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Title People's Mujahedin of Iran, aka Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK) / Camp Ashraf - Text of Masoud Banisadr's speech in INFORM Seminar London, Nov. 2009
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Text of Masoud Banisadr's speech in INFORM Seminar London, Nov 2009 Destructive Cults and Mind manipulation Original source It starts with injustice and ends in tragedy; It might start with love; love for the people, for God, for the country, or even for the culture, customs or tradition; but certainly it ends with Hate. When I was a Ten or Twelve years old child, while my grandmother was telling me story of the Iranian Constitutional revolution in early 20th century; she finished it with horrible story of the death of her father while fighting against his brother who were belonged in two different fronts. At that point I asked her if she hates her uncle. She replied: No and added; they had two different opinions about how our country should be run, but it didn t mean that one was good and the other evil because of their opinion; they fought for their idea and one was killed as a result. Then she kindly taught me that life is not a black and white and people are not divided between good and evil and should not be judged as such. Life is like a rainbow and people are as colourful as life itself. Later in my life I had to force myself to forget this valuable lesson and learn something completely different. I had to teach myself that people are either with you or against you. One has to love those who are with him and hate others. I guess I was not a good student of this school of thought as I am here talking to you about my life story. I paid a very heavy price to learn once more what my grandmother tried to teach me with kindness. I was from a high middle class family; my mother was from a very liberal educated family and my father was a French educated retired colonel of army. Personally I was very liberal minded type of guy, in love with reading and writing and very much against violence of any type. I was one of ten thousand students from 200,000 high school graduates who where fortunate and intelligent enough to be accepted to follow their studies in one of the few universities of Iran at the time. Then at age 17, I fall in love with my future wife and in mater of a year, we decided to start living together. AS my father was very much believing in the idea that one should learn to stand on his or her feet first, then helped to progress; he was not prepared to help us. Therefore to be able to support us, while I was studying in the morning, I start working in an engineering company in the evening. 1976 I graduate from the university in Mathematics and we moved to UK so I could continue my post graduate studies in the same field. Three years later when I was in the final stage of my study as doctorate in engineering mathematics; both my wife and I while we had a one year beautiful daughter found ourselves supporting a group, that soon changed into a terrorist organisation and then into a destructive cult. Mojahedin e Khalq Iran; MEK or as they prefer to call themselves People s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran or PMOI; or MSS (Muslem student society), sometimes NLA (National liberation Army); then in other times NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran) and many other names that here or there they use, due to the situation and audiences. For those who are not familiar with the group; MEK was established by three University students in 1965; after uprising of 1963 against Shah s regime. Professor Ervand Abrahamian in his book called Iranian Mojahedin describes composition of the original members of the MEK as: Of the fifteen in the Central Committee and the Ideological Team, all were born between 1938 and 1948, and most between 1943 and 1946. Many of them had therefore been in their late teens at the time of the 1963 Uprising and in their early twenties when the discussion group first formed. All but two of the fifteen had attended university; six had graduated from the Technical College. Nine were engineers. Thirteen had attended Tehran University. Almost all came from lower-middle-class homes: twelve came from clerical or religious bazaari homes. Again Abrahamian describes MEK s ideology as: a combination of Islam and Marxism. � a Mojahedin handbook published on the eve of the Islamic Revolution declared: we say 'no' to Marxist philosophy, especially to atheism . But we say 'yes' to Marxist social thought, particularly to its analysis of feudalism, capitalism, and imperialism. The same theme was further elaborated in Mojahedin pamphlet published immediately after the revolution. Beginning with the premise that Marxism is a complex ideology containing a scientific as well as a philosophical component, the pamphlet stressed that the Mojahedin organisation from its very inception had accepted much of its science - of course, in an un-dogmatic manner - but had rejected most of its philosophy, its denial of the soul and the afterlife, and its dismissal of all religious as the opiate of the masses. The pamphlet concluded by declaring that scientific Marxism was compatible with true Islam and that it had inspired many intellectuals in Iran as well as progressive working-class movements in other parts of the world. The original Mojahedin handbooks argued that God had not only created the world, as all monotheistic religions believed, but had also set in motion the law of historical evolution. Historical evolution had created private property, class inequality, and had supplanted the early egalitarian communities with class-divided in egalitarian societies. Class divisions had brought into being oppressive states, false ideologies, and fundamental contradictions between owners and workers and between the modes and the relations of production. These fundamental contradictions had generated historical dynamism, propelling qualitative changes out of quantitative ones and ensuring the destruction of all outdated social systems, such as slavery, feudalism and capitalism, and the eventual appearance of the just, egalitarian society in which, as the Koran had promised, the masses (mostazafin ) will inherit the earth'. The Mojahedin termed this law of evolution historical determinism (jaber-e tarikhi), and viewed it, together with the concept of class struggle, as an integral part of Islam. As Hanif Nejad the first founder or leader of the organisation, declared in his last testament: To separate the class struggle from Islam is to betray Islam. MEK From Shii Islam they borrowed notions of martyrdom ; from classical Marxist theories of class struggle and historical determinism; and neo-Marxist concepts of armed struggle, guerrilla warfare and revolutionary heroism. From Bazargan , Taleqani and Ouzegan, the Mojahedin derived the view that Islam was not only compatible with reason, science and modernity, but was also the main world religion that whole-heartedly favoured human equality, social justice and national liberation. From Marx they obtained their perception of economics, history, and society, especially the concept of the class struggle. From Lenin they acquired the economic interpretation of imperialism and revolutionary contempt for all forms of