Analysis and background on the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran
CHAPTER 22/Deconstructing the Couple
“Family, I hate you”. This citation from André Gide, the French author and 1947 Nobel Laureate can be described, with no exaggeration at all, as Massoud Rajavi’s motto. After all, the People’s Mojahedin sacrified everything for their revolution.
In order for the individual to give himself up body and soul to the cause, the PMOI intervened directly in its militants’ daily lives. This was to enforce the arbitrary decisions of the ‘Great Teacher’.
As Figaro reported:
“Founded on the cult of its spiritual leader, Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam, the Mojahedin organisation has often been compared to a sect by former members, forced to divorce and break with their family to join the ranks of fighters”. (213)
Mitra Yusufi, a long term member of the PMOI, and a victim of this policy of enforced divorce, breaks the silence:
“I traveled a long road. I underwent a real brainwashing and I have to be alert all the time.
The Iranian people detest Rajavi and I hate him. My story is simple. I was a young newlywed when it all started. My husband was a popular man; since he had played for the Iranian National Football team. This was the team that qualified for the World Championship in 1978 and played in Argentina. We were living in England when the revolution happened.
We returned to Iran before going to the United States. In the Eighties, we had heard bad news about things that happened to our friends. In fact, at the time, we were very cut off from the realities of Iranian society. Rajavi wanted to use my husband’s name. We agreed and we were moved to Greece to organise the movement.
When Rajavi, after his divorce from Bani Sadr’s daughter married his comrade’s wife, Maryam, we were shocked. My husband then took a strong position, saying that you cannot take another’s wife. Two days later, though, they convinced us of the opposite. We were such fools...”. (214)
Nadere Afshari also lived inside the Mojahedin. She knows the reality:
“Rajavi used the family institution as an instrument at the service of his own power. To keep the men in the organisation, he forced them to marry. To do this, he used women as bait and ‘gave’ them to his most docile servants. Yet, at the slightest sign of disobedience, he took away their wives. Women were, therefore, objects passed from hand to hand.
Thus, a docile woman like Atefeh, who had the rank of Major, was forced to divorce four times, on the personal orders of Rajavi. Her comrade, Mahboubeh Jamshidi, divorced and remarried at least three times.
Rajavi considers the family as an integral cell in his organisation. He, therefore, feels free to intervene in the marital relations of members against their own will. The truth is that he dislikes the family which always posed a problem for his ‘regime’. This was for a very good reason: it is very difficult to keep ‘the light of love for the Leader’ burning bright.
From 1991 on, marriage changed its meaning. It became a barrier which kept the organisation’s members from loving their Leader”. (215)
A third defector states:
“At this time, Rajavi also imposed on the leadership a fixed ceremony at the beginning of meetings: everyone had to place his hands on the table to make sure that no one was wearing a wedding ring, which he called ‘a slave ring’.” (216)
Deconstructing the Family
Of course, the PMOI defended itself. The impact of these statements on its internal practises on international public opinion created a very negative impression. The National Resistance Council wrote, in its response to the American accusations:
“Further on, they claim that the Mojahedin had forced couples in Iraq to divorce and send their children to Europe and the United States. Here, it must be taken into account that the individuals who wrote this report were repeating, word for word, the allegations used by the mullahs and by the survivors of the Shah regime.
The National Liberation Army of Iran is based in the territory of a country where family Ijfe in the camps became impossible during the unprecedented bombardments of the Gulf War and thereafter, because of the international embargo.
During the bombings, families, voluntarily and sometimes in writing, asked the organisation for assistance in sending their children to Europe and the United States to live with their parents or our supporters. Despite many obstacles and risks, the movement spent millions of dollars to move these children to safe places. The alternative would have been accepting the possibility of numerous victims among them “. (217)
The facts, however, are stubborn and the eyewitness reports are very precise:
‘in the terms of the ‘Second Ideological Revolution’, children had to be separated from their families and sent abroad. Rajavi made sure personally that this order was carried out case by case, finding militants or family members living in Europe or the United States who could take the children in.
In the absence of family abroad, the children were sent to orphanages or special schools established by the Mojahedin in Germany and the Netherlands. More than 500 children were sent abroad this way: they were handed over to the organisation during a special ceremony in which the parents recited a text affirming: ‘I give my child to Massoud and Maryam’.” (218)
Yet the PMOE justified itself by comparison with others:
“Moreover, this policy is not without precedent. During the Second World War, children were separated from their families and sent outside London during the bombings. If this way of doing things is unacceptable, the State Department should have published a declaration criticising Winston Churchill “. (219)
The People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran could have cited two other 20Ih Century precedents, ones more troubling indeed.
During 1936-37, the evacuation of the children of Spanish Republicans fighting Franco’s Nationalists is one. To protect them from the bombings which struck some cities very hard, especially Madrid, young girls and boys were sent by convoy to the Soviet Union. But once the Popular Front Government was swept aside and taken over by the Communists, these kids stayed in the USSR for an orthodox Marxist-Leninist education.
The same scenario took place a few years later in Greece, during the civil war that immediately followed World War ii. There again, children kidnapped for the stated motive of putting them out of harm’s way remained in the USSR.
Kidnapping could also take place at home. The Hitler youth stole the minds and loyalties of children, turning them against their teachers and even their parents. The “Racially pure” S.S. breeding facilities were only a continuation of kidnap, but with the result of bringing thousands of parentless children into post-war Germany.
Uprooted, far from their country and cut off from their culture, these children became wanderers without identity. They only had that given them by the movement or the organisation which took them in hand and led them where they wanted to for their own purposes.
