PC/2/2001 IN THE PROSCRIBED ORGANISATIONS APPEAL COMMISSION BETWEEN (1) The People's Mpjahedin Organisation of Iran

(2)

Hossein Abedini Appellants - and.1..

Secretary of State for the Home Department Respondent SECOND WITNESS STATEMENT OF MOHAMMAD MOHADDESSIN

1.

I make this supplementary

witness

statement

in response

to the

evidence served by the Secretary of State on 1 October 2002, which includes the open witness statement of A ("A's statement") and

supporting documents. In making this statement I have also reviewed again the Open Statement of Evidence submitted by the Secretary of State for the Home Department reproduced statement. (with references ("the Open Statement") at paragraph which is

to documents)

9 of A's

2.

This statement is set out in the following way:

Sections Position ofthe appellants 'Quality of Secretary of State's evidence in reply Sources relied upon by Secretary of State Factors in decision to proscribe the PMOI Political context of decision to proscribe PMOI Dissemination of propaganda by Iranian regime

Paragra!;2hs

Pages

3 -15 16 -18 19- 58 59-62 63-93 94 -181

2-5 5 6 - 17 17 - 18 18 - 28 29 - 53

1

II
Relationship between PMOI and Iraq Alleged acts of terrorism PMOI and NLA not "separate" Attacks on Western interests in 1970s Aims of the PMOI Position of the PMOI in the USA Disproportionate effect Concluding remarks 182 - 202 203 - 319 320 - 323 324 - 364 365 - 368 369 - 371 372 - 374 375 53 - 59 59 - 90 91 91-101 101-2 103 104 104-6

-0387

The position of the appellants

s:

3.

I wish to make. clear at the outset that the allegations made against the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) regarding the causing of civilian casualties, the ill-treatment of PMOI members and prisoners of war, as well as the nature of the organisation are untrue, and I

maintain my respectful contention that the PMOI should not have been proscribed.
0

4.

The PMOI is a democratic organisation, with a wide following amongst Iranians, both inside Iran and around the world, and amongst nonIranians who have become familiar with the PMOI's aims and work. This is clear .from the many demonstrations organised by Iranians all over

the world, during the last 20 years, both in support of the PMOI and against the Iranian clerical regime. These demonstrations have been

attended by thousands of Iranians (see for instance paragraph 247 of my previous statement which mentions only of many rallies).

5.

In my view, one of the key factors demonstrating the democratic nature of the PMOI is the significant participation of women at all levels in this organisation. under Women as a group have suffered clerical regime. particularly harshly

Khomeini

and the

I respectfully

refer the.

Commission to pages 147 -148

of "Democracy Betrayed" at Tab 1 to my previous

(Bundle A). Extracts of this book were appended

statement at Tab 3 (Bundle A), but I attach a copy of the whole book to this statement. I wish to highlight in particular comments by Dr Joyce 2

Starr of the US Center for Strategic and International Studies, who said the following:

"I don't know of any other example in history where a

resistance group has been so bolstered by the participation of women"
(quoted on page 147 of "Democracy Betrayed").

6.

The PMOI is also a legitimate engaged extremely in a legitimate oppressive

resistance

movement.

The PMOI is of an

struggle The

to achieve PMOI

the, overthrow

regime.

is also part of a wider

movement that is seeking the overthrow of the current Iranian regime.
.I.,

7.

The Iranian clerical regime is a regime which has committed countless crimes against humanity on its own citizens, which has committed and/or sponsored numerous acts of terrorism around the world. It

maintains itself in power through fear, repression and the denial of basic democratic freedoms.

8.

The aim of the PMOI is to achieve democracy and respect for universal human rights and freedoms in Iran.

9.

Although the PMOI acknowledges

that it took up arms as part of its

legitimate struggle, I wish to stress that this was an option of last resort for the .orqanfsation. The PMOI only
,',

pursued this course when all

avenues' of peaceful protest against the Iranian clerical regime were
,'i·.···

blocked off, and when its very existence as a political organisation was prevented by the Iranian clerical regime. The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights speaks of having "recourse as a last resort to rebellion against tyranny and oppression", and it is in this context that the PMOI's decision to take up arms should be viewed.

10.

I have already explained how the PMOI came to take up arms, but I wish to remind the Commission of the following factors: the vetoing of Mr Rajavi's excluding candidacy in the 1979 presidential elections, thereby ,

the PMOI from

participation

in the elections,

the brutal

response by the regime to the June 1981 peaceful protest, as well as the massacre in 1988 of 30,000 members of the PMOI (see paragraphs 3

34 - 38, 51 - 58 and 122 - 126 of my 'previous statement). I would also respectfully refer the Commission to the remarks of Prof Zonis, quoted - . on page 40 of "Democracy Betrayed" at Tab 1 - Bundle A).