reformism . From Che Guevara and Debray, they learnt the contemporary arguments about Third World dependency and the New Left polemics against the old communist parties, especially against the old school's preference for organizations over spontaneity; trade unions over guerrilla bands; industrial workers over radical intellectuals; tactical alliances over uncompromising zeal; and of course, the political struggle over the armed struggle . Finally, from Marighella and Guillen they obtained a modern version of the Bakuninist strategy for making revolution. According to this strategy, once a small but well-organized and highly dedicated group of armed revolutionaries dared openly to assault the authorities, their heroic example inspires others to follow suit until eventually the whole state disintegrates . In this way, the nineteenth-century Russian anarchist notion of 'propaganda by deed' entered Iran and inevitably reinforced the traditional Shii concept of heroic martyrdom. Perhaps though MEK this idea travelled to PLO camps; with whom, MEK had very close links then; and through them to Egypt and then theorised by al-Zawahiri into what can be seen now as sole strategy and tactic of Al-Qaeda; the terrorism . MEK s strategy and tactics therefore as other revolutionary organisation of fifties and sixties was based on guerrilla war some starting from villages and others as MEK from cities. They believed by disturbing peace and stability of Shah s regime, by even show of their heroic action and their martyrs, they can force people into a revolution against Shah and his advocates the United States, UK and Israel. 1971 before their first operation almost all leadership of MEK were arrested and later in 1972 all except Rajavi whose sentence changed into life prison and another member who was yet free, were executed. 1965 after split in the organisation into Marxist faction and Muslim faction, and Rohani the free member of the leadership joining the Marxist faction, Rajavi become the sole remaining leader of the organization. During Shah s era, MEK proudly accepted responsibility of few Assassination against few American military advisors and elites of the Shah s regime. After the revolution MEK, although it had a violent history during the Shah s era, by then had as its main slogan Independence, Freedom, and Democracy for Iran. In addition, its members were portraying themselves as the champions of women s and minorities rights. After the revolution, MEK s policy, at least on the surface, was a non-violent one even one actively against violence. With those slogans and this policy, the group s past history of struggle against the Shah s dictatorship, and about a hundred martyrs, MEK soon changed from a small guerrilla organisation into a popular one, able to attract tens of thousands of young people, mainly university and other students and intellectuals, to its public meetings. On the 20th of June, 1981, everything suddenly began to change quickly. In a matter of a year or two, neither MEK nor I were the same as before; to be precise, we both changed into the opposite of our former selves. On that day, Rajavi, the leader of MEK, proud of himself for having changed the organisation from at most a few hundred members clandestine group into a popular one with tens of thousands of supporters, felt he could be the Iranian Lenin and could repeat the Bolshevik s October Revolution. He asked all MEK s members and supporters to pour into the streets of Tehran and other major cities and overthrow the government. He thought when these young students began marching in Tehran, people would follow them and they could have their velvet revolution, forcing the revolutionary government to surrender the leadership of the country to them. Well, members and supporters came, but the rest of the people did not. The result was violence from both sides and arrest and the executions of many young supporters, many of them under 18 years of age. On June 21st, MEK changed from a popular organisation into a clandestine, terrorist one, isolated from the wider society. In a matter of a year, it lost more than 7,000 of its members and supporters, either in street battles or through executions. At the same time, the group claimed responsibility for the killing of more than 2,000 of the top officials and supporters of the regime. In July 1981, Rajavi and many top members of MEK left Iran for refuge in Paris. To survive, MEK, with terrorism as its only strategy and tactic, and in total isolation from the wider society, had no choice but to complete its transformation into an extreme, violent cult employing the most sophisticated methods of mind control. 1985, Rajavi, in Paris, with the announcement of his marriage to Maryam, the wife of his First Lieutenant, Mehdi Abrishamchii; announced the beginning of a process called the Ideological Revolution, in which he gave all MEK members a choice : either to leave or to accept him as ideological or absolute leader. Soon Rajavi to lead MEK in fighting against their country, side by side with Sadam Hussein and Iraqi forces, left Paris for Baghdad. Between 1986 and 1989 they fought with Iranian along side with Iraqis and as a result thousands of members were killed and at the same time they announced killing of more than fifty thousands of Iranian army and revolutionary guards personal. After the fall of Sadam Hussein, they were forced to surrender their arms to American forces and now almost 3400 remaining members in Iraq are waiting to see what is going to happen to them and where are they going next. While Maryam, left Baghdad for Paris residing there and Masoud vanished, no body except high ranking members know where he is ? Back to myself and Anna then my wife; 1985 after going through the ideological revolution ; we changed from sympathisers into members of the organisation, ready to fight and die for the cause and the leader. 1986 Anna during anti bourgeois phase of Ideological revolution, left the organisation; 1990 when Rajavi, the leader of MEK, ordered divorce of all couples; I was forced to divorce love of my life and couldn t see even my two children for another six or seven years. 1996 after representing the group for almost ten years in the United Nations, European Union and the United States; by chance I found enough courage in myself to escape. Now question is how a liberal minded, educated, married person, with a very happy life, can change into a person, supporting and representing a very destructive terrorist cult; sacrificing everything he has; ready to kill himself for the cause? I can not say ready to kill others as I never was able to hate and kill and as mater of fact these were continuous criticism of the organisation toward me. In ideological revolution, Masoud Rajavi used to call me yoghurt meaning the one who has no zeal to hate the enemy. It took me almost ten years to read all literatures of MEK all over again, to search about faith and ideologies and cults, to be able to partially answer why and how a man can sacrifice everything almost for nothing. For an illusion, a utopia, false promises, or to fulfil childish desires of a destructive cult leader. My main question was: did I have freedom of choice in this adventure, or my freewill was taken from me step by step without me noticing it at all. My conclusions are: First; you