Thirty years looking back at the children of the Iranian resistance

In the early 1990s, they separated from their parents and fled to Western countries. Now the children of the Iranian Resistance Movement, the People’s Mujahedeen, are watching the demonstrations in the country with mixed feelings.

Somaja Gemini

Al-Nabi Abdullah, 38, came to the Netherlands at the age of seven with his brother. He studied economics at Wageningen University and works as a consultant and director at Alliander.

“Someone should dare to take power for once. In Iran, that power lies in a small group of men who kill any dissenting voice. Our fathers tried to overthrow this regime. They jumped at the deep end, and they actually organized underground shortly after the The Islamic Revolution. That’s what I read about it. They were students who decided, at the cost of their lives, to defend others. They failed. But if no one had tried before, who would take it?”

“In my early memory we are in Iraq. The country where the resistance group of our fathers set up camp. From there they fought for democracy and equal rights in Iran. That is what I have always known. I see myself playing, among the strict square blocks of houses. I was about six years old. I have fond memories of my father, he was my support.I can imagine him in his military clothes, in some sort of red lettering jeep on the back.

I don’t remember my mother. I got a box on her behalf somewhere when I was a teenager. With a handwritten letter and a picture. Many years later I heard she was killed in an attack on the camp. I don’t even know her name. I realize how stupid it is, I don’t feel the need to know her name.”

“In the middle of the 1991 Gulf War, now over 30 years ago, we were put on the bus and me and my sister and my sister and I were. Like many kids. It was very unsafe for the kids and in the middle of the night we left for another country. My brother and I ended up in Holland, and my sister is in Belgium. I only met her again when I was in college.”

“As safe as it sounds, you can’t completely trust anyone”

“In Holland, my brother and I greeted a woman with four daughters. She neglected us so much. As a boy, I had toilet problems, probably because of stress and anxiety. They just left me in my pee pants. I went into survival mode. That was tough Too: Because I was always hungry, I started stealing food.Or looking for leftovers on the street.

It was all bad, but I still find it hard that I didn’t care about my brother at the time. I still think this fact is terrible. Who defended this little man? ”

“Since the age of ten we have been received by a loving foster Dutch family with three children. It was a big and fun family in a small village in Twente. However, we were not really a part of it. For example, they sometimes went on vacation as a family and we were not allowed to go with them. During an argument With my adopted brother, whom I love very much, he once exclaimed: “My parents say we will always be better than you!” It fed my faith: No matter how safe it may seem, you can never completely trust anyone.

“While my father was fighting for freedom, I had to stand up against racism in our white village. There was very little exposure to the outside world there, other than filtered ideas about colonialism: that blacks are stupid and lazy. I was called a ‘nigger’ and a ‘Turk stink’.” That racism had a profound effect on my life. I denied my background for a long time. I didn’t want to be associated with terrorism, Islam or resistance.”

“My parents were not allowed to talk about them. I had no contact with my parents and could not access my family history. My adoptive parents had heard stories of alleged kidnappings of children by Mujahideen and wanted to protect their children too. There was a time when I carried a knife every day for this the reason “.

“I don’t feel the need to get to know my father”

“It is very hard for me to reconcile when people come to a party for a holiday or other luxury dilemmas, when there are people in the same world who sacrifice their lives for freedom and exploitation. Why don’t we talk about this injustice? Maybe I got this approach from My father “.

“No matter how much pain and sorrow I bear, I believe sacrifices are inevitable for freedom. This is happening now also in Iran. We hope that the people there will have enough stamina to make a change. At the same time, history shows: The process of democratization takes hundreds of years. While I admire my parents’ choice now, I feel no connection to their struggle. I don’t feel much at all about the protests taking place in Iran myself, while I was in tears when Ukraine was invaded. Maybe things went too fast, maybe I’m boring Or too busy with other things.”

“My father has since left the mujahideen and fled to the UK. My feelings for him are mixed. I think it’s great that he stood up to injustice, but I don’t feel the need to get to know him. While studying in the US I visited someone who lives there. I can also get more from him. The information about my history. I think it’s pretty weird myself, but I’m not curious about it.”

“A year and a half ago, I sailed to Norway on my own and wrote a book about my past along the way. Now that I’ve taken the boat trip and really stepped back, I know two worlds can exist side by side. A bright, happy world and a brutal, unjust world that the brave resist. I think the price I paid. On the other hand, it makes sense.”

