Association for the Support of Iranians Living in Albania (ASILA), Tirana, Albania, November 27 2021:… Defectors of the Mujahedin Khalq (MEK) who reside in Albania established an association to support the MEK defectors in Albania. Hassan Heirani, former member of the MEK announced the establishment of the association which is supposed to help Iranians who leave the MEK’s camp in Durres, near Tirana. “The Association was registered as a legal institute to support those who defect the Cult of Rajavi,” Hassan Heirani said. Association for the Support of Iranians living in Albania ( ASILA )
(Translated by Nejat Society)
Formation of the Association for the Support of Iranians living in Albania ( ASILA )
Defectors of the Mujahedin Khalq (MEK) who reside in Albania established an association to support the MEK defectors in Albania.
Hassan Heirani, former member of the MEK announced the establishment of the association which is supposed to help Iranians who leave the MEK’s camp in Durres, near Tirana. “The Association was registered as a legal institute to support those who defect the Cult of Rajavi,” Hassan Heirani said.
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This first meeting of the association was held on Wednesday, November 24th. A number of former members of the group attended the first meeting of ASILA. “As the issuing of ID cards to all non-Albanians has started in Albania, the association supports defectors of the cult in order to enjoy their civil rights, find a job, deal with their legal issues and have a family.” Heirani said. “We will try our best to aid defectors of the MEK to experience a new life, without fears, outside the bars of the terrorist cult of Rajavi.”
The issuing of ID cards for all non-Albanians in Albania was done under the pressure of the European Union is a good opportunity for those who are still taken as hostages by the MEK leaders in Camp Ashraf 3.
Association for the Support of Iranians living in Albania ( ASILA )
Documentation Frees MEK Members
Massoud Khodabandeh, Iran Interlink, May 23 2021:… The new legislation was approved by Albania’s Council of Ministers in December last year. It has now been reviewed by Albania’s Commission on European Integration, which announced that it meets EU requirements. According to Albanian officials, the legislation, which has been in the pipeline for a while, seeks to address shortcomings in the bureaucratic system so as to streamline documentation for various foreign individuals. Examples given are “residence permits of persons without citizenship; residence permits for pensioners; residence permits for travelling employees. Documentation Frees MEK Members
Documentation Frees MEK Members
When the MEK cult was transferred to Albania in 2016, the members were brought by the UNHCR without documentation. They were given $100 US and a piece of paper stating they were being moved ‘on humanitarian grounds’. On arrival in Tirana, the MEK leaders swapped the 100 US dollars for 100 Albanian Lek (worth approximately one dollar). The arrivals were not given ID papers but were left as undocumented foreigners. A new law, however, named ‘For Foreigners’ will soon rectify this situation.
The new legislation was approved by Albania’s Council of Ministers in December last year. It has now been reviewed by Albania’s Commission on European Integration, which announced that it meets EU requirements. According to Albanian officials, the legislation, which has been in the pipeline for a while, seeks to address shortcomings in the bureaucratic system so as to streamline documentation for various foreign individuals. Examples given are
“residence permits of persons without citizenship; residence permits for pensioners; residence permits for travelling employees, i.e. those foreign nationals working in different countries, not in an office or in an institution headquarters and whose work mostly involves travelling; and permits for those who use real estate owned by them in the Republic of Albania”.
The first Iranians to benefit from the new law are those who have rejected membership of the MEK but who, without proper documentation, have struggled to establish themselves in society. Journalist Gjergji Thanasi, who has followed the plight of these former MEK members for the past four years, explained the changes:
“previously there was a problem with getting various permits from different departments – residence, work, travel, etc. Now, foreigners will be issued with a single permit, a White Card, which gives them all the rights of Albanian citizenship, except the right to vote. After a while, they will be issued a Green Card which will entitle them to full citizenship rights.”
For the former MEK members, this has been a welcome development. Hassan Heyrani said:
“I have been managing a coffee shop to make a living. But I can now incorporate my own business and buy property. This will make a huge difference in all our lives. The White Card will even allow us to arrange family reunions”.
The former members have applied for the single permit and have received registration numbers pending the issue of the White Cards in a month or two.