might give me freedom of choice to leave this room whenever I want, but at the same time through establishing phobia and paranoia in me toward outside of this room; you can persuade me, behind any of the doors and windows of this room there is a danger to my life and my dignity waiting for me, therefore is better for me to stay rather than leave; in this situation it seems that I have freedom of choice while in reality, I don t, as I have forced to believe that leaving is much worse than staying. Second; will power is a sheer force, a force without any direction, our self , our identity , our personality and our character gives the direction to that will force and will make it the freewill. If you change personality of a person, you have not taken his will power, and as mater of fact his will power will grow as well but as he or she is not himself or herself any more, in a way you have taken his or her freewill, while it doesn t seem so. Third; how do they do it? The simplest way that I can describe how they do it, is by giving you the example of boiling a frog in a pot. Perhaps You know about the experience? They put a frog in a pot on the fire, then they warm it one degree at a time. First the frog not only resists staying in the pot, but perhaps it enjoys it as well, especially if the outside temperature is low enough. As the pot gets warmer slowly, the frog doesn t realise what is happening, and when it reaches to the boiling point; the frog is left with cooked muscles unable to jump. To explain how they did it; I am afraid I have to use a little of mathematics; though I have simplified my mathematical model as much as I could, still for those of you who hate Mathematics, please close your eyes and ears, at least for few minutes. Mind manipulation, mind control or brainwashing is all about change of beliefs. If one can change our fundamental beliefs about ourselves and our surroundings, if he or she can imprison our old-self and substitute it with new one or as they call it reborn us again ; then while it doesn t seem that they have taken our freewill, but as freewill is dependent to our character, personality and our belief system; we are choosing according to our new-self . We choose as the leader wishes so not as our personal interest dictates. The formula for changing a belief from simple to most complex ones according to my model is as below: Bn= Bo + Bi + Fo � T ± E � T2 In this formula (Bn) is new belief. (Bo) is old related belief. ( Bi) is collection of unrelated beliefs that make up our personality, character, fundamental or strong beliefs; � (Fo) is our feelings toward the old belief. And T is the length of time that our feeling is active while the change in our belief is happening. E is our emotion at the time of the change, and as you can see it can be in the same direction as the old belief or in opposite direction. And again T is the length of the time that our emotion is active. As you can see in this formula we have three distinctive components, each one can be changed differently while change in any one of them can create new belief, slightly or totally different from the old one. These three components are: component What is it How can it be altered What is called 1 Bo Our old related belief. Rational and influence technique. Influence 2 Bi + Fo � T Our personality + Our old feeling multiply By the length of time that it is active. Change of behaviour & Isolation. Mind Control 3 E � T2 Our Emotion at the time, multiply by square of the length of time that it is active Creating strong emotion & Prolonging it as long as possible. Brainwashing Influence is change of components of the old belief; Bo through rational persuasion or influence trickery. This is in my view the first stage of mind manipulation, mostly used during recruitments. My definition of Mind control is when a Belief within the first stage (Through rational and influence techniques) has changed and a person already has found new set of beliefs and mind controller wants to freeze this set of new beliefs. At this stage, (Bo) is the belief that has been created by the cult leader and (Bn) is the tendency toward our old belief before joining the cult. Mind controller, to get rid of (Bn) or to make it = to (Bo); the mind manipulator has to neutralize effect of ( Bi +F o� T) which is in the same direction as the belief that one had before joining the cult. Our formula in this situation is going to be like this: Bn = Bo - ( Bi +F o� T) ± E � T2 As you can see here he or she is facing two different problems. First he has to deal with the old feeling that already exist (Fo � T). For example he has created this belief in poor victim that he or she has to leave his or her family and join the cult for saving the humanity. The problem now is, the old feeling of the subject toward his or her family. Mind controller knows that he can not change old feelings stored in the shape of memory in brain s neurons, therefore he can not do much about (F o) but if in a way he stops that feeling to be active, meaning make T equal zero or near zero, he or she has been able to minimize the effect of (Fo � T). This is why isolation of the subject of mind control from his pervious environment works magically, as you can force the victim not to remember his family and friends and therefore you can force T to become equal zero or near zero. The other obstacle in mind controlling is the personality of the victim and non related beliefs that might influence and change new rooted belief. i.e. ( Bi) Mind controller again knows how complicated this parameter is therefore he or she is not going to try to change it directly; he or she will try to neutralize it by enforced change of behaviour in the victim. I will define the third stage of mind manipulation, Brainwashing when emotions are used to change a person s belief or beliefs. i.e. (E � T2) Emotions might be created through different trickery including use of coercive methods. Back to my story and MEK: 1- Use of rational and influence techniques for change of belief: or if you prefer Schein unfreezing and change process. Generally, the same thing that is necessary for change and building of the future, bringing up new ideas and inventions, meaning, not satisfied with what is and looking for different world, different society and different be; can be as destructive as constructive when a con man starts using it. At university apart from studying different branches of science, engineering, medicine or art � young students, learn how to think and how to understand what s going on in the world and in their own country. Well of course they will also learn how to be and think about themselves and their futures and how to earn more money and become rich. Either way, if they just think about themselves and their future, or they sympathize with the people and their misery, the first thing they notice is injustice. Then they are forced to forget existing gaps of wealth between the poorest majority of people and the slim minority, the rich at the top. You are forced to ignore corruption and discrimination, dictatorship and secret police. It doesn t stop there as gradually you learn about the news of the world and you will see wider and deeper injustices that exist. Again you are forced not to see and not to think and not to ask. This was my generation s first dilemma. We