11.

The

Iranian clerical

regime

is well-known

around

the world as a

repressive regime, which stifles freedom of speech and other human rights and freedoms, and where torture and barbarism towards citizens has the sanction of the state, or indeed is actively promoted by it. Dissent is not permitted in Iran, and to express dissent is to invite dire consequences from the state. This is a regime that for a long time has, been an international pariah, yet has not ceased its violations of human rights to this day. Indeed; I would speculate that if Iran did not border
\

Iraq, it would be more isolated among the international community.

12.

The PMOI's position has consistently been, since it was forced to take up arms, that it would cease all its operations elections were held under international if truly free and fair in Iran (see

supervision

paragraph 115 of my previous statement).

13.

The PMOI attacks only military targets, or institutions or persons which. are directly responsible for committing crimes against humanity. The

PMOI does."not attack civilians or civilian institutions. The PMOI plans its operations very carefully so that no civilians are placed in any danger as
\

a result of its operations. The definition of a legitimate target used by the PMOI is consistent, as will be shown at paragraphs 207 - 212

below, with (and in fact narrower) than that used by NATO and in the context of other conflicts.

14.

I contend that, asa legitimate voice of dissent in Iran, the PMOI should not have been proscribed.

15.

Indeed, there are other groups, also engaged in armed struggle against repressive regimes where peaceful protest is not possible, which have not been proscribed even though they also fall within the broad

definition of terrorism in the Act. I refer here primarily to the Northern 4

Alliance

in Afghanistan,

the "Badr Corps" which

opposes

Saddam

Hussein in Iraq, as well as armed groups of Iraqi Kurds, also opposing Saddam Hussein, such as the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). I have seen the witness statement of Julia Sohrab which sets out some information about these groups.

Quality of the Secretary of State's evidence in reply

16.

I am disconcerted simply

by the brevity of A's statement, which in large part allegations already contained in the Open,

repeats" the

Statement.
t:
0

17.

A's statement scarcely responds to the detailed evidence contained in my witness statement dated 21 August 2002. A makes no comment, for instance, on the history that I have 'set out as to how peaceful protest was prevented by the regime, thereby leaving the PMOI with no option except to take up arms, nor to any of the evidence I have provided of the murder and torture of PMOI members and sympathizers over many years.

18.

I am also disappointed statement.comprise

to see that the documents translations,

attached to A's put

incorrect

and other "evidence"

forward by persons working with the Iranian clerical regime to spread
~ 0"

false information about the PMOI in Europe and the USA. I deal with this in more detail below (at paragraphs 95 - 181), but I respectfully draw the Commission's attention to. the fact that I commented on

several of the individuals whose "evidence" is referred to in A's witness statement and supporting documents in my previous witness statement. Nothing is said in the Secretary of State's evidence in reply which either challenges my comments about the unreliability of the Secretary of

State's sources or explains to the Commission why it should believe the allegations made by these individuals.

5

. The sources relied upon by the Secretary of State

19.

A's witness statement (at paragraphs placed including by the Secretary information

5 - 8) reveals that reliance is from four sources, by the US State I will

of State on material

put into the public domain

Department

and material provided by the Iranian government.

comment on the latter sources in turn. Document A3: the 1994 US State Deparlment Reporl
J..

20.
(. -_
)

First, as regards although at times

material the

produced itself

by the US State refers to

Department, from US

PMOI

evidence

government authorities, US State Department material is not always (as regards the PMOI) entirely accurate.

21.

It must be remembered that.the US has its own political agenda in its treatment of the PMOI, driven by the dictates of its foreign policy at any given time. By way of example, the Tower Commission report of 1987 shows that allegations of terrorism were first made by the US against the PMOI as a goodwill gesture towards, and following the request of, the Iranian government, as a part of a deal to secure the release of US hostages in the Lebanon (see pages 316 317 of "Democracy

Betrayed" at Tab 1 - Bundle A).

22.

A number of key allegations against the PMOI in A's witness statement draw support from document A3 (see paragraph 12).

23.

Yet this report contains numerous errors as well as distortions of simple and unambiguous facts and a selective use of sources, despite its

claims that many US government agencies participated in its writing, as well as a range of Iranian opposition groups, US academic specialists, experts in non-governmental organisations and think-tanks, and the

PMOl's own publications from the 1960s to October 1994. I respectfully refer the Commission to chapters 1 - 4 of "Democracy Betrayed" (at

6

Tab 1 - Bundle A) which contain a detailed refutation of the errors in this report.

24.

