Survivors' Report - July 2005
Table of Contents:
Faded hopes for Iranian exiles
Engulfed by various crises, and reeling
from a Human Rights Watch report that branded it a serious abuser of human
rights, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) still insists on touting itself as a
credible alternative to the ruling political system in Iran. Its relentless
propaganda notwithstanding, there is now every sign that the MEK will
disintegrate some time in the next five years.
The long overdue exposure of human rights abuses inside the Mojahedin has so incensed the organization that it has concentrated a massive amount of energy into somehow making these ugly revelations disappear.
Immediately, the usual tactics ground into action – persuade a 'respectable' person to denounce the report as the work of the Iranian regime.
One of the most diligent of the Mojahedin's supporters in this activity has been the respected defender of human rights, Lord Avebury from the UK House of Lords. With his long association with the Mojahedin Lord Avebury is, of course, known to several of those who have left the organization who, as members, remember visiting him at his home and delivering gifts from Massoud and Maryam Rajavi.
By directing attacks at a handful of victims and demonizing them and those who publicize their stories, the Mojahedin hope this will make them and the whole issue go away.
The MKO's own Iran Focus website recently carried some scurrilous accusations concerning former MKO member Ebrahim Khodabandeh who is now in Evin prison. Fortunately Ebrahim is alive and well and has been able, from his prison cell, to unequivocally answer the accusations in an open letter to Lord Avebury. Those interested in reading this little spat can find both the article and the reply at:
With the election of a new president in Iran new questions arise as to the future of the MKO. A significant indicator of the tenor of his new regime will be how, as president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad constructs the new Iranian opposition movement. That is, how his regime evaluates and deals with the threat posed by the myriad groups and personages which oppose it and him; whether from inside the regime itself – perhaps Rafsanjani, certainly the moderates – or inside the country - journalists, Nehzat Azadi, students etc - or externally, Pahlavi, MKO, Jomhoorikhahan (to name only a few).
In a sense, Ahmadinejad has the opportunity to set a new political agenda for Iran by 'creating' a new opposition construct which will take the country forwards not backwards. And while we can't expect a sudden turnabout in terms of human rights violations and suppression of political freedoms, there is a real possibility that the election of a new president can sweep away some of the past and allow something like an effective opposition movement to begin to flourish.
If, that is, we are to believe Ahmadinejad's own publicity which says he will not fall into the trap of reacting to a US neoconservative agenda (that is, the demand for regime change). If what he says is true then we should see that Iran does not return to the extremes of the past and Ahmadinejad does not recreate the spectre of violent forces sitting over the border ready to attack and take the country by storm. This of course, is the scenario most loved by the MKO, Israeli rightwingers and the US neoconservatives. They would love to push Ahmadinejad's government into a crisis with threats and rumours of imminent bombing raids. All it would take is a little propaganda. Already we have seen the seeds sown with the MKO's duplicitous demonisation of Ahmadinejad.
What would benefit Iran, and also ultimately US-Iranian relations, better would be to demonstrably demote in terms of threat some of the outdated and anachronistic opposition forces, and choose as 'enemies' instead opposition forces which actually have a chance of pushing forward elements of his own agenda - economy, living standards, etc by challenging his platform.
If this sounds too sophisticated or radical or just plain crazy, look at what Khatami's administration started with the MKO in Iraq when the US captured them in Camp Ashraf (May 2003). Against all expectation Iran issued an amnesty to (terrorist) MKO members who were not implicated directly in crimes against individuals and who wanted to return home. Since then, over 300 have been repatriated and by all accounts have not come to any harm, but have been returned to their families and left alone.
It remains to be seen if Ahmadinejad's government can see the wisdom in this, or whether the regressive cries for blood and revenge drown out the voices for progress and stability. If we see the returned MKO rounded up in the next few months and flung into jail, then we can expect to see an atmosphere in which the US can step up its threats. If, however, a great many of Ahmadinejad's critics continue to come from inside the regime itself and the most severely suppressed critics continue to be journalists and the civic society, then we will see which way the wind is blowing - and that is not the way the warmongers want.
News in Brief
MKO and the Ahvaz bombings
Four bombs exploded in Ahvaz in Khuzestan province followed by a bomb blast in Tehran. Observers say the blasts were apparently aimed at disrupting Iran's presidential elections. The terrorist group Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) immediately denied responsibility for the attacks. Although most of the MEK's combatants are being held in US custody at Camp Ashraf, the group's former headquarters in Iraq, it is rumoured that some have been recruited by the US Department of Defence to take part in covert operations in Iran, and for intelligence gathering on Iran's nuclear programme.