Ida, 40, came to the Netherlands in 1991 when she was eight years old. She studied psychology and worked in the field of science. She is married to a Dutch man and has two children. For security reasons, she shares her story anonymously.

Two weeks ago, during a statement in support of demonstrations in Iran, I was in Dam Square with my son. I took him with me so he could get a glimpse of what’s happening in Iran right now. Large-scale demonstrations where people, women and young people put their lives on the line again and again for freedom and equality between women and men. We didn’t stay long. Because the demonstrations are contradictory to me. Forty years ago they were the powder of the revolution that became everything in my life.

I am now proud of the fact that I am Iranian and sympathize with the people there. But this has nothing to do with my father. I never talk about them. I do not understand their struggle. How do you randomly put your child on a plane? As an educator, how can you put your ideal above the safety and care of your child? As a result of this choice, no one raised me. Without parental figures in my life, without knowing where I came from and why it turned out this way.”

Nine foster families and four shelters

“I grew up with a strong belief that I don’t belong anywhere. I lived the first three years of my life with a family in Iran. My parents left me with my family as a baby to join the resistance. I saw them again when I was three, but I mostly lived with Other families. I have very few memories of my parents, they were always at work. We were never a family.”

“I once lived in the Netherlands in nine foster families and four youth institutions. His years in foster care were lonely and full of rejection. I kept hoping I could stay and sometimes I was promised, but I kept having to leave. It was so sad. I cut myself off from All Iranian and about the idea that I have parents in the first place. I did it to survive. I didn’t get anything from my culture, and I couldn’t speak my mother tongue anymore. I also learned to follow my own path, and after all, it turned out to me that the adjustment was useless.”

“I found my years in youth and crisis shelters liberating, although of course they were complex places with many problems. There were also people who had difficulties in their work in society. The rules of survival were clear and not about love. I was no longer disappointed. And I got to know First on people with similar stories. I made my first friends there. That was the beginning of a new life.”

I did not want anything to do with the resistance movement, although they tried to connect in various ways. That’s why I’ve always lived at secret addresses and why I don’t want to be associated with them. This is one of the reasons why I did not want to have my name published in the newspaper. When I was a kid I found the organization intimidating.”

“I have two pictures of myself when I was a kid”

I am Dutch with Iranian blood. This is the country and culture that I know. I am now very happy and have a stable and nice family life. When I became a mother, I suddenly felt the need to learn more about Iran and my family there. I only have two pictures of myself when I was a little girl. I don’t know if I look like my kids as a little girl. I don’t know anything about my family, their names, and where they live. I think I owe the first years of my life with them that I am now firmly in life. It makes me curious about them and about the country I come from with its ancient culture, love of poetry and delicious cuisine.”

“The children of the resistance had no choice. I am the son of a controversial organization that many Iranians do not trust. But that does not mean that I am not affected by what is happening in Iran now. It is also my country.

What is happening now is pushing me to learn Persian so that I can follow the news and messages from Iran myself. I think the most beautiful word Omidwaraam: I am optimistic. At the same time with my children, a big dream was born that I would go with them to Iran. In recent years I’ve often thought: This will never happen. With the current uprisings, however sad they may be, a little lantern of hope lit me up. There is a light that says, ‘Maybe this time it will work and we can get back together.

Ida’s identity is known to the editors.

Mujahideen my character

The Islamic Marxist People’s Mojahedin Movement, also known as the PMOI, was founded in 1965 by a group of intellectuals who opposed Shah Reza Pahlavi’s rule. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the group turned against the fundamentalist regime of Ayatollah Khomeini. As a result of the brutal repression that followed (including a fatwa by Supreme Leader Khomeini inciting the killing of his sympathizers), thousands of supporters and their families fled to Iraq. With the support of Saddam Hussein, the leaders of Camp Ashraf waged an armed struggle to impose democracy in Iran. Because of the extremist activities and cult surrounding the MEK leaders, the resistance ended up on the list of terrorist organizations.

During the Gulf War in the early 1990s, the marriages of MEK members were dissolved, and the children were separated from their parents and placed in a foster home in Europe, the United States, and Canada. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the group was disarmed and placed under surveillance. In 2009 and 2012, respectively, the European Union and the United States removed the group from the list of terrorist organizations. Since 2013, the group’s headquarters is located in Albania.

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