Cult of the Chameleon (4)

We had to use the capsules in case we got arrested by the Iranian regime. We had to break the glass, scratch our tongues with it and within a few seconds commit suicide, so we couldn't reveal any organizational secrets to our captors.

Marjan Malek (former MEK member): The MEK are masters of human psychology. When they meet someone they spot that person's weak points. They talked to me and they realized that I had many problems with my ex-husband who used to beat me. So they started talking about women's rights and the equality between men and women, in order to attract me for the organization.

Narrator: Marjan was born into a working class family in Tehran. She was not politically active and simply left Iran with her family to find a better life in Europe. When the MEK operatives first approached Marjan in Holland, her asylum application had just been rejected. The MEK helped her successfully appeal the Dutch government's decision and in so doing, gained a new recruit for the organization. By the time Marjan joined the MEK, Rajavi was using even more personal measures to control his followers.

Marjan Malek: Sometimes Massoud Rajavi had general meetings with women and never allowed men to enter the session. I remember in one of those meetings he gave us brushes, combs and hairclips as a gift. But before giving them to us he used them on his own hair first. Or in another session, he gave women Terrycloth robes as a gift. Again he put them on first and walked around the stage a little bit before giving robes to the women.

Narrator: In 1998, Marjan was chosen to be a member of an all women sabotage team sent into Iran.

Marjan Malek: Before leaving for operations in Iran, I had training in camp Ashraf on how to hold cyanide capsules under my tongue. We had to use the capsules in case we got arrested by the Iranian regime. We had to break the glass, scratch our tongues with it and within a few seconds commit suicide, so we couldn't reveal any organizational secrets to our captors. In order to practice, we put two small date pits under our tongues. I hope I can remember how to do it - good - I still remember. We had to hold the pits for days under our tongues to practice, and the pits are really hard. I am sorry, can I throw these out?

Narrator: After a failed attack on an army base in Tehran, Marjan was captured in a restaurant just as she was taking out the cyanide capsules so she could eat. The MEK thought that she succeeded in committing suicide. Rajavi called her a martyr . . . a shining emerald in the sea of love who reached the highest levels of dignity and glory.

Marjan Malek: When they arrested me I thought of nothing else but Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. I didn't think of getting killed, tortured or whatever else might be about to happen to me. My only thought was that I disappointed Massoud and Maryam Rajavi.

Narrator: Soon after her arrest, Marjan publicly denounced the MEK. At a press conference, she told reporters that while in prison she had time to question Rajavi's policies and his cult of personality. Marjan came to realise that terrorism and collaboration with Saddam had made Rajavi a hatred figure in Iran. She also experienced the new attitude that the Iranian government took towards the MEK prisoners.

Marjan Malek: the Iranian regime has realized that if they treat the MEK as cult members and not criminals, there will not be bad blood between them and the victims’ families, so there would not be any reason for revenge.

Narrator: Soon after leaving the MEK, Marjan opted for normal life. She married another MEK dissident and they now live in the Netherlands with Marjan's two daughters from her former husband.

Cult of the Chameleon (3)



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