While

I do not seek to repeat Betrayed",

the

arguments

already

made

in

"Democracy

I do consider that it is useful to highlight a

number of issues relating to this report, which show, at the very least, that its contents must be treated with caution and must be considered within its own particular political context.

25.

The first important report's publication,

issue to note in this respect is that prior to the., there had been calls, both from Congress and

t

echoed in the US press, to engage in a dialogue with the PMOI (see
I

pages 23 - 32 of "Democracy Betrayed" at Tab 1 - Bundle A). I make a few points here.

26.

On 21 September 1994 two Congressmen announced that a bipartisan coalition in Congress, consisting of 98 representatives, Secretary of State Warren Christopher to ensure had called on

that a fair and

comprehensive PMOI in the

report on the PMOI be compiled, which consulted the preparation of this report (see pages 23 25 of

"Democracy Betrayed").

27.
(

In the press, an editorial in "The New York Times" said the following: "In dealing with a dictatorship, it is simple prudence to listen to its critics. This has not been US policy in dealing with Iran's clerical tyranny. The State Department has shunned all contact with a key opposition group, the People's Mujaheddin, loudly denounced ·by Iran". which also happens to be the group most

This editorial went on to say that:

"It is especially distasteful that this boycott is treated as a victory by Iranian mullahs" (see page 26 of "Democracy Betrayed")

7

· 28.

The second

important

issue to note is that when this report was

published, it was severely criticised by the US Congress as well as in the US media (again this is set out in detail at pages 37 - 44 of "Democracy Betrayed"). It was felt that the report was "biased" and had not fulfilled the brief from Congress, which was to give an accurate and balanced picture of the·· PMOI (see pages 37 - 38 of "Democracy

Betrayed"). These concerns were echoed in media comment at the time, and I set out below two quotes from the US press.

29.

On 31 October 1Q94 the "New York Times" reported the following:

.I..

'The State Department

upset many members of Congress today by

issuing a scathing report about a prominent Iranian opposition group without meeting with officials from the group, as more than 100

lawmakers had asked it to do... Many members of Congress support contact; arguing that they can speed the demise of Iran's religious government" (see pages 38 - 39 of "Democracy Betrayed" and Tab 55 - Bundle B)

30.

On the same day the "Washington Dept. Report Denouncing the following:

Post", in an article entitled "State

Iranian Rebel Group Is Criticized", reported

"None

ot the

report's scathing assessments of the Mujaheddin came as

a surprise. Mujaheddin representatives here surmised weeks ago what
the State Department ·would say, and they published

a detailed

response in advance ... To some extent they succeeded in preemptively raising questions about the report's value by complaining publicly that the State Depertmeni refused to talk to them as part of its research .... Reps. Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY), Robert G. Torricelli (D-NJ) and Dan Burton (R-IN), all senior members of the House- Foreign criticizing the Affairs . State

committee,

issued

statements

yesterday

Department and the report" (see page 39 of "Democracy Betrayed" and Tab 56 - Bundle B)

8

31.

The third issue worth noting is the reaction of the Iranian regime to the report's publication. The regime welcomed the report's contents (see chapter 4 of "Democracy Betrayed"). Further, drawing strength from its contents, publication, and convinced that the US would not react, shortly after Iran fired three outlawed Scud missiles on a Resistance

base on 6 November 1994. A report by "Reuters news agency on this attack said the following:

"The United States says the Mujahideen Iranian opposition gr~up,

Khalq are not an important flare-up in the struggle."

but this week's

between them and Iran's rulers suggests Tehran does not share that
(

view .., The Deparlment,

latest

violence

came

just

days

after

the .US State

in a long-awaited

report, concluded that the Mujahideen of lren'" (see

'are not a viable alternative to the current government page 39 of "Democracy Betrayed" and Tab 57 - Bundle B)

I also refer to comment in "The Houston Post" on 23 November 1994: that a Stete. Department

"It is possible

action

had the effect

of

precipitating the Nov. 6 attack. Five days earlier, the State Oeparlment had issued a report scathingly denouncing the mujahideen as a terrorist organisation with little supporl inside Iran. The official Iranian press reporl as vindication of Tehran's betile

hailed the State Department

against the resistance" (see pages 42 - 43 of "Democracy Betrayed")

Documents provided by the Iranian clerical regime

32.

Secondly, although A acknowledges

that the Iranian authorities "have

an interest" in influencing the Secretary of State's attitude to the PMOI, nevertheless reliance is placed on the particular documents referred to in A's witness statement. A gives no reason to justify the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's assessment of the reliability of the material.

9

33.

In my view, none of the information

provided by the Iranian clerical and reliably

authorities can be relied upon, unless it is independently corroborated. below.