were from a generation that were taught to think and then asked not to think. It was impossible. Those who tried hard to follow this line ended up addicted to drugs. The rest of us students tried to find an answer for our question. Please let me repeat that the first step is seeing the injustice around you and everywhere you look in the world. Hence you have to struggle against this injustice either peacefully or violently. And when there is no peaceful means available, there is only one way open to you; violence. This was our situation during Shah s era; and our vulnerability toward being recruited by guerrilla organisations such as MEK. Iranian revolution of 1979 suddenly changed everything from bottom up. Suddenly not only the government, but culture, costumes, family values, definition of good and bad, right and wrong all started to change fundamentally. During time of uncertainty and revolution, firstly you are more willing to accept new ideas; secondly you are more ready to sacrifice things that used to be dear to you; and more important of all you are more vulnerable than ever to be attracted by someone with charisma and confidence, who claims he has a magic box with solutions for everything. With apology back to Mathematics: Cult leaders to change or manipulate mind of a person, don t need to start from brainwashing. As matter of fact I am totally disagree with those who believe that all cult leaders are brainwashing their disciples from day one, or all cults are destructive ones. I think unless someone has been victim of thought reform of Mao s china; he or she never has gone through sudden change or in short period of time. Remember frog and boiling pot; the magic is in one degree at a time. Cult leaders start with logic, existing common beliefs, even science, and use of some influence techniques; the same methods used by most western political party leaders and even by your local supermarket to force you to buy the product that you don t need. They start by changing your old beliefs one at a time. Any belief we have is combination of few other simpler beliefs; perhaps I can show it like this: Bo = B1+B2+B3+ � To change an old belief, they need to change perhaps only one or two component of that belief. Let me give you an example. The first belief that MEK wanted us to accept was that we should join them and sacrifice everything for the cause. Therefore: BN = Join MEK and sacrifice for the cause. (Though the meaning of sacrifice, begin from perhaps financial help and one or two hours per day or per week helping them, and then gradually changed into more and more.) They will start from an old belief that you should sacrifice for your future and your family. Let us look at this belief: BO= B1(you are human) + B2(A human is a social, intelligent and responsible animal) + B3(you are responsible toward your future and your family.) + B4(Responsibility means sacrifice or pay the price.) As you can see the above belief is not strange and most people in this room have some how the same kind of belief with almost the same kind of components. If you look at above combination, they don t need to change all of the components, but only they have to fiddle a bite with B3 . There were days and hours of lecture around this simple idea; briefly, they were telling us: to be responsible toward your future and your family means to be responsible toward your country and your people, as without independent, free, progressive country what ever you do or gain is meaning less as the dictator or Imperialism can rub them from you easily. Here they started using Islamic education and Islamic terms ; I remember in one of the lectures they defined Amal Hasaneh, good action versus Amal Saleh, the best action. They told us when a Muslim can do Amal Saleh it is haram or forbidden for him to do Amal Hassaneh; and as an example; they gave us an example, that we have thousand toman and we can give this money to our neighbour to spend it in saving his poor ill child from death or at the same time we can donate this money to a revolutionary organisation to fight against tyranny and Imperialism; what should we do? The answer of course was the second one as they can fight with the root of misery and poverty, therefore we are saving our country and millions while by helping our neighbour; at most we have helped one person. Of course the revolution itself was a great helping hand in MEK s cause, for example they wanted us to accept that culture, customs, logic and moral values of our parent s generation all were wrong and have to change. During revolution time and time of uncertainty this change can be achieved easily. My speech is about myself, but easily I can imagine how the same thing can be achieved here where there is no revolution if an Al-Qaeda recruiter wants to recruit a new member. How he can persuade his victim to reject his or her parent s tradition, custom and logic and how he or she can be persuaded to accept sacrifices for the good of Muslims in general. After accepting that, we are told that we have to do something for our people and our country or for our fellow Muslims. The next question is how? We were taught that one hand has no sound, for even clapping, you need at least two hands; therefore to be useful you have to join others in an organised fashion. Then we were invited to search for the most active, progressive or revolutionary organisation that we are more comfortable with. And of course in this way they could persuade us that the best is MEK and how lucky we are to have such an organisation that we can join and via them, serve our country, Muslims and humanity. 2- Mind control or Schein Freezing process Changing beliefs of people, especially young students as most of MEK s recruits and Al-Qaeda s were and are, is not so difficult and with little logic and use of influence techniques (such as: Commitment and Consistency, concession, Foot in the door, Low ball Technique, Scarcity, Big Picture Technique, use of Authority, use of laziness of Brain; Rumour, Long speeches, � ) and great helping hand of short-sighted policies of governments and media; it can be achieved with no great difficulty. The real problem is not how to achieve it but how to sustain it. Old beliefs can change but feelings attached to them can not be vanished easily. In MEK they could change our belief that we are responsible toward our family, but they could not easily destroy our feelings toward our spouses, parents and siblings. If by mistake, in first stage, they attack these feelings, they might loose everything as feelings are strong and well kept in our memory. Another problem of theirs is that, our personality can not be changed easily and as bases of our individuality, it can indirectly influence against any new beliefs contradictory with our system of beliefs. Let me remind you of: Bi + Fo � T In our formula. Facing old personality of new recruits: How can they reduce the negative effect of our personality over new beliefs cultivated by them? They can do it by Change of behaviour. Change of behaviour, gradually means: change of character, meaning: at least the effect of our old personality ( Bi) on new belief will be zero or on pause. Isn t it strange when ever you see someone recruited by destructive cults or a terrorist organisation; suddenly his or her behaviour, the way he or