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Regime Change for the Worse

Iran specialists are baffled by the vocal backing the MEK enjoys among some heavy-hitters in Washington. Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University in New York, said: “Their [the MEK’s] support inside Iran is very, very limited.”

“The fact that they’re against the government in Iran doesn’t make them good,” he added in a recent telephone interview. “The only thing that I can think of that would be worse than the present government of Iran is a government of the MEK.” ~The National

The story also details the poor conditions in the MEK’s Camp Ashraf in Iraq:

Massoud Khodabandeh, a former senior high-ranking MEK member, said: “People aren’t allowed to get married. Some there haven’t heard or seen a child for 25 years. There are no phones, no internet, no postal services, nothing..”

Mr Khodabandeh runs an organisation helping those trying to quit the MEK, and believes many at Camp Ashraf want to leave but are effectively held hostage by the Rajavis.

“Those caught trying to run away get severely punished,” he said in a telephone interview from Leeds, England, on Sunday.

One of the most detailed studies of the MEK was conducted in 2005 by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the US-based watchdog.

Outlandish practices ordered by the Rajavis included “divorce by decree of married couples, regular writings of self-criticism reports, renunciation of sexuality, and absolute mental and physical dedication to the leadership,” HRW said.

Its report focused on cases of would-be defectors being tortured at Camp Ashraf, including two who died under interrogation.

Camp Ashraf was was the target of an Iraqi government raid earlier this year that resulted in 34 deaths, which has prompted some of the MEK’s sympathizers here in the U.S. to conflate Iraq’s mistreatment of the inhabitants of the camp with the question of de-listing the MEK. Perversely, this has allowed pro-MEK Americans to portray themselves as human rights advocates. In fact, they are lending public support to a terrorist group that subscribes to a violent ideology and engages in human rights abuses against its own members.

The Secretary of State will announce the decision on whether or not the MEK will be removed from the foreign terrorist organization list next month.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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