in Germany, around 37 who are still very young remain and the rest, with the exception of those who are mentally ill or have run away or whose parents or family could otherwise save them, have been illegally returned to Iraq. There the Mojahedin have created a new military regiment for the children, the Hanif Regiment, which is headed by Rajavi's son, Mostafa.

All the children who have been evacuated from Iraq and brought up in these conditions for ten years are vulnerable needy people. They need help, yet, Rajavi is keeping them, as he keeps others in the organisation in Iraq, to sacrifice for any small reason he likes.