she dresses or even his or her hair style and facial features change? For an outsider all might seems superficial and worthless changes, but within destructive cults these changes are essential as not only they are flag of the group and glue of sticking different recruits with different personality and background together, but it has a very clear message for new recruit from step one. Change of behaviour will force new recruit to say goodbye to his old personality and character and welcomes the new one. In this way organisations such as MEK and Al-Qaeda can freeze our old personality; or put its effect on our new set of beliefs on hold or pause. Facing old feelings: Isolation (Mental or physical or both; through establishing phobia and paranoia toward outside world) means T=0 therefore (Fo � T) = 0 or near zero: There is an Iranian expression saying: The one leaves our heart when he or she leaves our eyes. This is the solution. They can not erase our old feelings for our family and friends and our old way of life (Fo) from our memory; but they can force us not to remember them or force T=0. How? By isolation, mentally or physically or both if they can; by creating phobia and paranoia toward outside world; by persuading us to leave our family home and live in Collective houses; by forcing us to leave our study and job and work hard for the group and have less sleep (As leaders of MEK were teaching us; all new members should work so hard, that reaching bed should mean death sleep for them. And when they wake up they should feel they need hours more sleep.), by controlling our sources of information; by reducing our private and free time to almost zero. Next step; Brainwashing: change of character and death of old self; reborn as new person: the key is emotion. Back to formula, in stage one they have changed a belief, through rational and influence techniques; in stage two they have frozen the new belief by neutralizing the effect of old feelings and old personality. In stage three that I call it brainwashing, terrorist organisations that have no choice but to change into destructive cults have to change personality of their members, kill or put his or her old personality in life prison and give him new identity, new personality, new character, new life or perhaps death. How do they do it? Let us go back to formula: Bn = Bo - ( Bi +F o� T) ± E � T2 The key is in creating Emotion and prolonging it as long as possible: They can do it by using the last element in the formula (E � T2). If they can create enough emotion and sustain it as long as they can and if that emotion be in opposite direction of our old personality in time (E � T2) can neutralize ( Bi) and then can alter at least part of it, changing us into new or reborn person . Now let me go back to my life story and MEK s story, to see how they did it: Different destructive cults use different type of emotions. Then through different method they will try very hard to keep that emotion alive and kicking (remember T2; if they can keep it going on as long as possible, the effect on change of character is multiplied by power two). For Al-Qaeda the job is rather easy and it is done by others; every news about injustice against Muslims, misery of life in occupied Palestine, discrimination against Muslims here and there, are all the sources of strong emotions that can be used by their preachers everywhere in the world to recruit new members and change their characters inside different franchise Al-Qaeda cells. Between 1980 and 1985 MEK was using the same method by bombarding us daily with news of torture and executions in Iran, some real some exaggerated and some made up. Misery and suffering of MEK members in particular and people in general from one hand and heroic actions of Members on the other hand could create strong emotion in us, making them able to change us from who we were into new beings. Within two years they overwhelmed us with news of almost 7000 death of revolutionary forces either during arm struggle or through execution and at the same time they announced killing of almost 2700 people by MEK members, some through suicide operations. For example I remember well that in one meeting they showed us hanging of a member by government and in another video they showed suicide operation of a member Majid Niko who killed himself and many more during a Friday pray. In both cases in single day they could recruit new sympathizers and force many more to come closer toward the group. In 1985 MEK and Rajavi faced great problems; as by then from one hand number of executions and so called heroic actions of the group dropped sharply, the Political coalition of MEK; NCR was disintegrating as all important original members already had left it and had changed into opposition of the coalition; hopes of Iranian and foreign supporters of MEK such as UK s Labour party and French Socialist party in MEK s promises and predictions of collapse of Iranian regime in short time were vanishing, therefore their support for the organisation. On the other hand inside of MEK; Rajavi was facing big questions about the organisation s strategy and tactics. For example to direct terrorist teams inside Iran, they were using phone lines from London and Paris, while they knew that all lines are controlled by the Iranian regime, resulting in capture, arrest, torture and execution of members, and yet they were continuing using the same method as this was the only way they could direct them toward their heroic actions which meant their death. I guess by then Rajavi had decided to move all members to Iraq, to start a very long time struggle against Iran from Iraq. But how could he persuade all members and supporters to accept to fight along side of enemy of Iran against their own people? Also although all of us more or less knew that Rajavi is the sole leader of the organisation, still on the paper the organisation was supposedly run by democratic centralism, or collectively by political bureau members. He had to change this illusion as well. So what he did? He through a bombshell of emotion on all of us. Well as a result he lost some supporters, but for those remaining, he made sure that we will be his slave for life. Let me read you part of the story from my memoirs: On 17th March 1985 we were summoned to the council room for a meeting with Sister Tahereh, in charge of the society or branch of MEK in UK. We were surprised. It was Wednesday and council meetings were held on Fridays. The council room was a narrow, austere place. The only furniture was a large, rectangular table flanked on both sides by two long benches, which were so uncomfortable that before each meeting we would all scramble for a seat by the wall to ease the inevitable backache brought on by long sessions. Once all twelve or thirteen members of the council were present, someone brought tea and biscuits (as a sign of a happy news on the way). Let s eat something sweet, said Sister Tahereh. I have some very good news for you. Obviously something important had happened. Perhaps there had been a victorious operation inside Iran; perhaps . . . As our minds ran quickly through the possibilities, Tahereh stood up to read a message she had brought with her. Then her deputy got up as well, a clear signal for us to follow suit. We all stood to attention like soldiers, listening