Memorandum from IranInterlink
1.1 Iran Interlink is a small organisation
with a highly specialised remit in relation to the People's Mojahedin
Organisation of Iran (PMOI); the main external opposition to the
Islamic Republic of Iran. (This description of the Mojahedin as
an external opposition has two main meanings. First, the organisation
is mostly based outside Iranin Iraq, Europe and the USA.
Secondly, ideologically they stand outside the Islamic Republic
of Iran, and thus call for the overthrow of the entire ruling
system of Iran. They do not see any hope for reform from within
the Islamic Republic of Iran.) The Mojahedin is listed as a proscribed
organisation in the UK (Terrorism Act 2000).
1.2 Iran-Interlink's specific aims are:
(a) to help relatives make contact with family
members inside the Mojahedin, (the Mojahedin has a policy of not
allowing any contact with family or friends);
(b) to act as a pressure group in exposing
the human rights violations of the Mojahedin, (as an opposition
organisation and in particular as it is based in Iraq, the Mojahedin
has been able for years to act with impunity in its treatment
of dissenting members).
2. Terms of reference
2.1 Iran-Interlink's intention in this document
is to indicate the extent of the unchallenged human rights violations
committed by the PMOI. We do not intend, whether implicitly or
explicitly, to either condemn or condone the actions of the Islamic
Republic of Iran, or indeed of other interested parties in relation
to the PMOI or Iran, and such a meaning should not be assumed
from the information contained in this document.
2.2 Criticism of the Mojahedin is not to
be taken as an endorsement of the actions of the Islamic Republic
3. Human rights abuses of the People's Mojahedin
Organisation of Iran
3.1 Over the past decade there have been
increasing reports by former members of the Mojahedin concerning
human rights abuses and mistreatment within the organisation.
Recent reports most often state that members who criticise the
leadership of the organisation are being severely and systematically
punished. This has now reached a level at which dissenting members
are being sent to Iraqi prisons without trial.
3.2 Unfortunately, the Mojahedin has been
able to act with impunity in this regard since all the alleged
abuses have taken place inside Iraq. Clearly there has been little
or no opportunity for independent investigation of the situation.
Indeed since it is the Iraqi government which should be held responsible
for the activities of any non-governmental organisation under
its jurisdiction, there seems little hope in the short term of
any opportunity to investigate the Mojahedin's activities inside
3.3 In January 2001 a group of 50 Iranian
former Mojahedin members were removed from Abu Ghraib prison in
Baghdad by the Iraqi authorities. They were taken to the Iran-Iraq
border where they were exchanged for a group of Iraqi prisoners
of war released by the Iranian authorities. Since that time, no
information has been forthcoming as to the whereabouts or welfare
of these individuals.
3.4 Iran-Interlink believes that the forthcoming
visit to Iran by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee is the best,
if not the only, opportunity to discover what has happened to
these people. In addition, this would go some way to establishing
the scale of human rights violations carried out by the Mojahedin.
It would establish how the Islamic Republic of Iran deals with
former Mojahedin members. Perhaps most importantly it would establish
whether the reports of further Mojahedin dissidents still being
held in Abu Ghraib prison are likely to be accurate.
4. Statement of Massoud Tayebi
4.1 Massoud Tayebi arrived in Germany in
June 2002 to claim asylum. He had been a member of the Mojahedin
since 1978. At the time he chose to leave he was a Vice President
of the Army Staff Headquarters and member of the Central Council.
Unlike many former members, Tayebi was able to escape from Iraq
without any personal mistreatment by the Mojahedin. Unlike others,
because he arrived in Europe directly from Iraq, the Mojahedin
were not able to accuse him of working for the Iranian Intelligence
Ministry which is a label used against all their most outspoken
4.2 When Tayebi arrived in Europe he issued
a statement outlining his reasons for leaving the Mojahedin. The
main issues he describes as:
4.2.1 The absolute dictatorship of Massoud
Rajavi (leader of the Mojahedin), allowing no rights to others.
