10. Mojahedine Khalgh Organization (MKO)
This is what I wrote in 1994 following the Mashhad tragedy. When a friend's relative dies of old age and you attend the services, you say condolences, but what can you say to people who have lost a loved one in the Mashhad tragedy of bombing Imam Reza Shrine in 1994 killing the pilgrims? I once was in this kind of situation. The sister of a friend of mine with her three kids died in a very similar tragedy. I was speechless. I did not know what to say. After thinking it over, the following were my thoughts.
I think what killed those innocent people is an attitude which is present in some supporters of all religious and political groups. You could be the supporter of one of the most dictatorial and fascistic groups or governments, and still not have the attitude I am referring to. You can be the supporter of the most democratic organization, but have that attitude. I believe, this attitude, is the killer of the innocent, and it is responsible for many other similar atrocities all over the world. What is this attitude?
It is the attitude of believing that *end justifies the means*. Let me give an example. I have known individuals who were devout supporters of IRI, or devout communists, or devout monarchists, or devout MKO supporters, or devout liberals, but they were very good individuals. They had some personal standards which they observed. Call it the Ten Commandments of Moses. Call it simply being good.
I think we all have a feel for what it means, because we all have experienced the moments that we have known an ideology or group which we hated, but at the same time we have acknowledged some so-and-so individual in that camp as a real good person. Once I saw a devout Muslim who knew such an individual who was an atheist, and that Muslim would call that atheist, as a "real-Muslim-who-is-not-aware-of-what-he-is". So we all know such feelings.
In contrast, I have seen supporters of the same groups or schools of thought, who would lie or hurt or do anything to achieve their *end*. In other words to achieve what they want, they do not mind how they would get it. So it can be lying, it can be killing the innocent people, it can be torture, it can be anything that can get them one step closer to their goal. I think this attitude is what kills people and any cult or group or party advocating such attitude of *end justifying means* is responsible for such atrocities.
If an individual has some criteria in life that would consider such acts personally abhorrent, no matter what any group, creed, ideology, religion, party, or government says, such an individual will never commit such crimes against humanity. But on the contrary the individual who thinks end justifies the means can commit any atrocity in the name of freedom, peace, religion, love, country, and you name it there is abundance of such causes one could pick up in the attAri's (grocery box) of all schools of thought.
The ones who I call good people, would feel more hurt, if they see the group or school of thought they feel close to, is committing torture, murder of dissidents, or a crime like this massacre. They have a reference point in themselves, that does not allow them to commit such acts, and they feel hurt in their heart, when they see that there are still people in the world, who call themselves humans, and still believe in *end justifying the means*.
The rise of MojAhedine Khalgh Organization (MKO/MEK/PMOI) started with the fall of Shah's regime. Previous to the fall of the Shah's regime, Iranians thought of MKO as an armed extension of Nehzat-e Azadi liberal-Islamic organization, from which the founders of MKO had come from. Also the Iranian democratic movement thought of MKO as intellectually naive, because of its mixing of Marxism and Islamism. Those inside MKO who sincerely saw their views to be Marxist-Leninist, soon left the MKO, as they saw they were living a lie.
The killing of Sharif-Vaghefi by Taghi Shahram of one of the Marxist-Leninist factions, who had split from the MKO organization, helped MKO to justify itself as an innocent victim, and for a long time, various groups of Iranian left were in unison in their support of MKO as a democratic group, although they all fought among themselves.
Only the moving of MKO to Iraq, caused many of these radical individuals and groups to part with MKO. So they never really took a position as to what was wrong with MKO and they just separated their way from MKO because of MKO's collaboration with Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, a brutal Iraqi regime which had invaded Iran.
The reality is that MKO was never a Marxist-Islamic group, the way Shah's advisors called MKO. At the time of founding of MKO, most of the progressive movements in the world used Marxist theories to analyze their struggle and using such theories did not really define the nature of such groups.
Even Seyed Qotb of Egypt who was a prominent Islamic fundamentalist, used Marx's theories extensively in his works . This has nothing to do with the real thought structure of MKO. MKO was really not a Communist group in Iran even from the beginning. There were many groups such as hezbe toodeh or sAzmAne enghelAbi or chrikhAye fadAyii which were really Communist groups, siding with Soviets, Chinese, or Cuban Communists. But MKO was not like any of them.