intently. In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. In the path of God and the people, willingly and with satisfaction, we have accepted an ideological and organizational imperative, which is the will of God and of the Iranian people s new revolution. . . . we have decided to marry. Signed: Maryam Rajavi and Masoud Rajavi. In a loud voice, Sister Tahereh said, Mobarak bashad [congratulations] and started clapping. Bewildered, we joined in. There followed a deathly silence. What s happened? asked Sister Tahereh. Why are you all standing there as stiff as boards? Don t you have anything to say? She turned with a questioning look to her deputy, Fazeleh, who had obviously already heard the news, and then rapidly focused on the person sitting next to her and demanded to know what he thought. As confused and stunned as the rest of us, he smiled limply and said, Well, I don t know what s going on, but since Brother Masoud has made this decision, I am sure it is very good news. Won t you offer your congratulations? she said. Well, of course, he replied and with the smile still fixed on his face he said congratulations loudly. Have you any questions? she asked. Excuse me, but who is Sister Maryam Rajavi? said the man sheepishly. Tahereh laughed and said, Don t you know? Sister Maryam Rajavi is co-leader of our organization. He swallowed hard. But Sister Maryam Azodanlu was � Tahereh finished his sentence for him, the wife of Brother Mehdi [Abrishamchii] Yes. She laughed again. Why are you stammering? Why has your face gone white? Has something snapped in your mind? Have your male prejudices been offended? Don t worry. No religious principles have been violated, they divorced a few weeks ago, before this news was announced. She was silent for a few moments. Then she asked him if he still wanted to offer congratulations. Well, I still don t understand, but yes, of course, congratulations, many congratulations. Well different people analysed this event differently, some called it the lust of Rajavi for his deputy s wife; they called it madness that can destroy the organisation. I think, MEK that had only one strategy and tactic against Iranian regime Terrorism , if it wanted to survive, had no choice but complete its transformation, changing into a destructive cult; Changing Rajavi s position from a leader into totalist or absolute or as they call him ideological leader and us into new members following his orders without any doubt or question. From then on for almost six months and perhaps every day we had high emotional revolutionary meetings, to appreciate these meetings let me read description of one of them for you from my memoirs: One night after returning from the supporters base, I was told that another meeting had been called. This was not a council meeting but the first of a great many bizarre gatherings that came to be known as revolutionary meetings . When I arrived, I saw that Anna (then my wife) and a few other sisters were present. The men sat along one side of the room and the women along the other, with Sister Tahereh in the middle. Everyone was crying, including a young man, a council member, who was talking about his sex life. Sex was a great taboo for us and in the past we had never spoken of it except to our masoul, especially not in the presence of sisters in a public meeting. But no one made any attempt to stop him. He was admitting that he was attracted to Sister Tahereh. I couldn t believe my eyes or ears. I could never imagine, still less accept, that any of us men had sexual feelings towards our sisters , not only because of the strict morals observed in the organization, but also, to be frank, because of the way they dressed and their behavior, which was much rougher than any man s. But he seemed to be serious. When he had finished another member jumped from his seat, rushed towards him and slapped him hard in the face. He showed no reaction although his sobbing continued, as it had throughout his confession. A satisfied smile appeared on Tahereh s face. She told him to sit and asked him to write down what he had said. Then she looked at me. Why are you so surprised? Do you think you re better than he is? You re worse. You are all worse than each other. She asked me if I had anything to say. I replied that I had written down whatever there was to say. I had recently given her a report containing all my secrets. � Rubbish! You have said nothing; what you have written is naïve and childish. Many simple members and even supporters, who have no need for this revolution, have criticized themselves more severely than you � You have to work very hard � Do you know that Anna has revolted and has gone further in the revolution than you? She knew where to aim her barbs and she did it skilfully. She knew how much I am loved my wife and how worried I was about losing her. If Anna had revolted and I had not, then she would remain in the organization and I would have to leave. It would mean losing everything. Looking back, I think that this was what she wanted to hear from me, but I could not see it at the time. I just sat there trying to search my memory for something untold about myself that would be accepted as a revolutionary revelation. As soon as Tahereh felt that I was desperate to revolt, she left me alone and asked another man about his revolution. � As people got up one after the other to make their confessions, Tahereh watched my reactions and from time to time directed remarks at me. My temperature seemed to rise and I was unable to think. I was desperately embarrassed. It was as if I was sitting there naked with everybody watching me. Tahereh chose her moment carefully and then pounced. What s happening, Masoud? Is your icy logic melting away? You always thought you were clever and talented! Do you see your real self now? Do you see that when it comes to ideology you re just a fool? She was right; at that moment I was like a two-year-old child. All my logic, all my powers of understanding, all my facility with words were gone. I wished I had something to tell her, that I could confess that I was attracted to a woman. Anything. That way I could save myself. But the harder I searched my memory for some untold offence, the less I could recall. Tahereh asked me yet again whether I had anything to say. Suddenly I too began to cry. My words were garbled, � She interrupted me and asked me not to do anything but to think and write. Rajavi called this procedure as: it is like pouring boiling water at high pressure onto our head! Yes that is right, this was some sort of experience for testing you all, as we want to have steel. we are looking for new standard of power and capacity and work. And Few months later in their wedding ceremony he described his Ideological revolution with these wordings: This is new birth, an explosion, I am asking you to come with me to infinity! First you have to judge me! You have to accuse me! Accuse me as a dishonourable, disgraceful, capricious, person, who has stolen his best-friend s wife. You have to take me to your own court, you have to judge me, if the accusers win, good for people who will get rid of a leader like me. But if they lose, you have to come to aid me with all your might; you have to put your hand in mine to destroy Khomeini and to bring peace and freedom to our country. But that is not all, after that you have to think, what did you think yourself? If what ever you thought was correct so reject us as your leader. If not, you have to answer where from did your thought came from? If it was not inspired from our decision, it had to be from your own character and personality! Hence in this case we are going to act like mirror, a mirror that you will be able to see your own true face, in it. . Then with high emotions and very loudly he repeat a sentence from one of the Persian poems: burn, burn, die, die, don t be afraid of burning and die in the fire of this love. . Then he said everybody has to die and born again (this time not from your own mother but from Maryam.)