Human tragedy in prospect; Mojgan Parsai the first volunteer (An interview with Batool Soltani on MKO self-immolations - Part 8)
Human tragedy in prospect; Mojgan Parsai the first volunteer
An interview with Batool Soltani on MKO self-immolations - Part 8
... In the department I was, Mojgan Parsai was the first who broached the subject and she was also the first volunteer. Her first sentence to begin was ‘It is worthwhile to set on fire whatever we have in Camp Ashraf for Maryam’s freedom’. Of course, what she said was another interpretation of Massoud Rajavi’s message stating that ...
Sahar Family Foundation: In our last session we talked about the possibility of a human tragedy. You said that all volunteers had signed a written pledge for self-immolation. The question is, to what degree the organization can exploit these signed pledges to stage a human tragedy?
Batool Soltani: This is an issue of high potentiality. In fact, these letters helped the organization have an effective evaluation to plot its future scenarios. They are substructures on which the organization will lay the groundwork for its political strategies. But regardless of these potential means and developing a true assessment of the devoted on whom it can relay, it shows the organization’s own fascination in such activities that are some true aspects of cultic relations. Admittedly, most cults behave according to pre-planned scenarios in their relations with the outside world. It is also the same with Mojahedin. When a member like Sedigheh Mojaveri commits self-immolation, for sure her feat has been already discussed in detail in higher echelons of the organization. It fails to be an arbitrary decision, not even one percent, to step into the street and set oneself on fire; any instance of unbridled passion is absolutely rejected by the organization and fails to be accounted as an organizationally directed objective. Frankly speaking, no member of the organization with whatever ranking, being in charge of any post or else, hardly takes a step uncontrolled and uncoordinated by the organization. In a hierarchical order within an organization with tight discipline and very limited internal democracy, the responsible ranks have to be aware of the slightest overt and covert things about the members under their authority and there is nothing kept secret about the members in respect to their status. For example, I was in England for four years and my massul (the one in charge) was aware of the single moments of my stay there; it was the same with the members under my authority. Hardly can you find an organization with so strong sense of cohesion and tight internal discipline. Consequently, no decision of self-immolation remains concealed from the ranks in charge and nobody ever dares to disobey the organization to engage in any self-motivated act of suicide.
SFF: From what layer of the organization were specifically the first volunteers of self-immolation in Camp Ashraf? Can you, for instance, name the first volunteer?
BS: You know, anything in an organization emerges from the top layers and gradually, through a well orchestrated mechanism, is spread to lower layers. It is done so skillfully that after a while those in the top can hardly believe that what is so easily embraced and theorized among the lower ranks is a magnified reflex of what had been originated in the top.
SFF: Now, can you name the first volunteer for self-immolation in Camp Ashraf when it was resolved on the act?
BS: In the department I was, Mojgan Parsai was the first who broached the subject and she was also the first volunteer. Her first sentence to begin was ‘It is worthwhile to set on fire whatever we have in Camp Ashraf for Maryam’s freedom’. Of course, what she said was another interpretation of Massoud Rajavi’s message stating that we had to make use of all our facilities and potentialities wherever we were to set Maryam free. He would say any Mojahed breathing on this planet had to be ready to sincerely sacrifice and set on fire whatever he had for the sake of Maryam. Thus, it all began in the echelon of the Leadership Council and the enthusiast slid down to the lower layers. It is also the same with other issues. Consider, for instance, they want to elect a first secretary. The candidate would be elected in the first layers of the Leadership Council but remained secret. Idiomatically they would say ‘let the string of anything loose and it will unwind to the lowest layers’. They meant that whatever they decided on would be indirectly conveyed to the lesser ranks down to the bottom where it again quickly and energetically bounces back to the top layers as something new. Now it was our time to galvanize them into action and arrange a formal meeting to elect the one we had already decided on. None of the members present at the meeting knew what was really going on and how they had been inculcated to vote for Mojgan Parsai or Sedigheh Hussaini for example. Anything would end happily. On the one hand the top layers had picked up their favorite one and on the other hand, it would be propagated that a candidate had been elected through a totally democratic process. Everyone thought that his/her has been respectfully accomplished. Now suppose that somebody from the top layers had decided to commit self-immolation. The decision had to be discussed in detail in all three layers of the Leadership Council before being approved by the first secretary and the leadership. I mean to say again that nobody with whatever ranking and organizational status, even if a proxy for the leadership, could take a perverse and decisive action or decision for whatever personal and organizational objective. Only those familiar with the layers of the Leadership Council can understand what I mean. Systematically, when one from the top volunteers for self-immolation, as I did, it denotes that the person has grabbed at the loosed string whether he accedes to it or not. When I myself unwillingly volunteered for the act, in fact, I was sizing the string Mojgan Parsai had let down to let it pass to lower levels. It was only a reaction to what the organization tried to instill into the members. When I saw how devoted Mojgan was when she announced her readiness to burn herself for the sake of Maryam, although I did not know how sincere she was in what she claimed, naturally it could impress me to be the second to volunteer. Of course the sincerity is not at all a matter of any significance but the enthusiast and incitement such an atmosphere created among others.