MKO was from the beginning similar to a Nazi-Islamic opposition to the regime. They wanted to revive the glory of Iran's Shiism using the latest achievements of the radical theory and movement. Their formation was a lot more similar to the formation of the Syria's Baath Party and Germany's Nazi Party than being similar to any Communist or Islamic organization.
The Islamic fundamentalists separated their way from MKO. Even some factions of MKO such as Meysami's faction, which were not much different from the rest of MKO, and in their ideologies were similar to Syrian and Iraqi Baath Parties, separated from MKO and joined the fundamentalist Islam of Khomeini. But this did not change the fact that the MKO tradition has basically been a Nazi-Baathi tradition separate from a fundamentalist Islamic tradition.
I think in one respect, Iranians were lucky that MKO was not able to come to power, and thanks to their collaboration with Iraq, got isolated on a nationalist basis by Iranian people. But on the other hand because of staying as opposition for a long time, many people think of them as a democratic-modern opposition, which they are *not*.
MKO is not anything different from Nazis and Baath parties, before those parties came to power. Only those parties came to power in Germany, Syria, and Iraq, whereas MKO lost to the Islamic Fundamentalists.
I think the wrong analysis of MKO has been the main reason that the Iranian democratic and progressive movement has not been able to properly deal with it. MKO is a real fascist Nazi-Baathi-Islamist type party. I am not writing this as an insult. This is the ideology of MKO, and for over thirty years, the progressive movement of Iran, has had an incorrect appraisal of this organization.
I have explained before that MKO is a block to the development of the Iranian democratic movement and should be dissolved. Although many who have joined this fascist cult, have done it to fight the IRI, but they have been brainwashed feeling that leaving MKO means helping the Islamic Republic and betraying their democratic ideals.
The dissolution of MKO (Mojahedine Khalgh Organization) is the best for the growth of the democratic and progressive movement in Iran. It is wrong to appease MKO. Any democratic organization and individual thinking to appease MKO, to find an ally for democracy and progress in Iran, are wrong, the same way Banisadr was wrong to have such hopes in MKO.
The appeasement of MKO is just like the appeasement of Hitler by Chamberlain. The Iranian progressive movement should wake up from decades of wrong analysis of MKO.
This is how one can understand why MKO went to Iraq. They did not go there by mistake. They saw the Baath Party system as their model and they did not feel bad about living in the Baathist Iraq. True that the Syrian and Iraqi Baath Parties have had contradictions, and one can expect the same conflicts between MKO and Iraqi or Syrian Baath Parties.
Let's remember that the Communist countries and parties had conflicts within themselves, but basically they all shared the same path. There is not much of a difference between the Baathist type ideologies, and the ideal system they want for Syria, Iraq, and Iran is similar. MKO has a Nazi ideology inspired by radical Shi'a movements of the past.
The Nazis also were inspired by the past liberation movements in the history of Germany. This is how one can understand the indoctrinations of the MKO cult, and the way their female members all "accidentally" happen to like to wear scarves on their "own". This is the result of the brainwash to change their reality, like EST and other similar cults do to their members. Nonetheless, we are not dealing with something like EST.
MKO is not just some naive people joining a harmless personal adventure. It is a Nazi-type armed organization. Their terrorism is part of their ideology. Iranian people were lucky that we avoided the Khmer Rouge of the Communist alternative, and we have been lucky to have avoided the Baathist path of Iraq and Syria, which was being pursued by MKO.
If MKO had succeeded in 1981, they would have been the Khmer Rouge of Iran. Giving sacrifices does not make them right, the same way that Nazis in Germany, and Khmer Rouge in Cambodia gave many sacrifices before coming to power.
The Iranian progressive and democratic forces should take a strong position on MKO fascism and should call for dissolution and complete liquidation of this organization. This organization can become the next Baath Party of the Middle East, if they come to power, and appeasing MKO is like appeasing Hitler's fascism by the Western democracies, before Nazis took over power in Germany.
The appeasement of MKO should be avoided at all cost. Their appeasement will not help the cause of freedom, democracy and progress in Iran, the same way appeasing Hitler did not rescue the West from Stalinism, and allowed Hitler to destroy the Western democracy. MKO coming to power can push back democracy and modernism for Iran and Iranians for another 20 years.