..... If any body has not born again cannot call himself Mojahed, self-burning and self-sacrifice, compare to what Mehdi{Abrishamchii} and Maryam have done, is nothing. . Again he start reading following sentences of the same poem: die, die, when you come alive from this smoke, you are all BADR MONIER . (Higher than moon) . Then came climax of climax of his speech, while he rose from his seat, and was crying loud, said: What is the message? Yes, I have come to sacrifice myself and my organisation and my generation, for the freedom of people. For thousand times they drilled my heart, for thousand times they put the hanging rope on my neck, thousand times they lashed my body, Yes I am people s Mojahedin, I am hundreds of thousands, I am representative of generation of infinities. I have come to sacrifice myself for the freedom of my chained people. Hi people of Iran, HAL MEN NASAR-A YANSORNIE (i.e. famous sentences from Imam Hussein, is there any body to help me? ). . Well who could not cry, who could not shut, who could not chant: BA MASOUD, BA MARYAM MIJANGIAM TA AKHAR . (following Masoud, following Maryam, we are going to fight till eventual victory. And Iran is Rajavi and Rajavi is Iran) As he explained; from then on all of us had to analysis our old personality and reach to this conclusion that it was corrupt, we were bourgeois, Liberal, selfish �. And to conclude that we have to follow Rajavi in changing our old character and personality and system of values and beliefs. MEK s ideological revolution didn t end there; next stage was struggle against bourgeois tendencies; when Anna couldn t bare it any more and left the group. And then in 1990 came the biggest bombshell of all as Rajavi suddenly asked us all to divorce our spouses as love of us toward our spouses was acting as some sort of buffer between us and the ideological leader; preventing us to win over the regime. Let me read part of my memoirs about that meeting. Rajavi announced at the meeting that as our ideological leader he had ordered our mass divorce from our spouses. He asked all to hand over our rings if we had not already done so. That meeting was the strangest and most repugnant organizational meeting I had ever attended. It went on for almost a week, but we had lost all sense of space and time and for all I knew it could have been days, weeks or months. From the very first second it was different from any other meeting. Although there were almost two hundred members present, one rarely heard any noise except when individuals were talking with Rajavi or when he or Maryam were giving a speech. Every now and then, we were startled by a loud cry as somebody arrived at her or his revolution, following which the leaders would talk with the person amid sobs and tears. Tea break provided the only respite from this grim intensity. On the board behind Maryam were written all our names. Those in red were in the process of revolution, those in green had had their revolution. At the start it was up to any individual to volunteer for revolution, but by the end of the meeting it became compulsory to do so. Maryam read out the names, five at a time, of those who were in the final stages of revolution, and called them up on to the stage and have their revolution there. Those who did so had to stand up and say what they had learnt about themselves. At that point everybody else was free to ask them questions, accuse them, criticize them, even insult them in any way they wished. At this meeting rank was not important: there were only two classes of people, those whose names were written in green and who were now therefore real Mojahed, and all the others. Until the start of this stage of the revolution, the leaders said, the organization had had no real ideological members except Maryam, as she was the only one who could recognize and understand the true ideological position of Masoud. She was the only one who paid a price to be a Mojahed. The rest of us were receivers, who had not had to pay any ideologically valuable price to be members. In the first stage of the revolution we had been mere observers, whereas Masoud and Maryam had been the victims of all accusations and undergone all sufferings. We had watch and others had even praised us, considering us to be the victims of their selfishness and their whim. Now it was our turn to pay the price of being and remaining a Mojahed. Maryam in this meeting; lectured us at length on the subject she called signature for sins . The era of sinless leaders had passed and in the present era people had to choose their leader from among themselves. Having accepted all Masoud s sins, we had to give him the signature of sin , which meant that we no longer doubted him and that we assigned to him the power to make decisions on our behalf in all matters, even in our own private lives. From then on our relationships with everyone and everything would not be bipartite but tripartite, Masoud being the third corner in every triangle. We were free to love anyone except those who opposed him, whom we had to hate. Departing from this triangle of love and hate was like killing our leader or selling him. Our new ideology, later called the ideology of Maryam would provide us with a protective shield. To help us break free of the old ideology and its protective shield there were many willing to help, there and at subsequent private meetings. Teasing, insulting, abusing and dishonouring, euphemistically known as offering a helping hand , were the methods used to propel people into their revolution. Rajavi teased me by calling me yoghurt , as I had no revolutionary roughness and was soft and yielding like yoghurt. Others chose to call me not by my first name, which was to the same as Rajavi s, but by my family name, to remind me of my liberal and bourgeois tendency as ex-President Banisadr. Every day, after sitting in meetings with Masoud and Maryam for an average of twelve hours, we had further five- or six-hour meetings with the head of our section, Mohadessin. So we scarcely had time to eat or sleep or for private reflection. Apart from all this, I was suffering immense physical distress too. Thanks to having removed my plaster prematurely and a high level of activity in Venezuela and Malta, my back problem was worse than ever. Sitting every day up to seventeen hours without any proper rest added to the pain, which had now spread to my legs and feet, so that I could barely walk. Even the strongest painkillers did not help. Fortunately the mental agony blotted out most of the physical pain. Well in this stage all members left their spouses and in mater of months had to leave their children too, as with the excuse of war between the West and Iraq; all children were sent to Europe and America to live with supporters. Many members never saw their children again. That was the end of family life within the organisation. Next stage was against sex and as a result we had to accept absolute celibacy not only while we are alive but even after death in paradise. In another stage we had to accept supremacy of women members over men as they were generally more selfless and united with the leader than men who still were used to walk on their feet and not leader s feet . Final stage was called self divorce as we had to divorce ourselves not only the bad or devilish part of our personality but even the good part of it. We had to kill our old self completely. Again from my memoirs let me read you how did it start. 