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Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) terrorists in Iraq battle using press releases targetting UNAMI
Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) terrorists in Iraq battle using press releases targetting UNAMI
... But soon after, the group began complaining about conditions in Camp Liberty and accusing the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which in January said Liberty met "international humanitarian standards," of misrepresenting conditions there. The PMOI's focus on public relations campaigns marked by frequent statements to the media and cultivating well-known western politicians to speak on its behalf differs dramatically from its past activities. The leftwing group was founded in the 1960s to oppose the shah of Iran, but took up arms against the country's new clerical rulers after the 1979 Islamic revolution ...
Iran exiles in Iraq do battle using press releases
An Iraq-based Iranian opposition group that is fixated on conspiracy theories allegedly carried out attacks in Iran and elsewhere for decades, but now relies on a different weapon: the press release.
The United Nations mission here, which has been attempting to facilitate the exit of some 3,400 members of the opposition People's Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) from Iraq, where they have been based for decades, has been the latest target of the group's statement-issuing ire.
Iraq wants the PMOI out of its territory, and signed an agreement with the UN in December to that end.
On February 18, the first group of 397 exiles moved from their longtime base of Camp Ashraf in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad to Camp Liberty, a former US military base near the Iraqi capital, as part of that process.
But soon after, the group began complaining about conditions in Camp Liberty and accusing the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which in January said Liberty met "international humanitarian standards," of misrepresenting conditions there.
The PMOI's focus on public relations campaigns marked by frequent statements to the media and cultivating well-known western politicians to speak on its behalf differs dramatically from its past activities.
The leftwing group was founded in the 1960s to oppose the shah of Iran, but took up arms against the country's new clerical rulers after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The US State Department, which blacklists the PMOI as a terrorist organisation, says it has carried out attacks that killed Iranians, as well as American soldiers and civilians, from the 1970s into 2001.
Now-executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein allowed the PMOI to establish Camp Ashraf in Iraq after he launched the 1980-88 war with Iran in which the group reportedly fought alongside his forces, and provided financial backing to the group.
But the PMOI said it renounced violence in 2001 and its members in Iraq were disarmed following the 2003 US-led invasion, leaving it in need of other tactics.
It successfully campaigned to be delisted as a terrorist organisation in Europe and is working to do the same in the US too.
A day after the first group of the exiles moved to Liberty, PMOI spokesman Shahriar Kia sent a statement by email alleging a UN expert who assessed the camp told "lies" and apparently "was compelled to file an unrealistic report," with "necessary modifications" made by "political authorities" from UNAMI.
"The bungalows and toilet facilities" were "dirty and unusable," and "there is serious water shortage and electricity is cut off, as in prisons, after 10.30 pm."
A statement emailed the next day described Camp Liberty as "a highly controlled prison," referring to the presence of Iraqi security forces.
Iraqi forces carried out two deadly raids on Camp Ashraf in 2009 and 2011, leaving dozens of people dead.
It continued: "Everything shows that at the behest of the Iranian regime, the Iraqi government has turned this camp into a prison and regretfully, UNAMI and (UN envoy) Mr Martin Kobler himself ... assist in this prison-making by confirming it as a refugee camp."
Another email from Kia on February 27 referred to the "lies that Martin Kobler made to the residents of Camp Ashraf for a forcible relocation to Camp Liberty."
When asked about the PMOI statements, Kobler told AFP that Camp Liberty "was host of 5,000 American soldiers, so it should be possible to have the infrastructure ready also for these 400 persons who are now living there."
"I do not think that the infrastructure problem is the problem," he said.
"If there is garbage, the garbage can be removed and should be removed, and the government of Iraq stands ready ... to have garbage trucks available, but they have to enter the camp to remove the garbage," he said.
"The aim of the whole exercise is to have the ... refugee status determination moving," he said, referring to a process which must be completed before the exiles can be resettled.
The PMOI meanwhile says it is facing "conspiracies."
"The whole plan for the relocation of the residents of Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty is an Iranian plan, and the mullah?s regime?s plan, and nobody else," Kia said in an interview with AFP, referring to the cleric-led government in Tehran.
He referred to the new camp as "Prison Liberty," saying that "their plan is to destroy the Iranian opposition" there.
Kia also said that "espionage cameras and ... eavesdropping devices" in Liberty give information "to the Iranian embassy and to the agents of the Iranian regime."
When asked about the purpose of the flurry of statements on the UN, Kia referred to demands over Camp Liberty.