Now the question is how the incitement could provoke the human tragedy you mentioned. Through the same mechanism of the idea being passed down from the top to the down, the crystallized ideas in the lesser layers very easily generate actions and the created enthusiast erupt into actions that may lead to human tragedy. It is much expected among the lower layer than the top since the rank and file are more emotive and impulses from the top easily impress themselves on them. Of course, you may notice that the top layers never fail to show off their emotions but for sure they are rational and reasonable when they have to act. That is why they are the first to volunteer but hardly the last to put the words into action; unlike them, the lesser layers are resolute not only to do what they volunteer themselves for but also enter a compete and try to outstrip each other. That is how it may end to a human tragedy in its worst form. When I see that a ranking member like Mojgan Parsai volunteers for self-immolation, what do you expect of me as a subordinate! To be sure, as I have been already notified, I will not be the one to set myself on fire when the time comes because I know they will never let me harm myself as one belonging to the higher echelon. However, the occurrence of a human tragedy inside Camp Ashraf depends on Massoud Rajavi’s will and a number of other factors well identified by him to trigger the disaster. And it is all because of the strategically decisive role Camp Ashraf plays in Mojahedin’s existence and survival. So important an issue it is for Mojahedin that it requires a long discourse.
To be continued
(Mehdi Abrishamchi and Massoud Rajavi taking orders from Saddam's head of secret services)
(Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, cult leaders)
(Maryam Rajavi directly ordered the massacre of Kurdish people)
BAGHDAD / Aswat al-Iraq: A renegade from the anti-Iran opposition group Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK) (aka People’s Mujahedin of Iran or PMOI) revealed that the organization was involved in suppressing the 1991 al-Intifada al-Shaabaniya against the former regime of Saddam Hussein.
“MEK played a prominent role in repressing the intifada in the southern Iraqi cities in 1991 as it sent forces from the organization to the cities of al-Amara and Diala, as the former regime did not rely on its soldiers more than relying on the MEK fighters in this particular respect,” Batoul Soltani said in a press conference she held in Baghdad on Saturday.
On whether she was read to stand before the Iraqi judiciary regarding her involvement in repressing the intifada, Soltani replied, “I am ready to stand before the Iraqi courts to give my testimony on this case.”
“MEK used to back militias inside Iraq by training them and have them infiltrate the present Iraqi institutions,” Soltani, a former member of the MEK leadership council, said, declining to name those “militias.”
The 1991 uprisings were a series of rebellions in southern and northern Iraq in the aftermath of the Gulf War.
The revolts in the Shia-dominated cities of Basra and al-Nasiriya broke out in March 1991, sparked by demoralized Iraqi army troops returning from Iraq’s defeat in the Gulf War.
Another uprising in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq broke out shortly thereafter. Unlike the spontaneous rebellion in the south, the uprising in the north was organized by two rival Kurdish parties: Massoud Barazani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
Although they represented a serious threat to his regime, former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was able to suppress the rebellions with massive force and maintain power, as the expected United States intervention never materialized.
The uprisings were eventually crushed by the Iraqi Republican Guard, which was followed by mass reprisals and intensified forced relocations. In a few weeks, tens of thousands of civilians were allegedly killed.
The prime defendant in this case is Ali Hassan al-Majid, alias Chemical Ali, who was condemned to death on charges of crimes against humanity in the al-Anfal case, in his capacity as former commander of the Southern Zone, based in Basra, and member of the dissolved Revolutionary Command Council.
Other defendants include Sultan Hashim, the former Iraqi defense minister; Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti, former assistant chief of staff; Saber Abdul-Aziz al-Dori, the former chief of military intelligence; Sabaawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, former President Saddam Hussein’s half brother; Abad Hamid Mahmud, Saddam’s personal secretary; Abdul Ghani Abdul Ghafour, a former Baath Party official; Saadi Taama Abbas, the former minister of defense; Iyad Fatieh al-Rawi, former chief of staff and a Republican Guard commander; Latif Mahal Hamoud, former Basra governor; Sufyan Maher al-Tikriti, also a former Republican Guard commander; Iyad Taha Shehab, a former intelligence chief and Walied Hamid Tawfiq al-Naseri.
Soltani said she has heard from MEK chief Massoud Rajavi after the fall of the former regime in 2003 that the handover of their weapons to the U.S. side was a “tactical plan,” adding “MEK boasts a very strong intelligence system”.
The defector said she has spent more than 20 years of her life inside Camp Ashraf before she managed to escape a couple of years ago. Soltani has come to Iraq in 1986 with her husband using a fake passport and remained inside the camp until she was able to run away after the 2003 fall of the Saddam Hussein regime.
PMOI is a militant Islamic Socialist organization that advocates the overthrow of Iran’s current government.Founded in 1965, the PMOI was originally devoted to armed struggle against the Shah of Iran, capitalism, and Western imperialism.The group officially renounced violence in 2001 and today it is the main organization in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an “umbrella coalition” parliament-in-exile that claims to be dedicated to a democratic, secular and coalition government in Iran.The group has had thousands of its members for many years in bases in Iraq, but “they were disarmed in the wake” of the 2003 US-led invasion and “are said to have adhered to a ceasefire.”The PMOI’s armed wing is, or was, called the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA).
The Iranian government officially refers to the organization as the Monafeqin (literally, “Hypocrites“), maintaining that PMOI is not truly Islamic.The United States, European Union (EU), Canada, Iraq and Iran have designated the PMOI a terrorist organization.Although the European Court of Justice has overturned the EU designation in December 2006, the Council of the EU declared on January 30, 2007 that it would maintain the organization on the blacklist.
Camp Ashraf, which lies in the province of Diala, 57 km northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, exists since the 1980s. The PMOI members in Iraq were collaborating with the former regime of Saddam during its war with Iran from 1980 to 1988.
Soltani called on the Iraqi government to “target all the leaders of the MEK,” expressing readiness to help the Iraqi government on this.
“There are about 3,000 MEK fighters whose hands are tied under the strong control of Massoud Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi. They do not have any media channels to exprss themselves and for more than 20 years they have been hearing nothing except the voices of those leaders,” noted Soltani.
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.