Ms Batul Soltani, former member of the Leadership Council of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), has written the following letter to the members of the European Parliament about the situation of the MKO terrorist cult (aka National Council of Resistance of Iran–NCRI) in Iraq and their base known as Ashraf garrison:
My name is Batul Soltani and I was a leading member of the MKO when I left the cult about two years ago. I was born in Isfahan in 1965 and I left Iran along with my husband to join the organization in 1986. We were married for 8 months then and I was pregnant. We entered Iraq from Pakistan in 1987 when my first child was 2 months old. My second child was born in Iraq.
In 1991 the MKO leaders, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, introduced the compulsory divorces to the members, and forced us to separate from our spouses and to abandon our children and send them all to Europe and the US. My 5 year old daughter was sent to Sweden and my 6 month old son was sent to the Netherlands, both with false identities. I have not seen them since. I objected these practices at that time but I had no choice as we were all trapped in a dangerous destructive cult. The terrorist MKO still prevents me from having normal contact with my children.
I was sent to England with a fake passport for about 3 years (1994 – 1997) and even during this period I had no chance to see my children. I was mainly based in a collective house working with a computer.
I spent about two decades of my life with this organization and I know how the people inside Ashraf garrison, which is run like a prison, feel. I managed to escape from Ashraf risking my life in late 2006 and reached the American forces base nearby and sought refuge with them for about a year. Finally I managed to settle in Baghdad. Now I try to help the MKO dissidents in Iraq. I traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan and to Turkey to help the former members of the MKO who have escaped from Ashraf garrison and who are living in a very difficult situation.
I had a series of interviews for Sahar Family Foundation in Baghdad about my experiences with the MKO. Up to number 10 of these interviews have been translated into English and you can read them at the following link:
The main issue of the MKO is the matter of violation of human rights (Human Rights Watch report – May 2005). The leaders of the MKO terrorist cult are denying the most basic rights of their members who are mentally manipulated using sophisticated psychological methods. The some 3400 individuals in the Ashraf garrison have no access to the outside world. They have been made to believe that they are obliged to stay there and like all other cult followers they think that the outside world is satanic and corrupt and they will only be saved in that heaven!
I have been informed that a resolution on Ashraf garrison in Iraq which is the headquarters of the National Liberation Army (NLA – aka MKO) is going to be discussed early next week in the EP at the request of the supporters of this terrorist cult.
As a member of the MKO for about 20 years, I wish to ask all European Parliamentarians to focus on the following basic considerations for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Ashraf garrison:
- Free access of all members to their families using communication means such as post and telephone, and letting them to visit their family members who come to Iraq to see them somewhere outside Ashraf garrison without the presence of the MKO officials.
- Free access to the general media as well as books and publications for all members without any limitations imposed by the MKO officials
- Free access of all members to the Iraqi authorities without going through the channels of the MKO officials (in this regard every individual in the Ashraf garrison must initially be interviewed privately outside the garrison by the Iraqi authorities to learn whether the person wishes to remain an MKO member or not).
I should emphasize that the major threat against the lives and morals of the inhabitants of Ashraf garrison comes from the leaders of the cult since they have warned on many occasions that if they are not allowed to run their cult as they are doing now they will force all their followers to commit self-immolations the same way they did in 10 European cities in June 2003 after the detention of Maryam Rajavi in Paris charged with planning and conducting terrorism.
I am ready to meet anyone interested, anywhere and at any time to discuss what is going on inside this notorious cultic base called Ashraf in Iraq. I also urge all parliamentarians to take into consideration the issue of human rights for the captive members of the MKO in Iraq and also the just stances of the Iraqi government in this regard.
The most important matter within MKO is the way members have to make their relationships with their outer self or the so called point of outer self (cult jargon).
(Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, cult leaders)
To define this issue, you should first discuss the leadership in MKO. I mean that they consider the relationships of a member limited to his relationships with the leadership only. In fact, the position of the leadership is so special that everything is defined or formed on that base. The first paragraph of the manifesto of the ideological revolution says: "there is an obstacle between each member and the leader" which should be removed. For example Rajavi officially questioned that: "who is in the bottom of your heart?", and then declared that "I want Maryam to be there instead."