For more than 20 years we know exactly how the PMOI has used these kids: easier to lead, because they are more docile than adults who have developed their critical faculties. This included abandoning them to their fate when times went bad:
“In Evin, the model prison of Iran, built by the ex-Shah, one section is completely devoted to the ‘curables’, who undergo a reeducation programme. There, we find a certain number of inmates who discarded their former masters, like Bani Sadr’s ex-body guard. But the overwhelming majority are children. They are the ones the Mojahedin threw into the street fighting, without any military or political training at all. These kids (13-15 year olds) cracked, naturally. They turned against themselves”. (220)
Education and Propaganda
The People’s Mojahedin like to advertise the high level of education of their members. They pretend that women and men bedecked with diplomas, because of their advanced education, could never be victims of propaganda. There is, however, an axionl that states: “The more an individual has had advanced education, the more impermeable he is to all forms of ‘brainwashing’. This is rather simplistic, because there are many cases in which Intellectuals, scientists, even highly talented artists have easily given in to the totalitarian temptation.
How can one explain that a philosopher of the stature of Martin Heidegger could have joined the Nazi Party in Germany when it came to power in 1933. The author of Being and Time had a rare intellect, which did not keep him from joining in one of the worst regimes to bloody the 20111 Century.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Raymond Aron, in his Opiate of the Intellectuals, described the Communist Party as more of a “sect psychologically than a Universal Church”.
Communist education exists to eliminate all traces of individualism. The cult of the leaders is a symptom of brains having given up their critical faculties.
If not, how can we understand the positions taken by Aragon and Elsa Triolet and all the other French intellectuals who, even when presented with undeniable proof, continued to support Stalin’s Soviet Union?
Closer to our own time, members of the Solar Temple sect that made headlines by their collective suicide had generally been very successful students. Nonetheless, they chose this way to get to the Planet Sirius.
Certain held management posts at the highest levels, notably in Hydroquebec. This did not protect them from being prisoners of their own making in a tragic adventure that ended in death.
Moreover, the disciples of Jacques Vorilhon, aka Rael, a former sports reporter, who are very “officially” preparing Earth for “the return of the extra-terrestrials” include doctors who claim to have cloned at least one human being, even if they have never offered any scientific proof.
Having a graduate degree is not a shelter against an effective religious or political machine.
It is only necessary for a strong personality to imprint the mirage:
“Rajavi considers himself as the centre of the world. He is the representative of God on Earth, a kind of prophet or Imam. He is the hidden Imarn so sacred to Shi’ia Moslems. He feels no need to provide a basis for his authority. He is the source of all legitimacy. People are classified according the distance that separates them from this source. The more they are close and obedient, the more they are considered good and just. It is this egocentrism that inspires Rajavi’s most insane statements”. (221)
A pretended contact with God serves in this case as the best means of muzzling all opposition. That is because the “Elect” get his orders from a higher level. Who, then, would dare question them and risk the charge of blasphemy?
Smashing the Private Sphere
In Iran especially, the family space is private and untouchable. No one has the right to interfere in this circle which is the fundamental basis of human organisation.
In taking control of the family, Rajavi breaks it without a very clear aim in mind. As Vladimir Volkoff describes it with exceptional insight:
“Disinformation and influence can only be practised on the basis of a certain mass of disinformed and influenced people. The individual, the family, professional groups can all be intoxicated, but not disinformed because they naturally secrete antibodies that fight lies because they prefer the truth, and fight madness by their respect for common sense.
On the contrary, once you reach a certain quantity, individuals become a crowd. Intellectually proletarianised (what-ever their educational level), they lose their conservative reflex and their mass loses its bearings — its anchor —, rolling like a ship in a storm from one side to the other. They are now carried by their own mass and weight, ready to submit to the manipulative techniques of reassuring experts”. (222)
And all means are good, as Rajavi says over and over again. In effect, it involves cutting the individual off from his nurturing society and makes him marginal: a “different” kind of person reinforcing the impression of having been left out:
“At one time in my life, I begged for the organisation in Germany and Switzerland. I was very unhappy doing this, because I was forced to lie. Instead of telling people that we were raising money for arms purchases, we told them that the money was for the construction of homes for orphans. This way, we played on the goodwill of Westerners.
The truth was that Rajavi didn’t need the sums raised this way. He was getting enough money from the Arabs and from Saddam Hussein. He sent us out on the streets to dominate us more and to take away any feeling of independence. We had fallen into the trap because we were opposed to the Islamic Republic and wanted to fight it”. (223)
We have seen these people for years in front of supermarkets and shopping centres and in the streets of our cities, collecting signatures and gifts for the ‘oppressed Iranian people’. Not a word was said about the ultimate destination of this money, not a word about their own organisation. Some posters, unending begging for small sums slipped over by an old lady, filled with pity, who understood nothing at all about the cause, except that it seemed just.
Dozens of Europeans had their charity abused. It reached such a point that, in a fair number of cases, the police quietly asked the Mojahedin to leave public places and confiscated their propaganda materials.
This was propaganda which depended on a tempered and blooded war machine.
213.- “Sombre avenir pour les Moudjahidin du peuple”, Delphine
Minoui, Le Figaro, 21 April 2003
214.- Author’s interview, supra.
215.- Nadéré Afshari, op. cit.
216.- Ismail Zayer, op. cit.
217.- “Democracy Betrayed”, op. cit.
218.- Ismail Zayer, op. cit.
219.- “Democracy Betrayed”, op. cit.
220.- Buob and Hoche, op. cit.
221.- Nadéré Afshari, op. cit.
222.- Vladimir Volkoff, op. cit.
223.- Nadéré Afshari, op. cit.
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli called for tougher measures against the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also known as the MEK, PMOI and NCRI) terrorist group by the European Union...