It is time to ask international human rights organizations including UN to investigate violations of human rights by MKO. The charges of human rights by MKO leaders have been raised by former MKO and NCRI members and others. There are numerous reports from reliable sources about imprisonment and torture of former members which should not be ignored.
Human Rights organizations need to ask the U.S. to give HR groups access to that organization in Iraq, to determine the issues of imprisonment and death of dissidents by MKO in Saddam's Abu Ghoreysh and other jails, reported by former MKO members.
For years, every time anybody opposed MKO politics or ideology, MKO tried to damage the critics' reputation (heysiat) by harassment and intimidation and calling the opponents as IRI Information Ministry agents, to shut up the critics, always end justifying the means. Iranians are tired of replacing one regime with another, and still seeing violations of human rights stay intact. MKO has been using the excuse of fighting IRI, to justify the anti-human rights practices of that organization.
I have witnessed the dishonesty, intimidation and harassment of dissidents by MKO members and sympathizers, and their training which is based on "end justifying the means", the same mentality that allowed Nazi functionaries to feel fine to follow the orders to burn people in concentration camps, without feeling guilty.
MKO operatives have played with reputation (heysiat) of even the former NCRI leaders like Mehdi Khanbaba Tehrani and Hedayatollah Matin Daftari, calling them IRI Information Ministry agents, when those people had political differences with MKO and left NCRI.
I have seen this mentality of MKO on various Internet forums, which has been directed by their organization and not condemned, and if they get control over post-IRI Iran, we cannot expect anything different. This may seem like a minor thing, but it shows the mentality that is taught in the brainwash of this cult, which ends up to justify the murder of those who leave the organization as being a fine revenge.
Every free thinking Iranian should be free to express their opinion and Iranian people are *not* the sympathizers of this group or any other group, for these groups to decide how people should think, and the right of dissent is one of the most important basic rights of members in any political and ideological organization and people should not feel the life of them and their family is endangered if they decide to leave an organization.
Members or sympathizers of any groups should be able to have their freedom of thought and freedom to dissent from any organization they join. The violations of human rights by any political and religious group must be reviewed by international human rights organizations, before these groups come to power, or else we can end up with another dictatorial force in power in Iran.
HR violations have not been an issue of just IRI. HR violation were the reason Iranian people made a revolution against the Shah, and we should make sure not to end up with such dictatorial regimes again in post-IRI regime in Iran.
If any opposition group be allowed to suppress freedom of thought and expression, it is not far-fetched to say that in the post-IRI regime, we will again end up with the same despotism and violations of human rights in Iran, for which we have dedicated time, energy, and sacrifices all these years.
Any force that harasses opponents by calling them IRI Information Ministry, is doing the same thing IRI did, when IRI justified its violations of human rights, on the basis of Islamists' martyrs in the anti-Shah's uprising and in anti-Iraq war. Times have long passed for any Iranian organization to intimidate and curtail freedom of speech on the basis of political considerations.
In 1994, I wrote an article about Stoning in IRI and condemned the violations of human rights in Islamic Republic of Iran, and since then there are hardly anybody questioning the value of human rights monitoring of IRI. It is time to do the same about MKO and monarchist that are violating human rights, and any relations with any of these groups must be based on human rights conditions.
Any political group condoning the actions of MKO, because of political considerations, or blocking HR monitoring of MKO, shows its own disregard for human rights principles for future Iran.
As I wrote in What about MojAhedin-e Khalgh, I need to emphasize that there are people in MKO who have joined that organization, not to work for Saddam, but to fight the atrocities of IRI, and their human rights should be defended, and they would be the real beneficiaries of HR monitoring of MKO.
I have been harassed and intimidated by IRI for calling for HR monitoring of IRI, and I am being harassed and intimidated by MKO when I ask for MKO monitoring. I do not care for all these threats.
Human rights and freedom of thought and expression are so important to Iranian people, that even if they can shut me up, there will be others to make the same call to the international HR organizations to examine violations of human rights by MKO.
What IRI and MKO need to know is that times have long passed when Iranians would keep silent and forgo their human rights and freedom of expression, because of these forces enumerating martyrs. IRI has done enough of that to justify its violations of human rights for over two decades.