It is definitely funny to fill the bottom of our hearts with someone else (other than Masud). When Masud says that he doesn’t want anyone - parents, relatives, spouses … - to be in the bottom of our heart except Maryam, he means that the members should only be with him. "Maryam" is the nickname for Masud. This is also a deceit because they indirectly say that the substitute for parents, children, and spouses … is Maryam. Maryam, is just a puppet who must praise Masud every day. They have set a structure that her daily job is to lead the members, canalize them and control them for the time Masud wants to launch an operation and achieve his goals.
(A cult session in Ashraf Camp Iraq - under the protection of Saddam)
For Example, they clearly declared that every individual resembles a mathematical fraction. It means that everyone consists of a numerator and a denominator. They say that the numerator is Maryam and the denominator is Masud, Where the numerator equals breath and the denominator equals blood. It means that so long as the member is alive and is breathing, he must work for Maryam and whenever Masud desires, he must sacrifice his blood . Therefore, they own the individuality of the member. And this was the reason for Maryam’s election as a co-leader. Masud chose a woman who was in fact his comrade’s wife. He sought after her. Then they married and their story began: Maryam became the first person in charge of MKO (after Masud who was the spiritual leader) and they carried on until Maryam said: "every member of the organization should follow my path.” This was defined differently for men and women. Basically in this way, they elected the first group of leadership council : they chose the female members who acted as Masud desired. They had to perform exactly what Masud commanded . They left aside the male members. Why? Because they didn’t want to make the changes Masud wanted. Women fit in the system founded by Masud more easily than men. The women members didn’t do anything by themselves; they executed Masud’s orders more according to his wishes. There are so many male members in MKO who are more knowledgeable, more intelligent and even more skillful than Masud. In that system of controlling, Masud could make all of them to obey his orders. The women were taught how to control the men. In order to prevent men complaining, they gave some of them titles such as "Pins", "Columns" ... (cult jargons) and used them in some tasks which are typically men's work. But actually, the most private problems of men were studied by the women members of the Leadership Council. The worst one was Nasrin (Mahvash Sepehri) who encountered them in the meetings.
Of course, the leadership Council often had arguments that Rajavi had to come and solve the problems personally. I remember when in 1995 the members of the Leadership Council were passive and disappointed, Masud Rajavi held lengthy meetings (15 to 30 days) called the Second Constitutors to convince them. However, Rajavi had the ability to do so. For example he is told that someone has a problem. Rajavi calls him to the microphone and starts up a conversation with him, and after convincing him they finally conciliate. Rajavi is already informed of what kind of personality that member has or what his problem is because his monitoring system has fed him with all information. For example, he knows that the member’s child is dead. He says to him: "well, Reza do you think about your kid?” and poor Reza wonders "what a smart leader he is! He knows everything about me!" therefore Rajavi convinces him that the leader is an extraordinary person who has good relations with all members and remembers all their private issues. Sometimes, they hold some primary meetings before the main meetings. During a primary meeting, they start admiring Masud, describing his abilities and different dimensions of his life, his personality, his activities and the high-quality of his revolution and the short hours of his sleep. Then, they say "you should join such an eternal origin".
(MKO members in European Countries 2003)
Maryam made too much effort to praise Masud. Even she said: "I’m not able to acquaint Masud". I mean Maryam had planned to convince the members that Masud is an extra-ordinary person. She tried her best to convince the members that Masud is superior to his era .
She has silly strategies saying that "we will enter Iran, we will overthrow the regime" but those who are skillful in politics know that this is quite impossible, yet Maryam told the hesitators: "You can’t understand this because what Masud says happens after a few years.
She tried to give him significant characteristics saying that he is linked with an eternal origin.
(Maryam Rajavi directly ordered the massacre of Kurdish people)
Sometimes Masud did the same for Maryam. He began to admire her and Maryam apparently complained against his compliments. This was a game between them. These disgusting relations makes the people outside the organization believe that MKO is a cult of personality. All authorities have to submit their members’ reports to Masud. And Masud reads them all.
Every year, on New Year's Day they give some gifts to the Leadership Council members to affect them emotionally. The gifts include sister Maryam’s watches or necklaces ... or gold medallions with Masud’s portrait on them.