This is for a number of reasons, which I deal with in turn

34.

First, there has been consistent

and implacable

hostility towards the

PMOI and its aims from Khomeini and his followers, and later once the Iranian clerical regime was established.

35.

I provided some background history at paragraphs 12, 16, 19 - 49 and. 122 - 129 of my previous witness statement. Over the years, that

\

hostility has not decreased,

and one its most acute moments occurred

in 1988 when some 30,000 PMOI supporters were murdered (again I have dealt with this at paragraphs 122 - 129 of my previous witness

statement, as well as briefly above at paragraph 246). Over the past two decades, around 120,000 members and supporters of the PMOI have been murdered by the Iranian clerical regime (see paragraph 129 of my previous statement). The regime's actions against its opponents do not stop at the country's borders, The Iranian regime has pursued a policy over many years of attacking PMOI bases in Iraq and in murdering PMOI members and officials abroad, as well as other Iranian dissidents living abroad).
f.o" .• )

It should therefore

be no surprise

that the regime

disseminates false information about the PMOI and seeks to discredit it around the world.

36.

Secondly, given the nature of the regime as a whole, and its persistent violations of human rights, which is discussed in more detail at

paragraphs 49 - 58 below, in my submission,

means that whatever

claims it makes (and in particular against an organisation which it has set out to destroy) should be treated with the utmost caution:

37.

Thirdly, the Iranian clerical regime has made claims about the PMOI, including accusations of murder, which it has later become clear that these were false. I respectfully refer the Commission to paragraphs 138 of my previous statement as well as Lord Avebury's book (at Tab 37 _" 10

Bundle B} which was attached to my previous statement. These deal with the murders of three Christian priests in 1993 and 1994, and the explosions at a holy shrine in Mashad. At the time the regime claimed the PMOI was responsible, and worked hard to publicise its claims as widely as possible. However, it later became clear that the regime itself was responsible for these atrocious ads. I contend that there should be a presumption that any documents or information provided by the

regime should be disregarded, be accurate.

unless it can be shown convincingly to

.I..

38.

Fourthly, there are errors in translation in some of the material provided by the regime, which present a distorted picture of the true facts. I give two examples here.

39.

A alleges that in the 'Mojahed' publication of 8 January 1980 the PMOI asserted that it had targeted US personnel since 1972. However, this article relates to statements made by Ayatollah Lahooti, which were 1979. These remarks were

published in "Ettela'at" on 25 December

from an ex-official of the regime to Revolutionary Guards. The translator of the document has translated only those remarks by Lahooti, rather . than the whole article. This gives a highly misleading account. Had the whole article been translated,
:.'1

it would be clear that this was not a

statement of the PMOI position. I will explain below that at the time PMOI members and sympathizers were being accused of being agents .of the US and CIA, see paragraphs 346 - 353.

40.

A also refers to 'Mojahed' dated 12 September

1979, in which it is '

claimed that the PMOI expressed support for the occupation of the US embassy in Tehran. Again this "evidence" is flawed (I deal with the PMOI's position in relation to the hostage taking at paragraphs 12 - 16 of my previous statement). What has been translated is only the title of. the article. Again, this is highly misleading. In fact, the article relates to a report about a demonstration in Tehran in front of the US embassy,

protecting at the interference by the US in Iranian internal affairs and the support given by the US to the Shah's regime. This demonstration 11

took place before the US embassy takeover. On this basis, I contend that A's claims cannot be made out. I would also note that those responsible for the hostage-taking now hold senior positions in

Khatami's government (see paragraph 361 below).

41.

Fifthly, there has been falsification . present wholly misleading .witness statement publications PMOl's

of PMOI documents Paragraphs

in order to

information.

11 and 56 of A's

(and document

B2) refer to clippings from PMOI to 'prove' the and mllltary.,

in the months after the 1979 revolution of US military personnel

role in the death

operations against centres affiliated with the British government in the early 1970s. The clippings, which comprise document B2, as appears from paragraph 7 of A's witness statement were provided by the Iranian authorities in August 2001.

42.

Page 8 (document 132)of the bundle attached to A's witness statement transposes the three photographs ·of the corpses of three Rockwell

employees assassinated in 1976 in Tehran onto selected clippings from PMOI publications.

43.

This is a falsification

of the PMOI's documents,

and this has clearly

been done. to imply that PMOI publications published the photographs of the Rockwell employees at the time and took responsibility for the murders.

44.

In fact, none of the photographs have anything to do with the PMOI and they were not printed in the publication in question.

45.