Massoud Khodabandeh commented, "I don't see this as the MEK having the political sophistication to distance themselves from any 'terrorist' activity because they want to be removed from the western terror lists. After all they never denounced 9/11 or Saddam Hussein or... and have still not actually said they have renounced violence to achieve power.
"This is more likely to be a stupid reaction from Massoud Rajavi (MEK leader-in-hiding), to mean 'we could have done it if we'd wanted to'. He is desperate to keep himself in the equation as far as Iran is concerned, but simply has no resources except propaganda to keep the Mojahedin name alive even on paper."
U.S. court backs indictment on
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court upheld a federal indictment on Friday against a group that raised money in California for the Mujahedin-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
The ruling reverses a district court's dismissal of the indictment.
A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled the Committee for Human Rights, which had solicited financial contributions at Los Angeles International Airport, wired money to the Mujahedin-e Khalq despite learning of the designation.
A district court held the law covering how groups are designated terrorist organizations is unconstitutional because only one federal court may review the designations.
The appellate panel rejected that position along with the Los Angeles fund-raisers' argument their financial support for the Mujahedin-e Khalq was entitled to free-speech protections under the First Amendment.
"What is at issue here is not anything close to pure speech. It is, rather, material support to foreign organizations that the United States has deemed, through a lawful process, a threat to our national security," according to the panel's decision.
"The fact that the support takes the form of money does not make the support the equivalent of speech. In this context, the donation of money could properly be viewed by the government as more like the donation of bombs and ammunition than speech," the panel added.
A lawyer for one of the fund-raisers described the ruling as "very disappointing."
Under the federal indictment, Berzon's client faces up to 10 years in prison. He has not yet discussed a potential appeal with his client, Roya Rahmani.
International Arrest Warrant
for MKO Members
Swiss-based newspaper Le Temp revealed in a report that six MKO members who commuted in UN Commissions have been banned according to an international arrest warrant which was issued by Interpol.
Le Temp wrote: "… six opponents of the regime in Tehran, who lobbied UN Commissions. A year ago, they were banned from entering UN buildings due to complaints by Iranian officials. In March 2003, Libyan head of Human Rights Commission at that time, replied to Iranian officials' letter that for preventing people from entering these buildings there should be convincing reasons, such as an international arrest warrant. In the next year, 2004, the warrant had been issued by Interpol. So, the doors of the UN were automatically closed on these dangerous terrorists."
Iraqi Police Bans MKO Meeting
Since the Mojahedin-e khalq is a terrorist organization, the Iraqi police didn't allow it to hold its meeting in Babel Hotel in Baghdad.
According to the Foreign Ministry's press office, after police interference, MKO officials asked US forces to support them but received no answer from them. After this failure, they invited some tribesmen in Diali Province to take part in their meeting in Camp Ashraf. But when tribesmen rejected the invitation, MKO leaders experienced another blow and the meeting was cancelled.
Alberto Fernandez, spokesman for US embassy in Iraq had recently said to Al-Menar Al-Yaum newspaper that Mojahedin-e khalq terrorist organization has killed US soldiers and diplomats and has no place in Iraq's future.
"This organization was Saddam's mercenary and killed Americans, Shiites and Kurds. Paul Bremer denied the Iraqi Governing Council's decision to expel this group since there was no place to transfer them to."
According to Fernandez, this group will certainly leave Iraq. "We are looking for a place for them, but their exit from Iraq needs time," he said.
Attack on Tahmasbi
I was traveling to Paris for the Anti-terrorism Conference. As I passed through Belgium I encountered several MKO members and supporters who immediately recognized me. I was attacked by this group which was coordinated by a woman called Mahin Afshar, also known as Leila, from the central leadership council of the Mojahedin. She is one of those arrested on June 17, 2003 and is on bail awaiting trial on terrorism charges. Unfortunately she and others have had travel restrictions lifted by French courts and this is how she came to be in Belgium continuing her activities for the Mojahedin.
They attacked me, I believe, because I am one of four named former members who are prosecuting their leader Maryam Rajavi for human rights abuses in France. Le Parisien wrote about this and it made them really angry. They are seeking revenge.