To convince the members to attempt self-immolations or suicide bombing operations, Masud visited them and had a party with them and clearly told them "You shouldn’t get arrested alive, in case of being arrested you have to kill yourselves immediately. "They falsified all religious Hadith (quotations of the Prophet), and even Quran was interpreted in their own way to legitimize the suicide bombing attacks.
Besides, Maryam Rajavi was considered superior to a normal leader. Rajavi’s ambitions are to make Maryam a leader like Masud, an avant-garde of revolutionaries who can replace Masud in his absence. She meets Lords, deputies and MPs. She creates an atmosphere to present a false picture of Masud, herself and MKO.
(Mehdi Abrishamchi and Massoud Rajavi taking orders from Saddam's head of secret services)
MEPs intrigued by accounts of newly arrived escapees from Camp Ashraf
Discussion of the Mojahedin-e Khalq/National Council of Resistance and its activities in the EU Parliament
... Ms Ebrahimi said she saw Mr Paulo Casaca when he visited Camp Ashraf. We were not allowed to approach him and speak to him, she explained to delegates. If they had somewhere to go, she told delegates, without doubt ninety-nine percent of the people in Camp Ashraf would leave the camp and the MKO...
Reported from EU Parliament, Sep. 09, 2008
On Tuesday 9 September a meeting was held by the Delegation for Relations with Iran in the European Parliament. The meeting focused on ‘Discussion of the Mojahedin-e Khalq/National Council of Resistance and its activities in an exchange of views with:
Ms Anne Singleton expert on the MKO Representative of the NCR (declined invitation) Three Residents of Ashraf Refugee Camp who arrived from Iraq in the last couple of weeks: Ms. Ebrahimi, Mr. Hassan Piransar and Mr. Hamid Siah Mansoori. Also present were former MKO members Karim Haggi, Mohammad Sobhani, Hadi Shams Haeri and Ali Ghashghavi, who accompanied the new arrivals to provide support to these vulnerable people.
Ms Angelika Beer, President of the Iran Delegation (Greens/EFA), began by describing the MKO and its activities up to the present time.
Anne Singleton briefly described her own involvement with the MKO for over twenty years.
Asserting that the MKO will not give up the use of violence to achieve its aims, Ms Singleton went on to explain why, in spite of that, she believes that the MKO has currently little to do with the Iranian political scene, but that precisely because it is a cult, its danger is that it interferes in parliamentary democracy in western countries in ways that may even involve criminal activity.
Whilst agreeing that the MKO’s platform of ‘total regime change’ in Iran could be attractive to some politicians in the west, Ms Singleton challenged the delegates to consider whether the MKO would be able to achieve its stated aim – ‘will it do what it says on the tin’? Since its last major offensive against Iran in 1988, the MKO has achieved little to further its aims. She told delegates that they should also consider the possibility that, even if they believe the MKO has changed tactic and intends to pursue its aims only through political opposition, the MKO may not actually be ‘fit for purpose’ She urged them to consider the evidence of the three former residents of Camp Ashraf who have arrived in Europe from Iraq only in the past few weeks, and who would speak later in the meeting about conditions inside the MKO.
Ms Singleton asserted that Iranian people – as those delegates who have visited Iran are aware – are not waiting to be rescued by the MKO and are capable of opposing their own government. Iranian women are not waiting to be taught about feminism by Maryam Rajavi who leads an organisation which – as Batul Ebrahimi will testify - badly abuses women members.
Then Ms Singleton described the current situation of the MKO in Iraq. Control of Camp Ashraf, the MKO’s headquarters, has been transferred from the American military to the Iraqi military. Ms Singleton said that Iraqi government officials are angry at reports which suggest that the MKO would be ‘massacred’ if the Americans handed over Camp Ashraf.
Instead, the people inside the camp are facing a humanitarian crisis because they are not allowed even basic freedoms such as the right to enjoy contact and visits from their families. A rumour has arisen that the Americans have removed around 300 of those captive in Camp Ashraf and left the others. Ms Singleton said that if this is the case then she would consider the remaining 3000 individuals in Camp Ashraf to be ex-members of the MKO. They should be brought to western countries as soon as possible.
Finally, Ms Singleton presented delegates with one solution to the crisis at Camp Ashraf, remove the MKO from the European terrorist list and bring ALL 3,300 residents to Europe where those who are mentally, physically and emotionally sick would be able to receive help.
