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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
President-in-exile in jail
Pedram Moallemian • June 18 2003

French police have stormed the bases of MKO in that country and arrested about 165 people, including Maryam Rajavi, Massoud’s spouse and their President-in-exile, along with his brother Saleh Rajavi. The larger compound raided in Vincent van Gogh’s town of Auvers-sur-Oise is about 2 acres (or 9,600 square yards) large and houses 30 buildings. Not even “K” members of the organization are housed here and everyone at the compound holds a high ranking position. (Mojahedin members are ranked based on several levels, K stands for Kandid or “Candidate” members, those who have been principally accepted as members but are awaiting formal initiation.)

Considering the fact that the group is run by only a very limited number of senior members, arrest of 150+ such members is certainly a blow to their ability to function normally. However the key will remain as to the conclusion awaiting Massoud Rajavi. He IS the organization and without him there is no MKO, but the opposite is also true that as long as he is in charge (and he is always in charge, regardless of other organizational formalities), MKO will remain a factor and in its current format, minus some members or in a different size and/or set-up.

I first met Massoud Rajavi as a young kid shortly after the revolution of 1979. In their building in central Tehran, when they were still called Jonbesh (movement) as Rajavi had declared they can not use “organization” until formal structures were in place, they had a dining room in the basement. The upper floors were all classified by their floor numbers and the higher in the organizational charts you were, the higher you could move up leaving the very top floor (I believe 4th) for the members of “central committee” and their entourage. I was so young and small that after hanging around for days, nobody cared where I went, but I still had not built the courage to go to that top floor.

Finally I gathered enough nerve to consider climbing that final flight of stairs one day but as I started my ascent, I looked up and coming down the stairs was a group of 6 to 8 people following Massoud and his second in command Mousa Khiabani (later killed in a heavy battle with the regime). He was very nice to me, jokingly wondering how I had gotten to the upper floors as I joined them going down the stairs ending in the lunch room and eating a meal of bread, feta cheese and black fresh dates. After that day my nickname was “bacheye markaziat” or “central committee’s kid” and I got even more access to do as I wanted around that building, including being there on the day Yasser Arafat paid a visit. A few short months later, they evacuated that building and that arrangement was dead forever.

Anyone who has ever met him will tell you about Rajavi’s piercing eyes. He constantly watches every little detail happening around him and never misses even a single point. He is the epitome of a cult leader, taking away your sense of who you are and replacing it with his own “trance” almost instantly. A friend once joked that if you ever gave him a 2 hour television spot, he could hypnotize the entire nation of Iran and as much as I hate to admit it, he may have had a point. After all, "brother Massoud" single handedly rebuilt an organization that was at most about 100 member strong to seriously contesting the presidency of the country within a short year or so, before being banned by Ayatollah Khomeini and built a large following after that unseen by other organizations within Iranian left.

I have had my own issues with the MKO. I started categorizing them as a “terrorist organization” after another incident; I was being “interviewed” by an agent of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) as my life was threatened again. He turned the conversation to MKO (the threat was by supporters/agents of the government and nothing to do with them) knowing of my connections to various leftist organization. I insisted he doesn’t need to worry about them but then he asked “suppose Massoud orders all their supporters tomorrow to attack certain targets all over the world, do you think they’ll do it?” I said “without a doubt” then hesitated for a second and continued “I guess that’s why you need to keep an eye on them” he just nodded. The truth is if he orders them, they are well proficient in doing anything, including acts of terror and violence. One member has already set himself on fire in protest to Maryam’s arrest. Who knows what may be next.

But despite my problems with the group, it’s ideology, structure, leadership and methods, I certainly hope this isn’t used to strengthen the position of Iranian government in any way. Furthermore, it would be a sin and a crime if any of it’s rank and file members are forced to or are handed over to Iran. Let the leadership as well as others suspected of crimes or support of any misconduct be tried in a fair and open forum and if convicted, the guilty must serve their sentence in a place other than where the obvious and only penalty is death.

UPDATE - As of now, June 18th @ 4:20 PM PST, all those arrested except 26 people have been released and at least 4 other people have set themselves on fire with the possibility of one being dead and others seriously injured. I suspect the demonstrations will get even more aggressive if the stuation isn't somehow resolved.

Pedram Moallemian is a political and human rights activist based in California. He welcomes your feedback at Pedram’s web log can be found at




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

19 June 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Andersonstown News: Voice of Banana Republicanism?
Eamon Lynch


A Gnat on the Back of an Elephant
Mags Glennon


In Defence of Eamon Lynch
Anthony McIntyre


Left Right?

Eamonn McCann


President-in-Exile in Jail

Pedram Moallemian


The Letters Page has been updated.


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Building an AntiWarMovement: Moving to Action
Davy Carlin


The Genealogy of Power: On Michel Foucault
Liam O Ruairc


Trade Union Bureaucrats Shaft Aldergrove Workers

Sean Smyth


The Supreme Commander

Anthony McIntyre




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