4.2.2 Lack of freedom in the Organisation.
4.2.3 Deprivation of the right to choose
and prohibition of members gathering together and holding friendly
debates about their beliefs.
4.2.4 Preventing members from contacting
their family members or relatives.
4.2.5 Inquiry into and scrutiny of individuals'
beliefs and compulsory reporting to the Organisation details of
what is going on in their minds and even their dreams.
4.2.6 An internal trial of more than fifty
members and the Vice President of the Mojahedin Organisation in
the presence of around 2000 people without a jury or defence lawyer.
Massoud Rajavi himself was both prosecutor and judge in this unfair
trial, which was held in the summer of 1380 (2001).
4.2.7 Imprisonment and tortureemotional,
mental and physicalof members who wanted to separate from
the Mojahedin Organisation but whom the organisation doesn't want
to let go.
4.2.8 Damage to the reputation and integrity
of the Mojahedin Organisation due to inaccurate military and political
actions. Worst of all is that the Mojahedin is now recognised
and listed as a world-wide terrorist organisation by the USA,
the United Kingdom and the European Union.
4.2.9 Disagreement with any criticism that
might help them to progress their political and military strategies.
4.2.10 Suppressing criticism of any organisational
member or official of the highest Councils; this is done systematically,
and if anyone disagrees with the organisation's opinion, he/she
will be subjected to severe punishment. These punishments include:
(1) accepting the accusation of disloyalty to the Mojahedin Organisation
in the form of a written confession; (2) in a private internal
Organisational meeting, Massoud Rajavi announced that there are
400 individuals who are the opponents of and want to leave the
Mojahedin Organisation; (3) imprisonment of these individuals
for a minimum of two years, or five years for prominent members
and vice-presidential rank, for members of the army staff, imprisonment
is for over five years.
4.2.11 Forcing individuals to take part
in a televised interview. This is exactly what was done by the
Islamic Republic of Iran in 1360 (1981), when I was a prisoner
of the government of Iran. Since 1381 (2001) up to the present,
this is being done by the Mojahedin.
4.2.12 Returning some of the disassociated
individuals to Iran. That is, individuals who were politically
active against Iran's regime. The Iraqi authorities and prison
guards have undertaken this inhumane action. This is even being
done to people who have European or North American citizenship,
and who joined the Mojahedin and went to Iraq in order to fight
for Iran's freedom.
4.3 Tayebi then goes on to describe the
unfair trials of several individuals which took place in July,
August and September of 2001. Although described as "trials"
there was no legal representation on either side during the whole
4.4 Out of over 50 people, 14 individuals
are named in the report. One of these, Hassan Mashoufi, was accused
in the trial of covertly using a long-distance telephone line.
Mashoufi had used this line to ask his family in Europe to try
to rescue him. He also contacted Amnesty International to ask
for their help.
A full copy of this statement is attached.
5. Internal relations of the Mojahedin and
its impact on Mojahedin activities
5.1 One of the main criticisms of former
members of the Mojahedin concerns the internal structure of the
organisation. It is described as operating an "iron discipline"
over its members to the extent of practicing serious violations
of human rights in attempts to force members to conform, or as
they describe it "submit to Rajavi's leadership". But
the description of "iron discipline" fails to adequately
convey the behaviour of the Mojahedin towards its members. After
all, armies depend upon an iron discipline in order to fight wars.
But former members know that the control exerted over them is
not the same as that of a classic army. Even though most former
members know that they have been in what has been described in
the west as a personality cult, they lack the tools to describe
what this means.
5.2 According to Ian Howarth of the Cult
Information Centre, all cults share the same characteristics.
The definition of any cult is that it indoctrinates its members;
it forms a closed, totalitarian society; it has a self-appointed,
messianic and charismatic leader; it believes that the ends justify
the means; and its wealth does not benefit its members. Howarth
also states that recruits are mostly a certain type of person;
intelligent, idealistic, well educated, economically advantaged
and intellectually or spiritually curious.