It is significant that the lranian Clerical regime (whether in statements from government sources or through the state-run media) is the sole in respect of the vast majority of the incidents.

source of information

where it is alleged that the PMOI caused civilian casualties, whether deliberately or incidentally (see documents A17, A19, A21, B28, A37, A41, A46, A48, B57, B58). I also contend that documents from the

British embassy in Tehran, such as A24, A30, and A43, simply repeat 12

information put out by the regime (even though it is not acknowledged within the text). Since this must, in my view, be at the core of the Secretary of State's decision to proscribe the PMOI (it being

acknowledged that the PMOI poses no threat to the UK, whether here or abroad), it is essential for the Commission to scrutinise the strength and credibility of this source of "information".

46.

Lastly, the pressure government

that the Iranian· clerical

regime

puts on this it in this
J.

to take action against groups which oppose

country has been demonstrated

again very recently. On 2 November newspaper "Khorasan"

2002 an article appeared in the state-controlled

which complained that the Secretary of State for the Home Department had not included the NCRI in the recent order seeking proscription of a further organisations (including Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf

Group) as had been hoped. I attach an extract from this article in Farsi at Tab 62 (Bundle B).

47.

Taking all of the above into account, Commission to disregard,

I would respectfully

urge the

or at the very least to treat with utmost

caution, whatever is said against the PMOI where the source is the Iranian regime itself unless it has been verified or corroborated by an independent source.

The Secretary of State does not acknowledge clerical regime

the true nature of the Iranian

48.

It is surprising that the Secretary .of State's evidence in reply does not comment on the detailed information provided about the nature of the clerical regime in Iran and the crimes it commits. There is no recognition·· in the Secretary of State's evidence in reply that the present Iranian regime is not a democratic government.

49.

There is also no recognition of the political context in which the PMOI carries out its activities: a lack of basic democratic freedoms, such as the right to freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly, the 13

imprisonment,

torture and murder of its members and supporters, as

well as a climate of fear in the wider society. Without an understanding of the context in which the PMOI are struggling for democracy in Iran, it is not possible to evaluate its activities.

50.

It is noteworthy that the Home Office, in its country assessment on Iran (dated October 2002), which is produced as "background" for "those involved in the asylum/human riqhts. determination process", makes a

number of comments that acknowledge the context in which I say the PMOI has operated, and continues to operate, in Iran ("the Home Office .... country assessment on Iran"). I refer to a number of points made about Iran in this country assessment at Tab 2 - BundleA). below (extracts of this assessment are

51.

Overall human rights: paragraph 5.4 notes the following: governing etrest.Betentlon systematic human rights

"procedures

and trial are rarely made public. Reports of abuses include extrajudicial killings and

summary executions;

disappearances;

widespread use of torture and

other degrading treatment; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of due process; unfair trials; infringement on citizens'

privacy; and restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly, association, religion and movement".

52.

Freedom of speech and control of the press: paragraph 5.14 says that in practice the government does restrict freedom of speech and the

press. The report goes on that: 'The Government exerts control over the media broadcasting by methods networks such and as controlling access to television It and radio owns all

newsprint.

broadcasting facilities". The regime acts against newspapers (whether by temporary banning or closure) where they are unhappy with what is being printed. Paragraphs 5.25, 5.27 and 5.28 give examples of where this has occurred. Paragraph 5.30 notes the following: "By years end [2001] at least five journalists journalistic were in jail on charges related to their to court,

work, while dozens more had been summoned

14

were appealing

pending

prison

sentences,

or had been fined and

barred from practising

their profession.

On 11 August 2002 it was

reported by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance that 85 publications had been banned since March 1998" (emphasis added). At paragraph 5.21 the report notes that: "Offending writers are often

subject to trial, with fines, suspension from journalist activities, lashings, and imprisonment being common punishments if found guilty of

offences ranging from propaganda

against the State to insulting the

leadership of the Islamic Republic". At paragraph 5.38 the report notes: "television and radio and remained largely confiscated in the hands reflected some its of the conservative'!' views .. .In late

establishment

October ... authorities

1,000 [satellite]

dishes and

arrested several dish owners.

The dish crackdown

was an apparent

state response to provocative broadcasts by satellite channels affiliated with secular Iranian opposition groups based in the United States ... In May 2002 it was reported by the authorities in Tehran province that amongst other things they had confiscated 11, 191 satellite dishes".

53.

Freedom

of expression:

paragraph

5.8 says that

although

some

progress is being made as regards freedom of expression, this faces considerable opposition, including violent tactics used by hard-line

elements opposed to change, within the security forces (including the
\

... :. 54.

Revolutionary Guards' Corps )and outside.

