Monday, March 1, 2021

Dissidents’ families targeted

The mullahs Ministry Of Intelligence Services(MOIS) routinely harasses and intimidates dissidents outside Iran by exerting pressure on their families inside the country. In most cases, the MOIS compels the families to contact their children abroad to urge them to discontinue their anti-regime activities and refrain from supporting the PMOI or the NCRI. In other cases, the MOIS has arrested families of exiled Iranians to force them to take a position against the Resistance or collaborate with the regime.

In one example in 1995, MOIS officials approached the parents of Mr. Abbas Minachi, a veteran PMOI member, and claimed he had been imprisoned by the organization. In a statement that was distributed as a United Nations documents at the Sub-commission for Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities at the time, Pax Christi wrote, “The Intelligence Ministry and an Iranian diplomat in Paris contacted Mr. Abbas Minachi’s family and told them that their son was imprisoned by the Mojahedin. By this, they made Mr. Minachi’s parents to write to Prof. Copithorne, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations and express their concern.”

Ultimately, Mr. Minachi came to Europe and contacted his father who was in the United States at the time to assure him of his well-being. He also met Prof. Copithorne in Geneva, unmasked the mullahs’ ploys, and later wrote a letter to human rights organizations concerning the MOIS propaganda.

The United Nations Sub-Commission for Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities issued a resolution on August 16, 1996, expressing profound concern over “increasing harassment and persecution of families of Iranian exiles living under Islamic Republic and pressures imposed by undercover government terrorists against Iranians residing abroad aiming to force them to cooperate with activities against dissidents in exile.”

The same year, the Washington Times wrote, “The organized campaign adjacent the exiles in Western Europe emanates from the Iranian Embassy in Bonn and is under the direction of a diplomat by the name of Vahidi Attain. Some 15,000 Iranian expatriates live in Germany….The Iranian Parliament ratified legislation two years ago legalizing punitive actions of overseas dissidents ‘who conspire against Islam.’ ”

Since the war in Iraq in 2003, the MOIS has stepped up its harassment of PMOI members’ relatives in Iran. It has forced a number of PMOI families, especially elderly parents, to demonstrate outside embassies in Tehran, such as the Swiss embassy (U.S. Interest Section), the British embassy, the United Nations Development Office, etc. These actions were intended to propagate the notion that PMOI members were being held in Iraq against their will and must be returned to Iran.

The MOIS has set up a fake association, the so-called ‘Salvation Association’ (Nejat)to ostensibly help the families and promised them that they could see their children. Through Nejat, the MOIS tried to send PMOI relatives to Camp Ashraf in Iraq as a ploy to woo PMOI members to return to Iran.  On several occasions, these families were brought to Iraq by bus, and Iranian embassy employees handed the families placards with anti-Mojahedin slogans in Arabic and English and took them to Camp Ashraf. A camera crew from Iran’s state-run television was accompanying the families on each occasion.

Once informed by the PMOI representatives that they would welcome such visits, the families met privately with their loved ones and exposed the MOIS plot to use them as propaganda pawns against the PMOI.

The PMOI issued several statements since then and declared its readiness to make the necessary arrangements for these families to meet their children. It also emphasized that the gates of PMOI camps were open to the families and they could meet their relatives and children without any hindrance. Subsequently, the families stayed at Camp Ashraf for several days and met their relatives. Throughout the years 2003, 2004, and 2005 tens of thousands of Iranians, many of them PMOI members’ relatives, came from Iran and visited their loved ones in Ashraf.