The new law also applies to the MEK members in Camp Ashraf 3 in Durres county. MEK leader Maryam Rajavi has already been reported to be working to hide this law from the members, and to take steps to mitigate its effects. Members are being asked to sign papers waiving any rights to independent life. They must swear an oath to identify as a member of the MEK cult rather than an individual with individual rights. The problem for Rajavi is that although she has already denied the members every one of the rights and freedoms contained in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the principles set out by Article 30 in this document is that nobody can give away or waive their own rights and freedoms.
Heyrani anticipates this could be the end of the MEK as a cult.
“Once the members become aware that they can leave the organisation and enjoy the rights and benefits of Albanian citizenship, Rajavi’s hold over them will be broken”, he said. This author reminds readers that when the MEK were in Iraq, the members were also undocumented: “Members used organisational names rather than their own, to ‘lose their individuality’. Those who needed to travel used fake passports, or passports belonging to other members and supporters. The members were told that this was for security purposes since the Iranian government were spying on them. The real reason was to prevent members having valid documentation. Members were reminded that if they tried to leave the organisation, the punishment under Saddam Hussein for anyone without identity papers or a passport was an automatic 8 prison sentence as an illegal immigrant. That meant, most members would not dare leave. Several who leave did were imprisoned in Abu Ghraib prison under this law.”
In Albania, Maryam Rajavi has benefitted from the notorious corruption in the country, from government down. She has benefitted from the tacit support of the CIA. This has allowed her to hold the members as undocumented slaves, totally dependent on the organisation for all their basic needs. People who managed to leave the cult have often struggled for some time to survive without the necessary documents that would allow them to work. In a matter of weeks, this situation will end. All the Iranians who came to Albania in 2016 will be able to register for the new documentation which will facilitate their break with the Rajavi cult and enable them to live freely and healthily in society.
A summary of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 1: We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas and we should all be treated the same way.
Article 2: The rights in the UDHR belong to everyone, no matter who we are, where we’re from, or whatever we believe.
Article 3: We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.
Article 4: No one should be held as a slave, and no one has the right to treat anyone else as their slave.
Article 5: No one has the right to inflict torture, or to subject anyone else to cruel or inhuman treatment.
Article 6: We should all have the same level of legal protection whoever we are, and wherever in the world we are.
Article 7: The law is the same for everyone, and must treat us all equally.
Article 8: We should all have the right to legal support if we are treated unfairly.
Article 9: Nobody should be arrested, put in prison, or sent away from our country unless there is good reason to do so.
Article 10: Everyone accused of a crime has the right to a fair and public trial, and those that try us should be independent and not influenced by others.
Article 11: Everyone accused of a crime has the right to be considered innocent until they have fairly been proven to be guilty.
Article 12: Nobody has the right to enter our home, open our mail, or intrude on our families without good reason. We also have the right to be protected if someone tries to unfairly damage our reputation.
Article 13: We all have the right to move freely within our country, and to visit and leave other countries when we wish.
Article 14: If we are at risk of harm we have the right to go to another country to seek protection.
Article 15: We all have the right to be a citizen of a country and nobody should prevent us, without good reason, from being a citizen of another country if we wish.
Article 16: We should have the right to marry and have a family as soon as we’re legally old enough. Our ethnicity, nationality and religion should not stop us from being able to do this. Men and women have the same rights when they are married and also when they’re separated. We should never be forced to marry. The government has a responsibility to protect us and our family.
Article 17: Everyone has the right to own property, and no one has the right to take this away from us without a fair reason.
Article 18: Everyone has the freedom to think or believe what they want, including the right to religious belief. We have the right to change our beliefs or religion at any time, and the right to publicly or privately practise our chosen religion, alone or with others.
Article 19: Everyone has the right to their own opinions, and to be able to express them freely. We should have the right to share our ideas with who we want, and in whichever way we choose.
Article 20: We should all have the right to form groups and organise peaceful meetings. Nobody should be forced to belong to a group if they don’t want to.
Article 21: We all have the right to take part in our country’s political affairs either by freely choosing politicians to represent us, or by belonging to the government ourselves. Governments should be voted for by the public on a regular basis, and every person’s individual vote should be secret. Every individual vote should be worth the same.
Article 22: The society we live in should help every person develop to their best ability through access to work, involvement in cultural activity, and the right to social welfare. Every person in society should have the freedom to develop their personality with the support of the resources available in that country.
Article 23: We all have the right to employment, to be free to choose our work, and to be paid a fair salary that allows us to live and support our family. Everyone who does the same work should have the right to equal pay, without discrimination. We have the right to come together and form trade union groups to defend our interests as workers.
