HRW’s Report Severely Flawed

Massoud Khodabandeh/May 25, 2005

The report of Human Rights Watch about human rights abuses by the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization has cited, in one case, Mr. Massoud Banisar as follows:

According to Massoud Banisadr who was the representative of NCRI in Europe and the US until 1996, this Council was practically the political branch of the MKO and its lobby in Europe and the US:

…It was obvious to everyone but ourselves that politically the Mojahedin had failed to create the broad coalition Rajavi had promised….We repeated to each other that the NCR was Rajavi’s means of staying on the political scene in Europe and America and nothing more. Its main use was to deceive the Americans and Europeans against thinking of us as the same Mojahedin responsible for assassinating American citizens in Iran…

About Operation Eternal Light, Rajavi said: We will not be fighting alone; we will have the people on our side. They are tired of this regime, and especially since the ceasefire, they have every incentive to get rid of it forever. We will only have to act as their shields, protecting them from being easy targets for the [revolutionary] guards. Wherever we go there will be masses of citizens joining us, and the prisoners we liberate from jails will help us lead them towards victory. It will be like an avalanche, growing as it progresses. Eventually the avalanche will tear Khomeini’s web apart. You don’t need to take anything with you. We will be like fish swimming in a sea of people. They will give you whatever you need.

About ten years later, when the organization published names and photographs of martyrs from the operation for the first time, the number of martyred was announced as 1,304. Our other losses were officially 1,100 injured, of whom 11 subsequently died.

Operation Forogh [Eternal Light] dashed our political hopes. Worse, it signified the end of ideology, of moral belief and expectation –for me and, as I soon discovered, many others. Our basic values no longer had any meaning and ceased to sustain us. We had all become actors playing to each other, encouraged by each other. This lie reached its intolerable climax when our “ideological leader” failed to admit his predictions and judgment had been wrong…once, we had been told that belief in Mojahedin was based on two premises: the sacrifice they were willing to make and their honesty. After Forogh the well of honesty completely dried up, and from then on the organization rested on only one foundation: “sacrifice” and more “sacrifice.”

The first thing I was required to do in Baghdad was watch a videotape of an ideological meeting for “executive and high-ranking members.” The meeting, called “Imam Zaman,”36 started with a simple question: “To whom do we owe all our achievements and everything that we have?”… Rajavi did not claim, as I thought he might, to be the Imam of our times, but merely said we owed everything to Imam Zaman… The object was to show that we could reach Tehran if we were more united with our leader, as he was with Imam Zaman and God. He was ready to sacrifice everything he had (which in fact meant all of us!) for God, asserting that the only thing on his mind was doing the will of God,….we were expected to draw the conclusion that no “buffer” existed between Rajavi and Imam Zaman; yet there was a buffer between ourselves and him [Rajavi] … which prevented us from seeing him clearly. This “buffer” was our weakness. If we could recognize that, we would see why and how we had failed in Operation Forogh [Eternal Light] and elsewhere. Massoud and Maryam [Rajavi] had no doubt that the buffer was in all our cases our existing spouse…

The atmosphere on the base was completely different….The mood was one of unremitting misery…It seemed everyone was in the process of the new phase of the “ideological revolution.” The only legitimate discussion was about the revolution and the exchange of relevant experiences. Apart from that nothing was important; there was no outside world….Even poor single people were required to divorce their buffers, having no idea whom that meant; apparently the answer was to divorce all women or men for whom they harbored any feelings of love. Only later did I realize the organization demanded not only a legal divorce but also an emotional or “ideological” divorce. I would have to divorce Anna [his wife] in my heart. Indeed I would have to learn to hate her as the buffer standing between our leader and myself.

Rajavi announced at the meeting that as our “ideological leader” he had ordered mass divorce from our spouses. He asked everyone to hand over our rings if we had not already done so. That meeting was the strangest and most repugnant I had ever attended. It went on for almost a week….

Afterwards my masoul [supervisor] advised me to go to a bungalow and think. I had become a bangali, which meant being put in solitary confinement, ordered to do nothing but think and write. It was an extreme kind of mental torture, and there were members who preferred to kill themselves than to suffer it.

The report of HRW- which has only mentioned a very small part of evidences of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi- is so brief that it has not even mentioned fully the basic words of the cited witnesses. About MKO’s move abroad against a known person like him, Mr. Banisadr’s book- which is a summary of his own experiments and observations (Mr. Banisadr was not at a position to experience the brutality of Rajavi and his former master Saddam Hussein)- says:

“It seemed that a number of members who had left the organization in the US and Europe had not made any problems for Rajavi, but defectors in Iraq had acted to bring down the organization. They showed their enmity toward the organization by taking advantage of politicians, press and even the UN…” (P 452)

“The organization asked me to write a book to prove that these moves against the organization are being done by Iranian spies and secret agents, to prove that they’re being financed in this way and thus, prove that all what they say are lies.”

In this regard, they gave me a folder full of papers which had been gathered for each and every one of those members. Most of them were the reports of those people and their self-criticisms and pieces of newspapers that had written about the issue. Jaberzadeh explained for me how to use these documents. In other words, all the issue was based on this theory: the friend of my enemy is my enemy. Any newspaper that had once published something about regime was labeled anti-MKO; So were the interviewer and the interviewee, and at the next level all those who dealt with that newspaper. And this still didn’t finish here because if the person made contact with another publication, it was also labeled as “belonging to the regime”.