Freedom although

of assembly the Iranian

and association: Constitution allows

paragraph assemblies

5.77 notes that and marches

providing they do not violate the principles of Islam, in practice "tne government restricts freedom of assembly. There have been reports up by the armed

that demonstrations

and riots have been broken

security and anti-riot forces, resulting in deaths and arrests". Paragraph 5.78 goes on to say the following: announced government policy "There is conflict between of expression the

on freedom

and the

activities of some of the judiciary and security services, as well as the extra-judicial groups such as Ansar-e-Hezbollah".

15

55.

The regime's attitude towards dissent: paragraph 5.161 explains that the Constitution provides for the establishment of political parties and

professional associations as long as they do not violate the principles of "freedom, sovereignty and national unity" or question Islam or the

Islamic Republic. Paragraph 5.162 goes on that: "open opposition to the Iranian Constitution's principles of Islamic clerical supremacy is not

tolerated. Most independent

orqenisetions

have either been banned,

co-opted by the regime, or are moribund". Paragraph 5.163 goes on to say that: 'there have been reports that many of those executed for alleged criminal. offences, political dissidents. dissent primarily narcotics charges, were ectuelty»

Furthermore and applied

a law passed in November
sentences of imprisonment,

1995
or in

criminalised

extreme cases the death penalty, to offences such as 'attempts against the security of the State' ... ". The report also notes the role played by the Revolutionary Guards' Corp, the Basij (paramilitary volunteer force) and Hezbollahi ("partisans of God") in repressing dissent (see paragraphs 4.38 - 4.41).

56.

The regime's attitude to the PMOI: at paragraph 5.168 the report says that (although it is not accepted that popular support for the PMOI has declined in Iran): 'The Iranian regime's organisation has been extremely treatment of the Mojahedin

severe,

with reports

of large

numbers of executions and torture. Known or suspected members

of MEK face either execution or long prison terms if caught in Iran"
(emphasis added).

57.

Repression of dissent abroad: paragraph 5.6 notes that several Iranian dissidents throughout who the had 1980s fled and abroad 1990s were tracked down and killed

by Iranian

government

agents.

Paragraph 5.162 (referred to already above) also says the following: "the regime follows closely the. activities of prominent political opposition figures abroad, attempts to disrupt their activities, and occasionally

carries out political assassinations political opponents

of such leaders. Inside Iran, militant

are either executed or given long prison terms,

16

particularly paragraph

members

of the [PMOI)" (emphasis
of political

added).

Finally,

5.192 notes that: "executions

dissidents have

taken place outside Iran in 1995" and goes on to refer to the well-known examples of the killings in Turkey (Zahra Rajabi and Ali Moradi),

Germany, Switzerland, as well as Italy (Mohammad Hossein Naghdi).

58.

I ask the Commission relation to the matters

to note that the Home Office assessment above is confirmed

in

in the two following

documents: US State Department country report on Iran (dated 4 March 2002) at Tab 3 (Bundle A), and "Report on the situation of human rights .... in the Islamic Republic of Iran, prepared by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr Maurice Danby Copithorne"

dated 16 January 2002 (at Tab 4 - Bundle A).

Factors outlined by Secretary of State to support his conclusion that the PMOI should be proscribed

59.

I consider a great deal of what is said against the PMOI to be not only incorrect, but also irrelevant as to whether or not the PMOI should have been proscribed Secretary under the Terrorism alleges that the Act 2000. PMOI has For instance, the

of State

an undemocratic

structure; promotes a "cult of personality"; that the PMOI and NCRI are the same organisation; that the PMOI has forced the divorce of couples: has sent members' children abroad; and has imprisoned and harassed "defectors" (see paragraph 4 of the "Open Statement" reproduced at paragraph 9 of A's witness statement). Even if these allegations were

true, which I strenuously deny, I do not see how they could be used as a proper basis to proscribe the PMOI within the terms of the Terrorism Act of 2000.

60.

On the

other

hand,

A's

statement

refers

to

perfectly

legitimate

demonstrations

as if they supported the Secretary of State's case for

proscription (see for instance paragraph 8 and the references to the

17

protests outside Iranian embassies

in April 1992 and the protest at

Velayati's visit to Potsdam in July 1992).

61.

Moreover, the above allegations form part of the decision to proscribe where the Secretary of State does not allege a threat to the national security of the UK or the safety of its citizens posed by the PMOI (indeed there is no threat).

62.

It is significant that the allegations

made by the Secretary of State

exactly mirror those made against the PMOI by the Iranian clerical." regime, and in particular the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and those it pays to disseminate false propaganda against the PMOI. I dealt with the dissemination of propaganda against the PMOI at paragraphs ·132 - 134 of my previous witness statement). I elaborate on this issue in more detail below (at paragraphs 95 - 181).

The political context of the decision to proscribe the PMOI

63.

