The article, entitled “Defectors Tell of Torture and Forced Sterilization in Militant Iranian Cult”, contains numerous smears that have been lobbed at the MEK for decades by the Iranian regime and their apologists.
Colonel Wes Martin, who served as Base Commander for the MEK’s Camp Ashraf in Iraq from 2006, wrote a response to the horrific false claims on Iran News Update on March 31.
Martin, who was assigned during the US-Iraq war to protect the 3,800 MEK members living in Iraq at the time who were designated as protected persons under the Geneva Convention, worked closely with active and former MEK members, as well as the soldiers assigned to their protection detail. He was privy to intelligence relating to the MEK’s activities, as well as those of US soldiers
Here we will look at what he had to say about the fake claims of abuse by US soldiers.
The article claimed that US soldiers abused MEK members who wanted to leave the group, but this could not be further from the truth.
Martin says that the US soldiers actually built a Temporary Internment and Protection Facility (TIPF) for any MEK members who wanted to leave. Roughly 190 MEK members chose to leave and the US army worked very hard to attempt to relocate them.
However, the relocation process was hard and many of the male members of the TIPF became frustrated and uncooperative, so their work privileges were revoked and they were not allowed to eat with American soldiers anymore. (This doesn’t qualify as abuse or torture, which is how the article describes it.)
The women of the TIPH, who were housed in a separate unit, did not become uncooperative so, Martin said, they retained their privileges and were treated with the utmost respect.
He further said that he never received reports of abuse or harassment while he was at the MEK camp, noting that even the Intercept article contained a picture of MEK defectors cheering with an American officer.
He wrote: “If the claim was true, this picture would have been impossible.”
In his article, Martin also decried the 2009 RAND Report as “baseless” and “politically-motivated”, saying it didn’t even contain half-truths.
He wrote: “Never during my or any other officer’s tenure at [the MEK camp] were there any reports of abuse, deprivation, forced labor and other allegations that appeared in that report. While this report was being researched, I was frequently at the State Department serving as an advisor on both Iraq and Ashraf issues. Not once did State Department representatives mention the report’s in-progress information being developed.”
He continued: “Instead, the US State Department only oriented the attention of the RAND Report’s sole author to detractors of the [MEK]. The RAND Study only served as a tool for State Department employees who were determined to undermine the credibility, and even the Protected person status, of MEK Iran members.”