But, it isn't the first time they have attacked former members in European countries. Before me, Javaheriyar and Shams Haeri were attacked. As the legal noose tightens around the Mojahedin's neck we expect more, and more vicious attacks on people who speak out against them. My question is, how is it possible that a designated terrorist organization, several of whose members are currently awaiting trial on terror related charges, is allowed to continue operating and engaging in physical attacks in Europe?
Mohammad Mohaddessin wants to
visit the UK
Critics of the terrorist MKO objected to the proposed visit of Mohammad Mohaddessin to the UK in July. Mohaddessin, a leading MKO member, is currently freed on bail in France pending terrorist related charges.
On 6th June, Massoud Khodabandeh wrote an open letter to Prime minister Tony Blair about Mr Mohaddessin's proposed visit to the UK. The letter pointed out that:
Over the past few months, several leaders of the proscribed terrorist group, Mojahedin-e Khalq, who are currently on bail awaiting trial on various terrorism related charges in France, have been trying to reduce the conditions of their bail so they can continue their activities in Europe.
In the case of Mr. Mohammed Reza Mohades (aka; Seyed al Mohaddesin, Behnam, Mohammad Mohaddesin, Mohadessin, Mohaddessin), the court rejected claims that he needs to visit other countries for at least 3 days, once a month. The court rejected his claim to visit Belgium at the end of May 2005 as he did not have credible evidence for the necessity of this visit (such as an official invitation). MKO lawyers dropped another claim by Mr. Mohaddesin that he needed to visit Germany, but insisted on his need to visit the UK at the beginning of July 2005.
Mr Mohaddessin obtained an invitation from Lord Corbett a well-known apologist for this terrorist organisation.
The French judge who reviewed
his bail conditions has respected the position given to Lord Corbett by the
Queen, and out of respect for the British Government has ruled that:
Fourteen more MKO returned to
Iran from Camp Ashraf
Fourteen more disaffected MKO
members have seen no future for the organization and returned to Iran with
the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Iraqi
government. One report from inside Iran quoted the returnees as saying the
MKO leaders had forced them to stay until June 2005, but when this time
arrived and nothing happened, they realized that MKO leader Massoud Rajavi
had lied to them. They left the organization immediately and returned to
Iran under the auspices of the ICRC and Iraqi government. The fourteen
returnees have been named as:
Under president Khatami, Iran had issued an amnesty to MKO members who were not implicated in crimes against individuals. Since then, over 300 dissatisfied former members have returned to their families in Iran. Around 3,300 remain under US control in Camp Ashraf. Their future is still uncertain.
'Tank girl' army accused of torture
Evidence obtained by the Guardian backs a report by Human Rights Watch. This makes detailed accusations of abuse, including deaths under interrogation, against the "People's Mujahideen" of Iran (MKO).
The Mujahideen are a 4000-strong anti-Iranian dissident army, currently under US protection in a camp in Iraq. They have a vociferous public relations campaign in Britain and the backing of some Washington neo-conservatives.
The group, known as the "tank girls" because of the preponderance of women in its ranks, has also won the support of the Daily Telegraph, which wants it to help overthrow the mullahs in Tehran. It says in a leader: "We should back the main resistance group, the People's Mujahideen ... Give them the tools and they will finish the job".
There is a growing right-wing campaign in parts of Washington and London for regime change, citing Iran's nuclear ambitions. But leftwing UK figures have also joined the campaign to legitimise the Mujahideen, whom they see as freedom fighters.
An advertisement by supporters in the Guardian last month quoted Labour peer Lord (Robin) Corbett, as well as Liberal Lord (David) Alton and Tory backbencher David Amess in support, along with human rights lawyers Imran Khan and Geoffrey Bindman.
However, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, calls them a "a nasty terrorist organisation" and British officials are barred from contact. The Mujahideen are officially proscribed but their British backers want the terrorist designation lifted.
Refugees from the Mujahideen we traced in the Netherlands include Ardeshir Pahrizkari, who walks on crutches. His back and feet were broken, he told us, when he was punched, kicked and had chairs thrown at him at a mass meeting to denounce him organised by his commander.
His crime, he says, was to object to "self-criticism" sessions and the beating up of internal dissidents. "They use Stalinist methods to get rid of even a spark of opposition".
At the time, the "tank girls" were being financed by Saddam Hussein in camps in Iraq. The army was allocated illicit cash from the UN oil-for-food programme, according to Iraqi ministry documents.
