200 Mujahedin, disappointed by their MEK organization, have left the camp, undocumented, with no economic assistance or any refugee status.
Top Channel’s investigative show “Fiks Fare” has met some of these people who shed light on what is really happening in the camp.
Albania has sheltered 3000 Iranian mujahedin from March 2013 to September 2016, who arrived from the “Freedom” camp in Iraq.
In September 2014, Prime Minister Rama met with the US State Secretary, John Kerry, at the Wales NATO Summit, discussing to take even more. The discussions continued in April 2015 between Minister Bushati and Secretary Kerry.
It was decided that the Iranian Mujahedin would live in a special camp built by the Albanian government in cooperation with the UNHCR. Initially, the Mujahedin were sheltered in two Kashar areas.
They were seen united for the first time in March 2017, when the 3000 members had organized a super reception, under total secrecy, to celebrate the Persian New Year, known as Novruz.
The leader of the Organization, Maryam Rajavi, who lives in France, stayed for several days in Albania during these celebrations and met not only with her supporters but also with several Albanian politicians.
On October 2017, the National Council for Territory approved the construction permit or the camp in Manza.
The MEK organization is an Iranian opposition group formed in 1965 by a group of left-wing students, with the purpose to bring down the regime of the Shah. After the Shah was brought down, there was another conflict, this time between the Mujahedin and the fundamentalists of Ajatollah Kjomeini, who took power in Iran.
Many supporters left Iran by the end of 1981, mostly getting shelter in France. In 1986, the movement moved its HQ in Iraq. US Forces attacked their bases, but they reached an agreement after being disarmed. It was then decided to keep them in Ashraf, the former Iraqi military base.
But after the US troops left Ashraf in 2011, violent acts were registered between them and the Iraqi army. On the same year, they moved to the Freedom Camp, outside Baghdad. Because their lives were no longer safe, it was decided to move them to other countries, one of which was Albania.
Top Channel’s Fiks Fare has contacted three of the 200 members who left the camp. They confirm that the Mujahedin sheltered in Manza are military men, very well trained for war.
They say that the rules are very strict inside the camp, they aren’t even allowed to communicate with the families. Today they live in the houses paid by UNHCR, but very soon they will have nowhere to go. They don’t have identification documents, emigration status or anything else.
Salada Sefi, former MEK member, born in 1969, said for Fiks Fare that when he was living in Iran, he was facing many problems, especially economic ones. He heard on the radio, the propaganda station owned by MEK, saying that they had many bases in other countries, even in Turkey, preparing to fight for Iran. So he decided to go to the Turkish base.
Once in the Turkish base, Salafa heard everyone talking about freedom all the time, but he says he soon understood it was a lie. “They are a scary organization and they have many agents who dictate your life. You have to do what they tell you. I went there on my free will but they forced me to do things. There was ideological teaching all the time. We shouldn’t create families. We should obey the leader, etc”, he says.
Salada Sefi says that when he was in Iraq, he was unable to leave the camp because he had nowhere to go. Once he arrived in Albania, he left the organization and has received assistance from his mujahedin friends and family members who have sent him money.
His rent is paid by UNHCR and there is a food package every month, but not for very long, In Iraq, he says, they kept people inside the camp by force, as if it was a prison, but they cannot do it here in Albania. However, they apply other rules to make it difficult for them to leave the camp, such as removing the right to get an emigration status or a job.
“I want to leave Albania, but your Interior Ministry has not given us any document to leave, or at least any chance to live here normally. I have tried to apply for residence documents, but your government says they have lost my application. At least they should let our families come here and help us”, Sefi says.
Another member, Hasan Bidi, says that MEK used to give information about Iran to Iraq and Saudi Arabia when Iraq was led by Saddam Hussein. He has no family because it was forbidden by the organization. He considers himself a victim of the organization for the past 15 years because he has never been allowed to contact his family.
Hasan says he joined MEK when he was 24, is a strong supporter, but once he understood they were lying and that they were a terror group, he stopped cooperating with them. Instead, he started working as a mechanic, until they brought people telling him that they had information that the Iranian government would arrest him if he didn’t leave Iran and join MEK. So he had travelled to Turkey, without any document.
Hasan says he was lied to by MEK, being told that he would be sent to European countries, but instead, he had been living in camps, from Turkey, Iraq and now in Albania. Inside the camp, according to Hasan, there’s no difference from prison. They have lived armed, divided into groups, taking ideology lessons on a daily basis. He is waiting for an Albanian ID card and passport, which is still under process,
Hasan says that the organization ordered them to enter Iran in small groups and place bombs, creating attacks. “We have been taught by the organization how to use guns and how to kill people. Many of the people you see here are not humans, but war machines”, Hasan says.
Manucer Habdi, another member who left the organization, says that he has been part of the organization for 13 years. He joined MEK to realize his political dreams for a better Iran, but later he learned that this was, in fact, a sect, where they were not allowed to contact the outer world or the families until he was brought to Albania.
When he was in Iraq he had not been allowed to contact even his daughter. The camp that is being built in Albania, according to him, will be similar to the one in Iraq, as regards rules. Inside MEK, he says he was part of a group that made live military training to Iranian youth through Skype, but they weren’t allowed to use internet for their families.
Manucer says that the leader of MEK, Maryam Rajavi, who lives in France, visits Albania very frequently and holds speeches. In these speeches, she considers the ones who have left the organization as traitors who need to be killed, according to Manucer.
He has been living in the apartment paid by UNHCR, but his family cannot help him financially. He has no refugee status, no permit of residence in Albania, and he also considers himself a victim of this organization.