I discuss below the political context in which the decision to proscribe was taken.

Relations betweenPMOI

and NCRI and the Labour Party

,

..

64.

It may be helpful to the Commission if I say something about the history of relations between the Iranian Resistance and the PMOI with the

Labour Party (and then the Government), which go back 21 years.

65.

The Labour Party's senior officials, many of whom are now members of the Government, have always been fully aware of the nature of PMOI and its strategy and tactics. Until 1997 and even in the first few months these officials continued to support. by the

of the first Labour administration,

the PMOI and the very campaign now termed as "terrorism" Secretary of State.

18

66.

During

its 1981 annual welcoming

conference, formation

the of

Labour the

Party adopted Council

a of

resolution

the

National

Resistance of Iran (NCRI) as a coalition of forces striving for democracy in Iran. It stressed that the Party intended to establish formal dialogue with the council, as the most appropriate way to support the Iranian people's struggle against the clerical regime.

67.

At the Labour Party's invitation

in 1984, NCRI President

Massoud

Rajavi visited the United Kingdom

and met Neil Kinnock, then the

Labour Leader, as well as other senior party officials. At the close of Mr.", Rajavi's Secretary, trip, "George the Robertson, Party's foreign currently affairs the NATO's General issued a

then

spokesman,

statement on 11 July 1984 welcoming a meeting between Mr. Rajavi and 13 members of the Commons, a member of the Lords, Secretary General Jim Mortimer, the Chairman, the late Eric Heffer; and Party Leader Neil Kinnock, I respectfully refer the Commission to my book

"Unethical Policy", published in 1998, which reproduces this statement at page 74 (extracts of my book are at Tab 5 - Bundle A). In June 1985, a rally in London, marking the fourth anniversary of the start of the Resistance against Iran's ruling dictatorship, was attended by a number of senior Labour Party leaders, including Donald Anderson MP, then deputy foreign affairs spokesman and the current chairman of the Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee; Eric Heffer MP, and the late Lord Ennals. During the rally, Mr. Anderson read a message from Mr. Kinnock, which included the following passage:

68.

"Dear Maryam and Massoud Rajavi, four years have elapsed since the events of 20 June 1981. Since then tens of thousands of Iranians have been jailed on political charges or even killed. The Labour Party fully supports the resistance which you have undertaken to these policies of the Iranian government and supports the hope that your movement

embodies of achieving peace and freedom in your country"

19

I attach an extract from "Iran: Liberation" reports this at Tab 6 (Bundle A).

dated 5 July 1985 which

69.

During the rally, Eric Heffer MP said:

"The Labour Party wants to make it clear on every occasion that we are with you one hundred percent in your struggle to ensure that democracy and freedom are once again there in your country Iran"

Pointing to the Rajavi-Aziz peace declaration in January 1983, which is~ discussed at pages 113 116 of "Democracy Betrayed" at Tab 1

(Bundle A), he added:

"I think your leader in making the approach he has made recently to the Iraqi government, is a great step forward and we should all give him complete support"

70.

Later on that year, at the invitation of the Labour Party leadership, Maryam Rajavi, then joint leader of the NCRI, addressed the Party's annual conference. leaders, including During her visit, Mrs Rajavi met with senior Party Eric Heffer. The conference adopted another

resolution in support of the NCRI and PMOI. It said in part:

"The .conference

commits the Labour Party to support the National

Council of Resistance and the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran as a democratic alternative to Khomeini, opposed to the dictatorships of the Shah and Khomeini, and requests the National Executive

Committee to adopt an active policy in opposing the Khomeini regime and in particular determine the details of a policy to further isolate the Khomeini regime by the collaboration of representatives Executive Committee, the National of the National and the

Council of Resistance

People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran and pursue this policy as one of our lmpottent priorities through the Foreign Affairs Committee and in

20

our relations with other countries, other societies, other socialists and other allies in the EEC"

I refer to photographs in my book "Unethical Policy" at Tab 5 (Bundle A) which show the meetings between Mrs Rajavi and various Labour Party officials in 1985. I also attach copies from "Iran Liberation" dated 11 October 1985 which reports on Mrs Rajavi's trip (at Tab 7 - Bundle A).

71.

Most of the Labour Party's current leaders and senior cabinet ministers were among the signatories of a statement in 1986 which eidorsed the , Peace Plan to end the Iran-I raq war presented in March 19Y3 by NCR President Massoud Rajavi, including the: Prime Minister the Rt Hon Tony Blair MP, the Foreign Secretary the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, the Home Secretary theRt and current NATO Hon David Blunkett MP, ex-Defence General Lord Robertson, Minister and the

r/Jlr

Secretary

Chancellor of the Exchequer the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP.