Mr Pahrizkari says he was handed over to Saddam's secret service, who took him to Abu Ghraib prison. There were continual beatings there, he said. "When the Red Cross came round, we were told: 'Any contact with them and we will break every bone in your hands and feet.'"
His fellow refugee, Akbar Akbari, says he was tortured extensively, and is still having psychological counselling, after three years in Abu Ghraib.
"The moment you arrived, you were beaten on the soles of the feet. Prisoners were used to hoist your feet in the air with ropes."
Later, he says, his toenails were pulled out. Pepper and salt were forced into his anus.
He says he was falsely accused by the Mujahideen army of being an Iranian spy. Eventually both men were handed over to their enemies in Iran.
They claim they escaped, and deny they are working for the Iranian regime. "My father, brother and sister were imprisoned for six months after I escaped," says Mr Akbari. "The regime took their house."
Mr Pahrizkari says: "I want to warn people not to fall into this trap. If the Mujahideen are the next potential regime in Iran, then that regime will be a dictatorship".
The two men's testimony is supported by last week's New York-based Human Rights Watch report. It says telephone interviews with 12 other former Mujahideen soldiers "paint a grim picture of how the organisation treated its members". Witnesses alleged two cases of deaths under interrogation.
A former English soldier in the MKO, Anne Singleton, now living in Leeds, talked to the Guardian last week. She said the MKO was a brainwashing cult, which ordered its members alternately to divorce and re-marry. As a "Tank girl", she says she wielded a Kalashnikov in the Iraqi deserts with a battalion of women equipped with tanks and revolutionary slogans. They are run by Maryam and Massoud Rajavi, who are married.
She believed she was joining a feminist marxist battle group dedicated to the overthrow of Iran's misogynist clerics. But she says she was deceived and is horrified UK politicians are backing dangerous fanatics.
Young supporters burned themselves to death in 2003, one in London, in coordinated protests after the arrest of some leaders, and the Mujahideen army is accused of numerous bombings inside Iran.
The group raised up to £5m a year in Britain through a charity called Iran Aid, until the Charity Commission closed it down in 2001, saying it was unclear where the money was going.
Lord Corbett's response to the Human Rights Watch report is: "All the people they interviewed are agents of Iranian intelligence. A bill is going through the US Senate allowing financial aid to opposition groups in Iran. People are desperate to stop the Mujahideen getting any of the money".
He attacks the methodology of the report and accused Ms Singleton of also "having links with the Iranian ministry of intelligence".
Ms Singleton denies this, saying: "To claim that every western government and humanitarian organisation which criticises the Rajavi cult is somehow connected to the Iranian secret services shows Lord Corbett's own refusal to take responsibility for supporting this terrorist cult."
Paris Conference –
Former members of Mojahedin-e
Khalq organization take action against the leaders of this organization in
Voice of America
On the anniversary of Maryam
Rajavi's arrest and the self-immolations in Paris, Mojahedin-e Khalq held a
ceremony in Paris on Saturday.
Points of View
The fundamental feature of human rights abuse inside the Mojahedin is brainwashing. Unfortunately this was not mentioned in any detail in the Human Rights Watch report.
A dictionary definition of brainwashing is: 'to impose a set of usually political or religious beliefs on somebody by the use of various coercive methods of indoctrination, including destruction of the victim’s prior beliefs.'
In the Mojahedin brainwashing is systematically employed using well-known physical and psychological methods to destroy the personal morality and psychology of each individual so that this can be rebuilt according to the needs of the brainwasher, in this case, Massoud Rajavi.
In armed organizations like the Mojahedin-e Khalq and Al Qaida, this brainwashing has a worse outcome than simply individual acts of physical terrorism because it covers more than one person. The subjects of brainwashing are themselves 'terrorized' day-by-day and in the end each one becomes a terrorist. In this respect the perpetrators and the victims of brainwashing should be studied much more carefully than those individuals who have killed someone.
A Sacred Bomb
Whenever we hear about a bomb explosion in Iran everyone remembers Saddam Hussein and Massoud Rajavi.
For over two decades the most modern and up-to-date tactics were used by these two dictators to kill Iranians. It is logical to assume then that if a bomb explodes in Iran it is a result of Rajavi's strategy of armed struggle. Rajavi has always said that the strategy of armed struggle represents the honour of the Mojahedin and the tools for this strategy have always been sacred.
