After Albanian police raided a camp for members of the exiled Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq on Tuesday, France also canceled the group’s annual meeting in Paris.
This Tuesday morning, the police of Albanian attacked a camp that belonged to the exiled Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, leaving a number of the MEK members injured and confiscating 150 computer devices that the police said were linked to banned political activities. The Ashraf-3 camp was located near Manze, a small hill town about 20 miles west of Albania’s capital, Tirana.
In a statement that was released after the operation, the Albanian Interior Minister Bledi Cuci and the head of the national police, Muhamet Rrumbullaku, said that both the Albanian police officers and Iranian dissidents were injured during the raid
Later in a separate statement that the Mujahedeen group issued, the groups spokesperson Shahin Gobadi said that one MEK member was killed by the police during the attack, a claim that the Albanian authorities denied.
The worse news for the MEK group is that Albania’s Special Structure Against Corruption and Organized Crime’s office announced last week that it has opened investigations into suspected prohibited political activities by Mujahedeen members, which if proved, it will have consequences for the anti-Iran group.
Who exactly are the Mujahedeen group?
Founded back in 1965 as a left-wing Muslim group, the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group was created to oppose the Shah of Iran and was involved in the protests that led to the downfall of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979.
The group initially endorsed the republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini and his ideal. However, after Mujahedeen’s leader Massoud Rajavi lost his place in the first presidential election, the MEK turned against Iran.
MEK members later fled into Iraq and backed dictator Saddam Hussein during his eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s, leading many people in Iran to oppose the group. In less than a year, according to Iran’s state media figures, the members of the MEK group killed more than 12 thousand Iranian civilians, including women and children, as well as dozens of high-ranking officials in Iran’s government.
Back in 2013, an agreement was signed between the government of Albania and the MEK, according to which Albania agreed to shelter Mujahedeen members. Some 2,500 Iranian exiles who initially were housed in separate locations built the Ashraf-3 camp in 2019. It consists of 127 buildings in an area of 100 acres, which is Albanian territory.
But the 2013 agreement was concluded under the condition that the MEK members must not not engage in any political activity and must abide by the country’s laws. The Albanian police now believe that the group has violated this part of the agreement.
France also discarded the MEK group
The Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is the political arm of the Mujahideen Organization, has held frequent rallies in the French capital over the years, often attended by high-profile former U.S., European and Arab officials critical of the Islamic Republic. In February, the NCRI attracted several thousand people to the event in central Paris, and was planning its annual rally on this coming July 1.
However, only a few hours after the Albanian police raided the MEK camp in Tirana, Paris police chief Laurent Nunez sent a letter to the NCRI office in Paris and informed the group that their meeting, organized every year since 2008, “cannot be held as it could generate disturbances to public order due to the geopolitical context.”