By following that logic, Mojahedin proved that almost all Iranian publications, inside and abroad, either receive money from the regime’s services or are direct agents of the services. In rare cases, they were considered the agents of Monarchists or CIA. Similarly, all those who talked to such publications were considered as the agents of services!

With this load of documents, they felt that I could write the book they needed. I didn’t want to use their logic or rely on their standards, their allegations and …” (P 453)

“They told me they’d brought “a check” and that I could choose any rank in the organization. I smiled… and told them that I want only one thing. That they announce that I’m no longer the representative of NCRI… (They have not done this yet-author).

Then, thinking about escaping, I went to my sister’s home and stayed there for a few days. It was useless. They had followed me and were watching the house. Then they appeared as the agents of regime. Perhaps they wanted to show me that if they don’t protect me, what will happen to me outside the world of Mojahedin. When I protested, they denied watching the house and put the blame on the regime. So, I said that I’d decided to call the police. This led to the miraculous disappearance of the spies around the house.

There were also more suspicious events. Once they told me that I should meet a sister, Fereshte and that it’s urgent. We agreed to meet in the metro station of Baker Street. I arrived in the place a bit earlier; so, to kill the time, I left the station from the other entrance. There, I saw that another member of the organization was waiting. He came and said: “So. They have also told you to come here?”

I was sure that he knows nothing of my separation from the organization. “Yes, that’s right. I’m supposed to meet Sister Fereshte at the other side of the station,” I said.

“Exactly; they’ve told me to stay here and Bahman is somewhere else,” he said.

“Do you know why we are here?” I asked.

“I don’t know but I think that’s an important issue. Sister Nasrin (Mahvash Sepehri, the head torturer of Rajavi’s band- author) is also here to take someone with her to Paris.”


“I don’t know. You can ask yourself. She is in the car on the other side of the street.”

I was shocked by what was going on. They had come to take me to Paris. They will use other tools if they can’t take me by my own will. I left him and went to my apartment. After that, I received a number of telephone calls, asking for meetings but I didn’t dare to go forward…

On February 20th, Massoud Rajavi called me himself… first, he asked me not to hang up. Then he asked me to take part in NCRI’s assembly in Baghdad…

“What’s my fault? Why should I pay for the mistakes of others? What should I say to those who ask about you?”

He could have contented me to listen to him if he had used other words but I saw that he tried to show himself as an innocent person who has not done anything wrong. Maybe he was right from his own point of view. Based on the ideology he had made, he was right. In the end, he considered himself the representative of God on the earth…(P 466)

Again, we don’t forget that these are the memoir of a person who didn’t experience many of the brutal middle aged orders of the Rajavis, and he was not at a position to see such behaviors against others, due to his own geographical and external position (he was the representative of NCRI in the US and Europe).

To explain the issue I refer to one of the mentioned issues.

Mr. Banisadr has referred to the casualties of Eternal Light Operation and the failure of Mojahedin in this operation. He, based on his words, was sent to fight a classic army with the experience of 8 year bloody war although he had not been trained. He survived even though he was wounded. Although Mr. Banisadr (and also Human Rights Watch) may have seen the final outcome of the operation but they are not aware of most of the issues of those days (which led to that operation), of what was happening at the joint operation room of Mojahedin and Iraqis, of the words exchanged between four Iraqi generals and Massoud and Maryam Rajavi.

As a person who was there in that room, I’d like to tell him and HRW (and if the time lets me and there’s a court, Izzat Ebrahim can be another witness on this issue) that 24 hours after it was clear that Mojahedin would fail and when it was clear that Iranian Army has withdrawn its forces to cut the way back, when four Iraqi generals with tears in their eyes asked Rajavi to order for withdrawal in order to save the lives of MKO members, he didn’t accept and believed that all should go or Saddam should agree to give more air support. He wanted to secure air support by the price of the lives of members. But the Generals said that even if Saddam wants to do so he can not because of international, political and situational issues. Massoud Rajavi was even taken to visit Saddam but he came back empty-handed. All those in the operation, especially commanders, remembers very well that those who were saved had returned against the orders or had narrow escapes from the blood and fire (of course, except Mehdi Abrishamchi and other menials of Aur-sur-Oise who were informed in private and returned to the camps before others)

If Massoud and Maryam had accepted the words of the military professionals at that time and even had ordered the withdrawal, at least four-fifth of those dead now could have returned safely. Mr. Banisadr and Human Rights Watch Organization, the number of 1304 dead and 1100 wounded which has been announced by Rajavi himself (the real number is more than 3000) is not due to the stupidity of the Rajavis (since the stupid can be forgiven) but it’s because of the evilness, outrage and turpitude of this couple.

As far as I know, such a lunatic move has not an earlier record in the history of human kind and again, as far as I have investigated, such a move, from any commander at any position, is considered a war crime (toward friendly forces) and should be investigated in the international courts.

The report of HRW, words of Mr. Banisadr, testimonies of former Abu Ghraib prisoners, testimonies of the children who were abused, the tears of the families of MKO captives and thousands of other reports and documents shed light on this sick heart couple, each from a different angle. We hope that we can turn these projectors on, all in international courts and show the real face of Maryam and Massoud Rajavi so that the future generations of all the countries of the world take a lesson.