When a bomb is believed to open the way for democracy – as the Mojahedin claims – then the individual who performs the bombing feels marvelous and believes the whole country should bow down to them and pay homage to their courage.
In this atmosphere of 'the end justifies the means' Rajavi gives his individual cult members sacred medals so that they won't question themselves or him.
Now the heads of the three big terror cults, Al Qaida, Ba'athists and the Mojahedin are on the run in the region, the followers of their ideologies have turned to revenge and recognize no limits to their activities and killings.
To stop this madness, the key point is not to deal with these people like businessmen and, according to short term interests, divide them into good and bad. Instead, try to expose them and do not lend them any legitimacy.
Otherwise, the same terrorist you might categorize as good in the short term, tomorrow will place their sacred bomb in front of your house.
What really happened in Operation Eternal Light
May 25, 2005
The Human Rights Watch report about human rights abuses by the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization has quoted in several places from Massoud Banisadr's book 'Masoud, Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel'. Concerning the MEK's disastrous military operation in 1988 Banisadr wrote:
About Operation Eternal Light, Rajavi said: We will not be
fighting alone; we will have the people on our side. They are tired of this
regime, and especially since the ceasefire, they have every incentive to get
rid of it forever. We will only have to act as their shields, protecting
them from being easy targets for the [revolutionary] guards. Wherever we go
there will be masses of citizens joining us, and the prisoners we liberate
from jails will help us lead them towards victory. It will be like an
avalanche, growing as it progresses. Eventually the avalanche will tear
Khomeini’s web apart. You don’t need to take anything with you. We will be
like fish swimming in a sea of people. They will give you whatever you need.
In the above excerpt, Banisadr refers to the casualties of Eternal Light Operation and the Mojahedin's failure in this operation. According to his own words, he was sent to fight against a classic army with the experience of a bloody 8 year war, even though he had not received any military training. Though wounded, he survived. And now Banisadr, quoted by Human Rights Watch, talks of the outcome of that operation.
But what does not come out in the report, are the issues
involved in actual pursuance of the operation, such as what led to that
operation, and what happened in the Mojahedin and Iraqi joint operation
room, and the words exchanged between four Iraqi generals and Massoud and
Twenty-four hours after it was absolutely clear that the
Mojahedin offensive would fail and when it was clear that the Iranian Army
had withdrawn its forces in order to cut off any path for retreat, at that
time, four Iraqi generals, with tears in their eyes, begged Rajavi to order
a withdrawal in order to save the lives of MKO members. Rajavi did not
accept. He believed that either everyone should die or Saddam must agree to
give more air support. He wanted to secure air support with the price of the
members' lives. But the Generals in the joint operation room said that even
if Saddam wanted to help he could not because of international, political
and situational issues. Massoud Rajavi was even taken by helicopter to visit
Saddam himself. But he came back empty-handed. All those involved in the
operation, particularly the commanders, remember very well that those who
were saved were those who returned against their orders or who had narrow
escapes from the blood and fire of the massacre. (Of course, except Mehdi
Abrishamchi and other menials of Auvers sur Oise, who were instructed
privately to return to the camps before others).
Request for international court to
The Human Rights Watch (HRW)
report on violations of human rights by the Mojahedin-e Khalq organization
was published on May 18, 2005. The 28 page report was based on the evidence
and testimonies of former members of the MKO and others and was widely
covered by Farsi and international media.
The names of signatories:
Mrs Farah Karimi, MP, the Netherlands
Farah Karimi has been a member of the Lower House of the National Dutch Parliament since May 19, 1998. She has lived in the Netherlands since 1998 and studied International Relations at the University of Groningen. In 1998, she was eligible to vote for the first time in the elections for the Lower House and was at the same time elected to office. At present, she is the Green Party spokesperson for Development Aid, European Affairs, and Foreign Affairs (Africa, Surinam and Latin America) in the Dutch Parliament.
In May this year Mrs Karimi published a book about her life called 'The Secret of Fire'. In it she talks about her involvement with the Mojahedin-e Khalq as a young woman. She became politically active during the 1979 revolution, believing at that time in a socialist interpretation of Islam. Soon after she joined the Mojahedin with her husband, Farrokh. After her escape to Europe in 1983 she continued working with the Mojahedin. Then in 1996, she cut all her relations with the organization.
Ms Femke Halsma, leader of the Greens, says: “I believe that Farah Karimi writes about Mojahedin-e Khalq very honestly. She now rejects the Mojahedin-e Khalq and believes it has become a criminal organization.”