1994-1995 we were in total deadlock, politically, militarily, and even personally; all predictions of our great leader failed to materialize; and we were changed into beings without any self esteem from within or without; the greatest wish most of us had was honourable death, perhaps as Martyr . I no longer knew what was right or wrong, real or fake. I couldn t think or act or smile. The only thing I could do right was keep silent and shed tears whenever I was alone. Not until later did I learn that almost everyone in the organization, except those at the very top, were as confused and desperate as I was. To put everybody on the right track, the organization announced that it needed another ideological revolution, a revolution much deeper, harsher, harder, longer and with more misery than any other in the past. It had already been started in Paris among our members and in March 1995, at the beginning of the new Iranian year, I was recalled to Paris to attend the ideological revolution meetings. An old house, newly refurbished, was the base for the potential ideological revolutionaries. At any one time there were twenty to thirty people living there. It was obvious the moment one went through the door that those residents would be there for weeks, months, even years.. The depressing atmosphere was totally unrelieved by chat or cheer or laughter. People barely spoke and none dared to share his misery and hardship with others. In each of a set of rooms, videos of Maryam s sermons at various ideological meetings were being screened. They were classified and one had to start from the first and then go to the next rooms in the right order. Another larger room was set aside for people who wanted to write their ideological report and another for brothers to rest; sisters went to another house near by at night. There were two brothers always hanging around the rest room, in a permanent state of silent, sleepy gloom. I discovered that they had finished seeing the videos, but were not prepared to go through the revolution. In other words, they were borida (borida means cut ; members who were unable to carry on and were hoping to escape were called borida; it was the worst thing in the organisation to be called with beside being called ordinary person and traitor) and were waiting for the organization to decide their destiny. Self-Divorce - Fardiat The theme of this stage of the ideological revolution was the war on fardiat. Fardiat is an Iranian term that can be understood fully only within the context of Eastern philosophy. It has a full spectrum of meanings, from individualism and egoism to self-sufficiency and self-esteem. � Mojahedin ideology required one to banish this sense of self and replace it with love for God through the leadership. One must receive all one s confidence, esteem and sufficiency from without, the leader, depend on him and only him, love him and only him. A Mojahed must love the leadership with total and unwavering devotion, defend them, fight for their rights, be kind towards their friends and implacable towards their foes. In short, a Mojahed must first divorce himself from his family, friends and normal life and then go through the final stage of divorcing himself, repudiating all love for himself. This stage was called self-divorce (tallagh khood). These revolution meetings were called dig ( the pot ), meaning that the experience was as painful as sitting inside a pot of boiling oil . At first we couldn t take this concept seriously but later we felt its pain with all cells of our body. I was still absorbing the content of the videos when I was called to an ideological meeting with Maryam herself as director. It was a small meeting limited to about forty high-ranking males. By then, the depression I had suffered for so long had lifted with the realization that others were suffering in the same way as I. Moreover, we had got used to the idea that all problems and failures stemmed from our own ideological weakness and all we had to do to remedy the fault was to write a few self-damning reports and perhaps criticize ourselves in front of others. God forbid we should find the organization at fault! This was the organization that encouraged us and gave us everything we needed, an organization with a long history, martyrs, principles �To oppose it meant opposing the struggle against the regime and against injustice, forgetting our love for our people, our country and even God; and denying our own sacrifices and our own ability to understand, to choose and to separate right from wrong. Far easier and more bearable than losing everything in life and the afterlife all together (an expression beloved of Masoud) was to confess oneself happily to be a sinner. I was therefore impatiently looking forward to criticizing myself as harshly as possible and making myself more black-faced than anybody else. Black faced or rosiah; meant showing our real self to others, asking for help to get rid of our old-self. Boiled in the pot From the very start of the meeting, I had my right hand raised to signal my wish to speak. Maryam ignored it for long enough to allow me to listen to others and pick up some clues on what to say. Far from learning from others experiences, I didn t even benefit from my own. I should have known by then that the art of self-criticism was to do it stage by stage, to show an ever-deepening understanding. Otherwise the organization would continue to ask for more and more self-revelations and by then one would have nothing significant left to offer. I had the unwise habit of tearing into myself, all at once and without reservation, with every self-criticism I could think of. Maryam called on me but before allowing me to speak she asked if anybody had anything against me. I assumed this was done to help me, as I was the most inexperienced person there. Others who had spoken had been interrupted and heckled from all sides, with worse criticism than the speaker himself was offering. Strangely, when it came to me, although almost all my previous masouls and brothers with whom I had worked were there, nobody could adduce any major allegation against me. One brother said, To be honest, I have worked with Masoud for several years, but when I think carefully I find I have not got much to say against him; as matter of fact, I can say many good things about him. Unlike many brothers in America, he was usually very accurate, calm, punctual, patient, hard-working He always wore a smile and he seemed actively to welcome new difficulties and challenges. None of us eve