Article 24: Everyone has the right to rest and leisure time. There should be limits on working hours, and people should be able to take holidays with pay.
Article 25: We all have the right to enough food, clothing, housing and healthcare for ourselves and our families. We should have access to support if we are out of work, ill, elderly, disabled, widowed, or can’t earn a living for reasons outside of our control. An expectant mother and her baby should both receive extra care and support. All children should have the same rights when they are born.
Article 26: Everyone has the right to education. Primary schooling should be free. We should all be able to continue our studies as far as we wish. At school we should be helped to develop our talents, and be taught an understanding and respect for everyone’s human rights. We should also be taught to get on with others whatever their ethnicity, religion, or country they come from. Our parents have the right to choose what kind of school we go to.
Article 27: We all have the right to get involved in our community’s arts, music, literature and sciences, and the benefits they bring. If we are an artist, a musician, a writer or a scientist, our works should be protected and we should be able to benefit from them.
Article 28: We all have the right to live in a peaceful and orderly society so that these rights and freedoms can be protected, and these rights can be enjoyed in all other countries around the world.
Article 29: We have duties to the community we live in that should allow us to develop as fully as possible. The law should guarantee human rights and should allow everyone to enjoy the same mutual respect.
Article 30: No government, group or individual should act in a way that would destroy the rights and freedoms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Documentation Frees MEK Members
Iranians living in Albania ( ASILA )
MEK cult in Albania poses public health risk
Massoud Khodabandeh, Responsible Statecraft (First Published April 25 2020) :… The Albanian authorities, including the security services, do not have access to the camp. According to investigative journalist Gjergji Thanasi, who lives in Durres county near the MEK camp, the Health Ministry “deals with Camp Ashraf 3 as if it does not exist. There is not a single line in the Durres Municipality health officials’ paperwork written about the camp and its residents. No Albanian health official has ever entered the camp.” This means that no matter how hard epidemiologists may be working to trace the contacts of positive cases throughout the country, the MEK will not submit to allow Health Ministry staff inside the camp to test the individuals there. Thanasi goes on to explain, “the MEK have their own doctors, nurses, and dentists. When they have seriously ill patients, they hire private ambulances to transport them to a public hospital in Tirana.” MEK cult in Albania poses public health risk
MEK cult in Albania poses public health risk
With its small population of 2.8 million people, the Republic of Albania may appear to have a more manageable task (depending, of course, on the availability of health care resources) of testing and tracking contacts to halt the spread of the coronavirus, than countries with multiple millions of citizens living in large, sprawling cities and conurbations. But as Albania extends its lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the country faces a specific problem that some other countries also face — notably South Korea — the presence of a closed and secretive cult in the midst of the population.
Since its arrival in Albania in 2016, the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), also known as the Rajavi cult after its leaders Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, the group has caused problems for the authorities and citizens of their host country. Exploiting the unresolved problems of crime, corruption, and a weak state dependent on American approval, the MEK has manipulated, bribed, and intimidated its way into the political, media, and criminal elements of Alabania. According to well-known historian Olsi Jazexhi, the MEK has even perverted Albania’s foreign policy making it a hub for anti-Iran activities and creating a security nightmare for Albania’s police and security services.
Now the group poses another risk to the country — a public health risk that cannot be assessed or managed.
In 2017, both tacit support from the Trump administration, and overt support from neoconservative personalities, enabled MEK leaders to evade a planned de-radicalization program and instead build a closed secure camp in Manez — a remote town in the county of Durres — to house up to 2,000 cult members. Camp Ashraf 3 — as it is known — is guarded by private armed security personnel as well as MEK officials; only invited persons are allowed entry. Before this mass incarceration, dozens of members took advantage of the move to Albania to separate from the group. They reported terrible human rights abuses and conditions of modern slavery in the MEK. Journalists were refused entry to the camp to interview members locked up there.
For the majority of MEK members then, a lockdown may seem irrelevant since they were already in forced isolation from the outside world, but for Albania, the existence of the group in the country poses a real dilemma.
Although most cult members will not emerge in public, the group relies on regular supplies from outside, particularly food and medicine, and those who emerge to procure these supplies are part of a greater chain of contacts that stretch all the way to Italy. Not only are MEK members who move around Albania unaccountable and untraced, the MEK is notorious for trafficking its own members past national borders.