Mr. Hans Von Balen, Liberal
Democrat member says that in his view Mrs Karimi has written very bravely
about her past relations with the Mojahedin. "Criticizing the past is a
brave act", he said, "and other politicians should follow her example".
Excerpted from The Secret of Fire by Farah Karimi, MP
…And this is how the cult culture started…
To prevent people from being drawn into a normal western way of life the methods were becoming increasingly radical. We were asked not to show weaknesses and to not surrender to western ways of life…
Once again I was lucky. A child was sick and I had to take him to hospital and therefore I had the excuse not to attend yet another brainwashing session …
… our house in Hamburg had become an official base for Mojahedin Khalq Organisation (MKO)… We were increasingly accepting people who had run away and who were on their way to Paris [the MKO's new headquarters after the failed coup d'etat in Iran].
Farah is transferred to the Mojahedin base in Paris:
I was mainly helping newcomers who had come from Iraq to Germany and I would prepare their cases for applying for asylum. We would give them our Identity cards and other documents in order to facilitate their continued travel. The only ID which did not need any change of photo, etc was the one belonging to Hooman [Farah's son] which could easily be used for other children.
We would use night trains and at the border checkpoints the custom officers would not wake up sleeping passengers for random checks, especially if they had children with them…
A few times I was summoned to participate in ceremonies in Paris. In reality their base in Paris was a country inside France itself. In huge buildings all close to each other, hundreds of Mojahedin were living and working without attracting the attention of the outside world. They were ordered to respect the way of life of the French people. So, they would trim the grass in front of the building very neatly and would open and close the wooden window blinds exactly as and when the French citizens would do so. They would also respect the weekend rules and would not make too much noise, sometimes pretending that they are out for a short break like the others…
… I think that during that time
the Mojahedin were checking my abilities and qualities. A short time after
my return to Hamburg, I received a message to go to Paris taking Hooman with
me. I was instructed to put more time into my work and to become more
involved as a full time member. I gave my house to the regional branch of
Mojahedin but at least on paper the house still was mine. I was asked to go
to Paris to take on more responsibilities.
I left everything in Hamburg and together with Hooman, on a warm summer day in 1985, took a train to Paris. I had not had much contact with Farrokh [Farah's husband] since the time he relocated to Paris.
This was the first time I was contacting the MKO directly, without the mediation of my husband. I believed that this time the invitation was solely due to my own abilities. After my arrival in Paris, I was transferred to a house which was allocated to the work related to newcomers and refugees. It was named Qanooni [Legal]. This was where I was going to start my work.
Farrokh, myself and Hooman had a small bedroom with two small bags containing all our clothes and some toys for Hooman, and that was all our belongings. There was no television, no radio and no news. The life was truly boring. In the building in which the Legal and Hospitality section of MKO had been based, I was working in a group responsible for bringing refugees into Europe and also for the relocation of these people inside Europe. The rules in this place were also very harsh. The restriction on transfer of information was very serious. I never found out which countries were part of our network.
The first contact with the organisation had a very deep effect on me. I was part of them and could see how every individual was part of a collective each with their own responsibilities. Even the day to day household responsibilities were coordinated and distributed on a planned program. The person responsible for your house would herself clean the toilets twice a week. Myself and two other mothers in the same house would take care of the children on a rotating basis. But after a few weeks I had to go back to Hamburg to sort out some of the newcomers. I had to leave Hooman for the first time. Others were supposed to take care of him and take him to a new nursery opened recently especially for the members' children. Hooman was only two years old and we were very much attached to each other. For me it was horrifying to leave Hooman with strangers but I left without saying a word…
In Hamburg, my role had been filled by a much more experienced person. I took a group of newcomers and prepared their cases for seeking asylum. I went to Paris to where they were supposed to be transferred. When I arrived at the base in Paris, afraid of them thinking that I was a weak person, I did not mention how much I missed Hooman. I did not even ask about him straight after arriving at the base. I found him in the evening when we were gathering for supper. My little man with his backpack. He ran towards me and threw himself into my arms. But I was expected to hide my emotions; pain and happiness.
I lived for a whole year in such a closed, inter-dependent society. My responsibility was similar to that of my husband. We both had to make acceptable refugee stories for our new colleagues who were coming form Iran and in some cases the ones who were being transferred from the US to France. We had to make ID documents for them so that they would be living like normal people without attracting suspicion. There we would falsify IDs and make false documents such as driving licences. The Mojahedin had their own driving instructions which was even stricter than normal driving rules. Passing red lights, taking the metro without tickets and similar offences would attract attention and therefore would not be tolerated.