5.3 The Mojahedin have all these characteristics,
and it is the use of well-documented psychological mind control
techniques which the former members describe as "iron discipline".
It is a view of their structure which has not been given much
attention until now. The inner world of the Mojahedin, if it is
enquired into at all, is still a mystery to western observers,
and it is a deliberate policy of the Mojahedin to keep it that
way. Because of this, little importance has been attached to this
aspect of their organisation. Yet cult culture is one of the most
dangerous forms of society. Firstly because it robs the members
of their most basic of human rights, even the right to think.
The Mojahedin has conducted forced marriages and later forced
divorces, it has separated children from their parents and had
them fostered by their supporters in various countries. But the
even more disturbing issues which have emerged from the secrecy
of their inner world involve the incarceration of dissidents in
Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and their subsequent transfer to Iran
(as far as the Mojahedin are concerned they were being sent to
almost certain death), and the phoney trials held by Massoud Rajavi
in the Mojahedin's camps.
5.4 Amnesty International in its 2002 Annual
Report, unable to investigate in the Mojahedin's headquarters
and camps in Iraq the hundreds of accusations of human rights
abuses which have reached its desk, resigned itself to stating:
"There were unconfirmed reports that the
People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, an armed political group,
ill-treated its own members at a base in Iraq. The reports were
denied by the organization but it failed to provide substantive
information to allay AI's concerns."
5.5 The second, perhaps more imperative
reason that cult culture presents such a danger is because it
renders its members obedient to the point, as was seen with the
disaster in the World Trade Centre in New York, where they are
capable of the most extreme and unthinkable acts of self-sacrifice.
The governments of the USA and Europe as well as the UK have placed
the Mojahedin on their lists of terrorist organisations with perhaps
a conventionally defined analysis based on the Mojahedin's missile
attacks in Iran which have killed and injured several civilians.
It may also be that because the Mojahedin's armed wing, the National
Liberation Army of Iran is funded, trained and supplied by Saddam
Hussein in Iraq this has been a major consideration. However,
in the view of Iran-Interlink, it is the internal relations of
the Mojahedin and in particular Massoud Rajavi's ruthless ambition
in leadership which presents the ongoing danger associated with
5.6 Labelling the Mojahedin as a cult may
not appear to be significantly more helpful than labelling them
as terrorist in the current political climate and especially in
relation to their activities inside Iran. But Iran-Interlink believes
that it is this aspect of their structure which renders them most
dangerous, not only for their own members and the people of Iran,
but for western communities which may in future be further affected
by their activities. As a cult the Mojahedin obeys only its own
internal dynamic and its own ideological imperatives. As such,
the Mojahedin have placed themselves beyond the sphere of influence
of any country, government or any other international authority
or body (except for Saddam Hussein to whom they are beholden).
If they are to be dealt with at all, it is this aspect which must
be grappled with as much as their military activities. The Mojahedin
is currently in the process of transferring around three hundred
of the top members, including Massoud Rajavi, to Europe. In the
event of a western military action in Iraq, Rajavi plans to send
the remaining Mojahedin members on an all-out military mission
to attack Iran.
In the view of Iran-Interlink, Massoud Rajavi as the mastermind
and owner of all the Mojahedin's activities and aliases, should
be held personally accountable under the Terrorism Act 2000 for
everything the organisation and its aliases do.
5.7 Mojahedin personnel are driven by loyalty
to Rajavi rather than by events in the political scene of Iran
or elsewhere. Their single aim is to remove the whole system called
the Islamic Republic of Iran and establish Rajavi in power in
its place. Obeying their own internal dynamic, the Mojahedin have
consistently denied the very palpable changes to Iran's political
atmosphere following the election of President Khatami. In the
view of Iran-Interlink this wilfully ignores the real force which
is driving the changes inside Iran which is the people of the
5 Statement of Massoud Tayebi http://www.iran-pars.com/english/e-n18.htm Back
"Pending Human Rights Disaster" Iran-Interlink Website