The martyrs are a better proof why we need freedom of expression and human rights, rather than replacing one dictatorship with another, and again ending up struggling for our human rights giving more martyrs. Our goal is not to give more martyrs. Our goal is to achieve human rights in Iran.
The human rights are a principle, period. Any state or organization in Iran of the future, should abide by the HR principles, and nobody should push such issues under the rug, because of their political alliances.
We do not need the repetition of what some Kurdish groups did in 1980, when they won power in Kurdistan, and they also suppressed human rights and freedom of expression, and killed people in their so-called people's courts, with no defense attorney and no proper courts, and instead used the hang him screams of agitated masses as justice.
And they attacked anyone who spoke against those practices, intimidating and calling the critics as jAsh (meaning regime's agent) and sent detectives to see what they would say to others, rather than upholding the principles of human rights rather than dropping them with excuses of exigencies of the moment, the way Lenin justified the murder of Tsar's family.
We do not need to see any errors like that by Iranian democratic opposition. Martyrs and fighting a past regime, gives no right to any organization to suppress people's human rights and freedom of speech. Or else when these groups come to power, we will end up with the same dictatorship, but with a new organization in charge.
Using tears for martyrs to justify curtailing of the human rights, with buts and ifs, is wrong, and IRI has done enough of using tears of victims of past atrocities to commit new atrocities and violate the human rights of new victims, for over two decades.
The self immolations of MKOcultists in France, further showed the atrocities of MKO leadership, who sacrificed their own members in such terrible ways, to help their leaders, when there was no threat even to their leaders, when summoned to court in a democratic country like France, and they waited long before telling members to stop self-immolation.
It is true that most people who have joined this cult, did not do it out of their love for Saddam Hussein, with whom MKO cooperated for years. In fact, those who joined MEK did it because they wanted to fight the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been oppressing Iranian people for 24 years.
Therefore I concur with some analysts who care for the MKO membership to protect them against IRI attacks. The members of this cult should not be punished for their genuine intentions, that had been the rightful aspirations of all Iranians to oppose Islamic Republic of Iran, and they should be protected by the U.S. army from IRI attacks.
Protection is different from giving arms, while MKO structure and leadership is still intact. Actually all the records of cooperation of MKO and Saddam all these years, should be published by the U.S. and especially the records of MKO using Saddam's prisons to torture and kill dissidents.
And the leadership of MKO (also referred to as MEK and PMOI) must be tried in courts of crimes against humanity for the atrocities they have committed against the dissidents of that organization.
The MKO former members who have spoken in many interviews are credible, and their allegations about MKO leadership should be reviewed, in a court of crimes against humanity, and those in MKO leadership responsible for those atrocities must be brought to justice.
I think the former MKO members should be included in human rights teams visiting MKO camps; and the new Iraqi government should allow the HR organizations to visit those camps in Iraq, to investigate the allegations of human rights violations.
As long as the people in the leadership of MKO, who have been involved in the human rights violations, are running that organization, it is wrong for any state or organization to cooperate with MKO, without seriously taking these issues of human rights violations into consideration.
Let me repeat that there are people in MKO who have joined that organization, not to work for Saddam, but to fight the atrocities of IRI, and their human rights should be defended, and those would be the real beneficiaries of HR monitoring of MKO.
And I am sure there are reformers inside MEK, even at the leadership level, who care to end the anti-HR practices and MKO attacks on IRI opposition, and those individuals should likewise be helped by international HR organizations, in their own struggle against the dictatorial and cultish practices of MKO.
In short, any cooperation with MKO should be based on human rights conditions and those in MKO who are responsible for the violations of human rights of dissidents, and harassment of Iranian opposition, must be tried for their atrocities in an open court of crimes against humanity.
Finally it is wrong to return MKO members or leaders to IRI. IRI is the reason for all that is happening with MKO. If MKO was free to express its thought in Iran, I doubt it even if they could attract 500 people, and they would have melted down two decades ago.
The reason people have joined MKO is because of the promise of this cult to replace IRI. And IRI with all its murders of dissidents and opposition, is the last to have any right to sit in judgment of MKO members and leaders.
The MKO leaders should be tried in courts of crimes against humanity, and trading them with IRI, will only make them martyrs and heroes, and this fascist cult will continue to be, although in secret. The best way to deal with MKO is to bring out the violation of human rights into open in an open fair court like the Nuremberg.
References Chapter 10