These include the removal of Iraqi armed forces from Liberty and freedom of movement for residents, but also, despite numerous statements accusing the UN of lying about conditions there, a demand for around-the-clock UN monitoring.
Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) members evacuating Ashraf camp
... Relocating the MKO members is according to an agreement reached between the United Nations and Iraq in December, which is expected to facilitate the MKO’s complete exit from Iraq. The Iraqi National security advisor stated that under the deal, the UN and the Iraqi government agreed to relocate 3,400 MKO members living in Camp Ashraf. He further added that Baghdad has decided to close Camp Ashraf in Iraq's Diyala province by the end of 2011, but the government later agreed to extend the deadline to April. The head of the UN envoy to Iraq said that all the MKO members will be interviewed to find a host country for those refugees ...
In a first step toward evacuating the anti-Iran MKO terrorists’ camp and expelling its members from Iraq, the Iraqi government has announced the transfer of 400 MKO members from Ashraf camp to a former US Military base.
The transfer procedures were under the supervision of the UN representatives and the Iraqi government.
The military operation center in Diyala deployed security forces all the way down from the MKO camp in Diyala to Baghdad to secure the movement of the MKO members.
Relocating the MKO members is according to an agreement reached between the United Nations and Iraq in December, which is expected to facilitate the MKO’s complete exit from Iraq.
The Iraqi National security advisor stated that under the deal, the UN and the Iraqi government agreed to relocate 3,400 MKO members living in Camp Ashraf.
He further added that Baghdad has decided to close Camp Ashraf in Iraq's Diyala province by the end of 2011, but the government later agreed to extend the deadline to April.
The head of the UN envoy to Iraq said that all the MKO members will be interviewed to find a host country for those refugees.
Iraq considers the MKO base and its residents a threat to its national security but, has been pressured by the west to extend the existence of the camp on its soil.
The MKO is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community and is responsible for numerous acts of terror and violence against Iranian civilians and officials as well as anti-Saddam Iraqi civilians mostly in the 1990s. Iraqis hold the MKP responsible for acts of terror under Saddam Hussein’s regime
Diyala Governor: Human Rights, Deporting MEK, Imposing the Laws, non negotiable
... Massoud Khodabandeh heading the delegation thanked the Government of Iraq and asked the Governor of Diyala and the General to help inform the people trapped inside about their rights and to counter the lies given to them by the hostage takers and cult leaders. Ms Abdollahi on behalf of the families asked for help and for care to be taken when dismantling the camp to institute particular safeguards to protect the relatives of the picketing families. Ms Sanjabi, (formerly a member of the MEK Leadership Council), who managed to escape some months ago, explained ...
A meeting was held on Monday 21 November between officials of the Diyala province and family representatives of the people trapped in Camp Ashraf.
The Governor of Diyala, Dr Abdul–Nasser Al-Mahdwe stated clearly that:
1- There will be no compromise on the decision to deport the MEK.
2 - There will be no compromise on imposing national and international laws
3 - There will be no compromise on respect for human rights laws and agreements and therefore they will not be forcefully returned to Iran.
He said that the overall decisions will rest with central government but as far as Diyala is concerned there is no room for the MKO anywhere inside the province. This has been announced repeatedly by practically all the leaders of tribes and local officials. Dr Al-Mahdwe dismissed completely the MEK propaganda in which they claim they have some support and said that to claim, after what they have done, that the MEK have even a small percentage of support in the province is simply a lie and is purely fictitious.
General Abdol Amir Al-Zeidi, is the commander of the regional army and responsible for the protection of the camp. He said that he has met many escapees from the camp. The last one was a woman who had to drag herself out and crawl for about half a kilometer before reaching the Iraqis. He said the leaders are the problem not the trapped people and if given order we are prepared to transfer them out of the camp with the utmost dignity and care and respect for their wellbeing. He said this can be checked by reporters and human rights organisation who wish to observe the operation.
The General said that in the event they receive the order to evacuate the camp, they will try their utmost to stop the leaders killing the hostages and the disaffected members as they did before. According to the General most of the people who were killed in April 2011 were in opposition to the leadership and had been shot in the heart or in the head. But the leaders tried to cover up such facts even though the evidence is unequivocal. He said reports will be handed over to the authorities to deal with the cases of murder of these people at the hands of the hostage takers.