Ms Singleton finished by reminding delegates that continuing support for the MKO would, of course, mean that the European Parliament accepted to have a cult operating in its midst and continuing to interfere in parliamentary democracy. However, if that is the decision to be made, then so be it.
Ms Beer thanked Anne Singleton for her contribution and asked the three recently arrived, former Camp Ashraf residents to speak.
Ms Ebrahimi (speaking in Farsi) told delegates that she had gone to Camp Ashraf when she was sixteen years old and although she quickly realised she wanted to leave, she was captive there for another ten years. She described conditions for women in the camp. Not only does the MKO not allow women to marry, women are made to work in the scorching sun for hours at a time so their complexions are ruined and they become ugly. This is so they do not develop the vanity to think they could be attractive to a man, she told delegates.
In order to remove hope from the women of ever having a family, they are being sent under surgery for spurious medical conditions to have their wombs removed [hysterectomy] and around ten percent of women in Camp Ashraf have now undergone this surgery. When they tried to impose it on her, Ms Ebrahimi ran away. She begged delegates to take doctors to Camp Ashraf to check the veracity of what she was telling them.
The MKO told her that if she left the camp and went with the American soldiers, they would rape her. For this reason it took two years before she was able to have the courage to escape.
Ms Ebrahimi said she saw Mr Paulo Casaca when he visited Camp Ashraf. We were not allowed to approach him and speak to him, she explained to delegates. If they had somewhere to go, she told delegates, without doubt ninety-nine percent of the people in Camp Ashraf would leave the camp and the MKO.
Mr Hamid Siah Mansoori (speaking English) told delegates he had been in the MKO for over twenty five years. He described how he had gone to Iraq from Canada. He had a good education, and a good life in Canada and had his own business before leaving everything behind in the mid 1980s to go to Iraq. He then described the MKO’s attitude to family. He said no one is allowed to contact their family, except in a few cases where people were told to contact their family to get money from them. He said the MKO told his family he was dead. They came to look for him five years ago – at the beginning of the American occupation – but were told he was dead.
Mr Hamid Siah Mansoori said he had arrived only a week ago, but had lost any contact details for his family. Nevertheless, his first priority now was to make contact with his parents and the rest of his family.
Ms Beer asked delegates if they had questions. One delegate asked how the MKO continued to be financed which allowed them to continue to undertake such expensive campaigns in parliament and elsewhere. Another delegate asked for more detail about the role of the Americans in supporting Camp Ashraf when the US State Department so strongly describes them as a terrorist group.
Anne Singleton answered these questions, pointing out that during the reign of Saddam Hussein the MKO had received almost unlimited finance from Saddam Hussein, as well as from Saudi Arabia and some western governments from behind the scene. Now, however, although it is clear that MKO finances are dwindling somewhat, it was unclear how the MKO could continue to spend so much money, and the only people to answer that are the MKO themselves.
Ms Singleton pointed out a five year rift in policy toward the MKO between the US State Department – which has a very thorough knowledge of the MKO – and the US Defense Department under Donald Rumsfeld. Some in the US Administration wanted to use the MKO in confronting Iran and therefore Camp Ashraf has been protected by the US military in Iraq for five years. Ms Singleton conceded that this protection was beneficial in keeping the MKO out of danger in the midst of a war zone. But that the Americans had also flouted the UN Fourth Geneva protocol by not allowing MKO to meet their families and not enabling them to leave the situation.
Ms Beer then introduced Mr Mohammad Sobhani who had previously addressed the Delegation. Following that meeting he had been the subject of unfounded accusations of having attacked MKO members in Paris. Instead, Mr Sobhani was the victim of a violent attack when some fifty MKO supporters ambushed a meeting at which Mr Sobhani was a speaker.
Following this, Mr Hadi Shams Haeri briefly pleaded with delegates to help him have contact with his children whom he has not been allowed to see for eighteen years. He asked that Mr Paulo Casaca accompany him to Camp Ashraf and help him meet with them again.
At the end of the meeting Ms Beer expressed her appreciation for the speakers and said it had been a valuable meeting. One which, given the ongoing situation at Camp Ashraf, might soon be repeated.
After the meeting, several of the attendees stopped to talk to the visitors – in particular the three who had just arrived from Iraq - and asked them to keep them informed of developments.