For the ones who had come from Iran or even the USA, the easiest way was to apply for political asylum. Those who came from the USA did not know anything about Iran. Usually they had left Iran when they were very young and had grown up in the US and were recruited by the MKO in the same atmosphere. When they would arrive in Paris, the first question I would ask them was if they had any story for themselves to present when asking for asylum. Some of them would come out with stories which clearly were taken from Hollywood films. "I was arrested and sent to prison and then I ran away from prison and left the country!".
In the stories I would make, if two individuals would arrive say from Spain, the next one would come from say Germany. According to the orders of the organisation, most of the newcomers would and should hide their relations with the MKO or in extreme cases would present themselves as sympathisers of the organisation. We did not want anyone to know how fast the MKO was growing in the west and specially that a small country had been established inside France. Of course we had the top ranking MKO officials who would present themselves with their true identities and would join the others in Paris. They would be presented to the authorities as the public figures of the MKO, but following their cases was not part of my duties.
I alone during this one year made up about 150 stories for asylum cases. It was going forward very smoothly and the percentage of acceptance was very high. Some even would be accepted in a matter of less than one month…
…I was trying to introduce changes to the stories of different people. But from the other side it was very difficult for me to accept that the French government did not know anything about our activities. There were thousands of our people active in Paris and it did not take long before the French newspapers started writing about it.
In the end, Massoud Rajavi went to Iraq… although the Mojahedin were still active in Washington, Cologne and London getting their orders from Paris.
They were very hard days in Iran…
Long prison sentences and executions were taking place every day and opposite to the Iranian regime the Mojahedin was the most organised opposition. The Iranian regime was worried about the MKO's ability to organise its supporters in the west. The Mojahedin had a strong international lobby. It was a respected organisation which had relations with politicians in Washington. London, Paris and the United Nations.
The Resistance against the mullahs' regime, which was the most hated regime in the world, enjoyed wide support, whether this resistance was from the Mojahedin or Saddam Hussein…
Still, even with all this support, the Mojahedin carried out their activities in hiding and underground. Even in France. They would not trust anyone. They knew that, given the chance, the French would prefer their own interests to the Mojahedin's. Eventually this happened. In 1986, France expelled Massoud Rajavi to Iraq where he established his National Liberation Army as the military wing of the National Council of Resistance. This army of course was made with Saddam's support and was armed and trained by him…
At the same time, Saddam Hussein allowed them to contact the PoWs [Iranian soldiers captured by Iraqis in the eight year war] and attract them to join the struggle against the Iranian regime. At the start, my husband and myself had similar responsibilities and worked together in the same place. We also shared a room in the same house that we kept the children. But even then we did not have much contact with each other. The organisation would accuse us of being too dependant on each other. In particular they would expect Farrokh, who was more senior and had more experience, to put aside his dependencies. They told him to move to the logistics section in order to solve his problems (dependency). He was moved to the central kitchen. His responsibility was to clean meat. For Farrokh who was an intellectual and in love with writing and music this was very degrading. My problem was that I had very little time for Hooman. I had arranged my work in a way that I could go home every night. When Hooman would go to sleep, I would return to work and sometimes work all night and go to him just before he would wake up …
We were working all the time. Weekends and holidays did not mean anything. We were not allowed to have any kind of friendship with anyone. We did not trust each other. You would try not to say a lot about yourself or others. Your relation with others would be just in the framework of the organisational relations. You would be under control all the time. Everyone had to write periodic reports about other people. Every one of us had someone else as a supervisor. We were obliged to write daily reports about our own actions and about others surrounding us. We had to express our own and other people's thoughts and actions which were considered anti-revolutionary. …
In the places where we lived, we also had very restrictive rules…
We had our own thoughts about and ways of bringing up our children, but these did not match the rules imposed by the organisation on us. I sacrificed my family life for revolutionary aims...
...My dissatisfaction about the
very unusual way of life we were leading and the framework in which we were
imprisoned was increasing day by day…
After the first [military]
operation I understood the situation the Mojahedin were in. But due to my
love toward my husband, Farrokh, I continued working with them. I believed
that the regime understood no language except violence. I resorted to this
strategy since there was no alternative.