Massoud Khodabandeh heading the delegation thanked the Government of Iraq and asked the Governor of Diyala and the General to help inform the people trapped inside about their rights and to counter the lies given to them by the hostage takers and cult leaders.
Ms Abdollahi on behalf of the families asked for help and for care to be taken when dismantling the camp to institute particular safeguards to protect the relatives of the picketing families.
Ms Sanjabi, (formerly a member of the MEK Leadership Council), who managed to escape some months ago, explained the latest developments inside the camp and gave some ideas about how the leaders may try to plan and execute violent resistance.
Mr and Mrs Mohammady from Canada who have been trying since before 2003 to rescue their daughter from the camp, presented some documents including copies of the arrest warrants for some leading members of the MKO inside the camp which the General received and promised to follow up.
Other delegation members including Mr. Azizi a Human rights activist from Netherlands Mr Sadeghi, one of the few people who managed to escaped from the camp during the time of Saddam Hussein, Mr Ghashghavi who spent years in Abu Ghraib, where he was sent by Rajavi, Mr. Ferydouni who managed to escape a few weeks ago and Ms Mahdian whose husband, a registered POW, is trapped inside the camp also participated in the meeting.
Press and media were present and the Governor and the General gave a media briefing following the meeting which was broadcast live through official and national media.
... Mr Adnan Al-Shahmani, head of the Parliamentary Committee to oversee the expulsion of the MEK announced in the Conference that the deadline would not be extended and that the camp will be closed by the end of the year. He also explained that the Iraqi Judiciary had issued its final verdict that the camp should be closed... Mr Al- Shahmani also criticized the West for its silence toward the crimes committed by the group against civilians, and asked international communities not to remain silent in the case of the abuse of the rights of the families of the victims of the MEK ...
A Conference in Baghdad University on Friday 25 November was organised by Al-Edalat Al-Iraqi Society, headed by Dr Nafe Al-Isa, which represents the families of 25,000 Iraqi victims of the MEK.
The Conference was held in Al-Hakim Conference Centre in Baghdad University and hundreds of tribal leaders, University lecturers, Governmental representatives and officials, NGOs and media representatives filled the salon. Although Camp Ashraf and the MEK is an issue specific to the government and citizens of Iraq, the Conference organisers made sure to invite Western agencies, such as the UN, EU and diplomats who have claimed or expressed an interest in Camp Ashraf. Unfortunately, however, any such invitees were apparently unable to leave the Green Zone to attend the Conference and talk to the delegates.
Opening the Conference, Dr Nafe, speaking on behalf of the families of victims of MEK violence, asked that those MEK leaders who were responsible for this violence be brought to justice before their deportation.
Speakers from the government and NGOs all emphasized that the deadline for deportation must be strictly adhered to and that Iraqi and international law against terrorism and crime must be upheld. Other speakers, in particular the tribal leaders spoke about the MEK’s crimes which they have witnessed in recent years in Diyala province. They were highly critical of the failure of the American military to dismantle the camp after 2003, and were scathing of the continued American backing which allowed the camp to be used for training and inciting terrorism against Iraqis.
On this theme, Jasem Al- Ebadi, Member of Parliament and member of the parliamentary Human Rights Commission used his speech to criticise EU efforts to keep the terrorist group intact and their opposition to the deportation process. He commented that if they are so in love with this terrorist group, why don't they take them to their own countries?
(Mr. Al- Shahmani, MP)
Mr Adnan Al-Shahmani, head of the Parliamentary Committee to oversee the expulsion of the MEK announced in the Conference that the deadline would not be extended and that the camp will be closed by the end of the year. He also explained that the Iraqi Judiciary had issued its final verdict that the camp should be closed and the land handed back to the original owners.
Mr Al- Shahmani also criticized the West for its silence toward the crimes committed by the group against civilians, and asked international communities not to remain silent in the case of the abuse of the rights of the families of the victims of the MEK.
(Mr. Al- Shahmani, meeting families)
Mr Al-Shahmani also met with the representatives of the families of hostages inside Camp Ashraf and the delegation from European countries who are campaigning to ensure a peaceful outcome to the standoff at the camp.
Massoud Khodabandeh, from Middle East Strategy Consultants which is working with the Iraqi government to resolve the situation at Camp Ashraf, introduced his book ‘The Life of Camp Ashraf – Mojahedin-e Khalq Victims of Many Masters’ to the Conference. The book places the MEK in the context of its foreign ownership and concludes that these owners have invested heavily in the MEK’s ability to commit acts of violence and terrorism, and that this is the reason for western resistance to closing the camp. The book particularly highlights the MEK’s refusal to allow residents of the camp to have contact with their immediate families as a fundamental human rights abuse of every person in the camp.