The MEK’s leading members made frequent trips to Italy in the early months of this year, exposing them to COVID-19. In this respect, it is important to acknowledge that the MEK members are not all based in the closed camp. Last year, MEK leader Maryam Rajavi was forced to leave her base in France and set up her new headquarters in Albania. Many leading members live in the capital Tirana and occupy a variety of premises — from business offices to an entire floor of the International Hotel in Skanderbeg Square in Tirana. Where are those people now? What contact did they have between Italy and the residents of Camp Ashraf 3? Durres county is the epicenter of the current coronavirus epidemic in Albania. Have MEK members inside been infected?
We don’t know and we may never know. The Albanian authorities, including the security services, do not have access to the camp. According to investigative journalist Gjergji Thanasi, who lives in Durres county near the MEK camp, the Health Ministry “deals with Camp Ashraf 3 as if it does not exist. There is not a single line in the Durres Municipality health officials’ paperwork written about the camp and its residents. No Albanian health official has ever entered the camp.”
This means that no matter how hard epidemiologists may be working to trace the contacts of positive cases throughout the country, the MEK will not submit to allow Health Ministry staff inside the camp to test the individuals there. Thanasi goes on to explain, “the MEK have their own doctors, nurses, and dentists. When they have seriously ill patients, they hire private ambulances to transport them to a public hospital in Tirana.”
What is deeply concerning in this crisis, however, are the messages emerging from the camp and covertly passed to those who are concerned with their welfare. Over a thousand families of these disappeared MEK members, who have been trying for two decades to gain contact with their loved ones, say these messages are alarming. They say that the MEK leaders have blocked every form of access to medical care and hospital visits have been cancelled. They also report that some people have gone missing and nobody knows where they are. Everyone inside the camp is worried about the virus and that they are getting no help. They say there is a general sense of dread about the spread of COVID-19.
According to Thanasi, employees of Durres Municipality who engaged in disinfecting streets, squares, flea markets, and agriculture produce markets had contacted the MEK camp via the local Manez council officials offering to disinfect the camp. “We were thanked profusely before our offer was very politely turned down. The commanders at the camp insisted they had already thoroughly disinfected the camp”, Thanasi was told. The Municipal workers however added there was “no evidence this had been done.”
Outside the camp, local residents have observed the MEK’s efforts to deal with the crisis. Speaking to Thanasi, one resident said, at the camp entrance, Albanian armed security guards and MEK members have been observed wearing masks and gloves, “but those on duty at a second gate do not always use protective gear.”
It appears that in public, MEK personnel will wear the masks and gloves, but a group of MEK members who work in a small facility outside the camp fence opposite the main entrance generally do not wear protection. It could be that a shortage of PPE means the MEK has to adopt a public relations exercise to be seen to observe distancing, isolation and protective measures. More cynically, the patchy distribution of protective gear could be linked to a hierarchy of privilege.
Without official oversight, it is not known how many MEK members will contract the virus and how many will die as a result. What is known is that since arriving in Albania, dozens of MEK members have died — reportedly from old age and illness — yet their reported cause of death cannot be relied upon.
MEK leaders mostly refuse post-mortem examinations. The MEK leaders are just as unlikely to report incidences of COVID-19 infections and deaths. MEK members are especially susceptible to the ravages of this virus. Their average age is around 65, with some members in their seventies and eighties. Many members have underlying health issues, and weakness brought on by the decades of overwork and harsh living conditions endured in Iraq. Rajavi herself is so frightened of succumbing to the virus that back in March she had one of her parliamentary lobbyists raise the possibility of travelling to the UK where even as a visitor she could access world class medical facilities.
Clearly, even if the MEK does eventually allow sick members to be tested and gain access medical care, Albania is barely equipped to deal with a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus among the indigenous population. If this troublesome group consumes badly needed resources, the finger of blame will surely go to Albania’s corrupt politicians who allow this group to flout the country’s laws and national interests and pursue its own agenda. That finger of blame must as well point directly at the Trump administration too. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is happy to use MEK propaganda churned out by the troll farm in Camp Ashraf 3 by enslaved members to attack Iran and justify the continuation of extreme sanctions. What responsibility will he take for the health and wellbeing of these people and the people of Albania.
MEK cult in Albania poses public health risk
Iranians living in Albania ( ASILA )