• 22 April 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • MEK

New evidence has come to light of forced detainment and humanitarian abuses carried out by the Mojahadin-e-Khalq (MEK) at its fortified compound in Iraq, Camp Ashraf.

On Tuesday, Iraq’s Defense Ministry reported that several MEK members had escaped Camp Ashraf and turned themselves over to Iraqi security forces.  One of the escapees, Abdollatif Shadvari, spoke with Radio Free Europe about why he fled:

I’ve been with this organization for 25 years. I joined the [MEK]from Pakistan and through a friend who has been martyred.

I haven’t had any contact with my family during the [past] 25 years because there was no possibility of contacting them. My family thought I was dead. Using the telephone, mobile phone, Internet, and even listening to radio is forbidden in the organization.

He told Radio Free Europe that MEK members are not allowed to leave the organization:

[MEK leader Massoud] Rajavi has said many times, whoever wants to escape from Ashraf will be punished by death and execution.   Not only me, but many of my friends who are now in Ashraf don’t have the possibility to leave the camp. Escape is the only way.

Asked why MEK prevents members from leaving Camp Ashraf, Shadvari explained, “It’s obvious.  If people [leave Ashraf], the organization will fall apart, there won’t be any Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization anymore.”

The MEK  is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. Government, but it is undertaking a major lobbying campaign in Washington to have that designation removed.  The organization has enlisted a number of prominent former U.S. officials and politicians who have said the MEK are “freedom fighters” instead of terrorists.

While terrorist-designated organizations are technically prevented from raising money and operating in the U.S., some of their most prominent supporters have acknowledged receiving a “substantial amount” of money to appear at MEK conferences in Washington, Paris and Berlin.  The source of this funding remains unclear.

Those former officials have expressed support for the MEK because it is the “enemy of our enemy,” and because the group has claimed to be the “main opposition in Iran.”  Often appearing alongside MEK’s unelected president Maryam Rajavi, the officials have called for the terrorist designation of the group to be removed in order to prevent humanitarian abuses that MEK says are carried out against them at Camp Ashraf.

But continued evidence, including Shadvari’s firsthand account, indicates that MEK commits abuses against its own members.  Radio Free Europe’s Golnaz Esfandiari writes, “Former [MEK] members have described the group as a cult that promotes celibacy and martyrdom, takes away members’ children, and uses psychological methods to pressure members and force them to remain obedient and follow orders.”

RAND Corporation has reported on forced detentions and abuses carried out by the group, and Human Rights Watch has even documented cases in which MEK has tortured its own members to death.

The MEK’s denials of such findings may undermine the credibility of its other claims, namely that it has renounced terrorism.

As Shadvari and others share their firsthand accounts of MEK abuses at Camp Ashraf, the organization’s political supporters in Washington may be surprised by what they have to say.

Posted By Jamal Abdi

    One Response to “Camp Ashraf escapee accuses MEK of human rights abuses”

  1. Pirouz says:

    I’ll bet ol’ Brad Sherman knows a thing or two about that mysteries surrounding MEK terror funding.

Leave a ReplyLeave a Reply to Pirouz

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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