Ms Abdollahi represented the families and asked for help to release the hostages (including her own son) from the camp. Ms Abdollahi reminded the Conference that the families’ struggle to find their relatives had been going on since 2003 and that a permanent picket had been established two years ago. She stressed that when searching for a solution the families of course have the security and safety of all the residents as their utmost priority. The families have the simplest and easily granted request – to visit their loved ones who are in the camp. This does not depend on the removal of the MEK from Iraq and would be simple to do. The only barrier to this request is the order of the MEK leaders Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. They can easily resolve this issue by ordering that the families of MEK members be allowed to have free and unfettered contact with their loved ones.
Ms Sanjabi is an ex-member of the MEK’s women only Leadership Council. She managed to escape from Camp Ashraf very recently, and explained the dire situation of the women inside the camp, detailing disturbing and shocking human rights abuses which are currently being carried out against the residents by the MEK leaders.
Ms Mahdian, whose husband is a hostage inside the camp, explained how Saddam’s Intelligence services gave her husband to the MEK as a slave, even though he had been and is still a registered POW, captured at the start of the Iran-Iraq war. Ms Mahdian explained that her son has not seen his father for the past 25 years and the MEK would not allow this visit even after two years of picketing.
Mr Sadeghi from Germany, who is one of the few members who managed to run away from the camp successfully during the time of Saddam Hussein, presented and explained evidence of recent MEK interference in the internal affairs of Iraq, their collaboration with Saddamists and other terrorist groups, and the MEK’s active role in intensifying the insurgency.
Mr Ghashghavi also from Germany, served eight years without trial in Saddam’s prisons including Abu Ghraib for refusing to carry out Massoud Rajavi’s orders to commit criminal acts. Mr Ghashghavi explained how Rajavi and Saddam would force people to either kill others or be sent to the torture chambers themselves and be killed.
(Mr. Ezati and Ms. Sanjabi)
Another ex-MEK member, Mr Ezati who now lives in the Netherlands, gave interviews to the media explaining the situation inside the camp and the constant abuse of human rights of the victims. Mr Ezati strongly criticized the unfortunate media silence over these human rights abuses which he ascribed to the pervasive influence of the MEK’s powerful backers who regard the MEK as “good terrorists”.
Tens of ex-MEK members who work with Nejat Association in Iran, also attended the Conference and were interviewed by the media. They explained that Nejat Association, which works closely with the families of the hostages, now has the capacity to help those survivors who wish to do so, to go back to their country under the amnesty which was granted by the Iranian authorities in 2003 (which is based on the understanding that the MEK members have been subjected to the coercion and control of cult leaders) and which to date has been upheld under the supervision of the ICRC.
Conference attendees were particularly interested in the testimony of three recently escaped camp residents who gave full and detailed explanations to the media about the harsh reality of being a captive inside Camp Ashraf. They spoke about the total information blackout and social and emotional isolation they experienced there. They emphasized that the leaders and the hostage takers lie constantly to the residents so that the captives have no idea about the outside world. They are made to believe that the MEK leaders are directly supported by the Americans and that if they tried to escape the camp they would be immediately shot, or now, after being tortured by the Iraqis they would be handed over to Iran to be executed without trial. They said that if they were given the true facts and information, there is not one person in the camp who would still want to stay in the desert of Iraq nearly nine years after disarmament. They urged international organizations, especially the US representatives and UNAMI, who are the only organizations with close relations with the hostage takers, to take advantage of their weekly meetings inside Camp Ashraf with the hostage takers, to persuade them to open up the flow of information and convince them to give people the right to family visits as well as normal means of communication such as writing and telephones, etc.
These recently escaped hostages also urged UNAMI not to present the hostage takers as the representatives of the hostages in the media outputs. Instead they should be clear that Rajavi is no one’s representative and as long as the negotiators have not met with the hostages without the presence of the MEK commanders - the hostage takers - outside the camp, they have no right to claim anything on their behalf. They said they believe that UNAMI and the American backers of the cult are in breach of international law for siding with the terrorists as these are people who have abused the human rights of over 3000 people for decades. The survivors of Camp Ashraf are now taking legal advice to claim compensation for their suffering and losses from the MEK leaders.