72.

The 1986 statement read in part:

"While declaring our support for the 13 March 1983 peace plan of Mr. Raja vi, the President of the National Council of Resistance and leader of the PMOI, for a lasting peace between Iran and Iraq, we urge the United Nations and all its member states to back this plan as a basis for terminating the war" (see pages 77 - 78 of my book "Unethical Policy" at Tab 5 - Bundle A).

73.

Until 1997, delegations of the Iranian Resistance were officially invited to, and took part in, the Labour Party's annual conference and met with the Party's leaders. I attach copies of resolutions by the Labour Party conference in 1983, 1984, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1997 (at pages 60 70 of my book "Unethical Policy" at Tab 5 - Bundle A; I also attach a 1985 resolution committing condemn the Khomeini the Labour Party to use all avenues to

regime and to support the NCRI and PMOI at

Tab 8 - Bundle A). These resolutions refer to support for the Iranian

21

people in their resistance against the regime, as well as condemnation of the brutality of the regime towards the PMOI.

74.

In a letter in 1993 to Mr. Rajavi, the late Derek Fatchett wrote:

"I offer my support to the Iranian people's aspirations for peace and tranquillity in Iran and the neighboring region, and salute the relentless efforts of the National Council of Resistance under your leadership to achieve these aims. You may rest assure of my continued efforts to restore democracy and human rights to your homeland, and restore Iran J.. to the family of nations"

75.

In June 1996, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian Resistance's Presidentelect, visited London, where she met with a number of MPs, several from the Labour Party, including the late Joan Lestor (Shadow Cabinet Minister for International Development). In their meeting, Ms. Lestor

reaffirmed her support for the NCRI and expressed hope that the Party would take more serious steps in support of the NCRl's efforts to establish democracy in Iran.

76.

It is difficult to understand how this consistent support for the PMOI over a period. of 17 years, as well as for the NCRI, suddenly changed into a decision to proscribe the PMOI, and the making of numerous false allegations, Statement separation such as those referred to at paragraph 4 of the Open (alleged forced divorce of married .couples, alleged

of children from their parents and so on). The change

towards the PMOI is all the more peculiar because the policies and strategies of the Iranian Resistance have not changed since 1981.

77.

There is nothing new about allegations by the Iranian clerical regime that the PMOI has endangered the lives of civilians, or has ill-treated its members, which allegations I stress are unfounded. However, such

allegations were dismissed as propaganda by the Labour Party prior to

22

them coming to power, and did not detract at all from the Labour Party's then consistent support for the NCRI and the PMOI.

78.

If the concerns about endangering the lives of civilians were the actual basis of the decision to proscribe, then I do not understand why the Government has not shown the same concern regarding any of the of brutal repression by the Iranian clerical regime Khatami,

many examples

against its own citizens during the tenure of Mohammed

including but not limited to members and sympathizers of the PMOI.
J._

79.

For example I am not aware of any expression of concern made by the Government regarding the remote-controlled explosion of a truck bomb in June 1999 against a PMOI passenger bus in Iraq that left six PMOI members killed and 21 wounded (I refer to this attack again below at paragraph 111).

80.

Nor am I aware. of any comment regarding the firing of 77 surface-tosurface missiles on PMOI bases and innocent Iraqi civilians in April

2001,

in blatant

breach

of UN Security

Council

Resolutions

and

international law.

81.

This is in contradiction to assurances given by Lord Bassam of Brighton (the Government's spokesman in the House of Lords) in the debate on the draft order at issue in these proceedings on 27 March 2001. Lord Bassam stated that:

"Her Majesty's Government have condemned acts of terrorism by that organisation [the PMOlj, just as they condemn all acts of terrorism

wherever and whenever they take place, whatever their motivation .." (see Hansard, House of Lords, Col. 192 - 193 at Tab 9 - Bundle A)

82.

The Russian government was among several European countries which expressed grave concern over the April 2001 act of aggression (I attach a translation of an article which appeared in the Russian press on 20 April 2001 at Tab 10- Bundle A). 23

83.

Similarly,

I respectfully

submit that the Government

has chosen to

ignore the Iranian regime's direct involvement

in taking US diplomats

hostage in Tehran in November 1979 and European and US nationals in Lebanon in 1984 - 1986, the bombing of the US marine barracks and the French embassy in Beirut in 1983, the bombings in Khobar in 1996, and Argentina in 1992 and 1994, and terrorist attacks that occurred some two decades ago. Instead, the Secretary of State uses a baseless claim regarding· alleged PMOI involvement in the deaths of US

servicemen some thirty years ago as a basis on which the decision to proscribe the PMOI was made. (I deal with latter at paragraphs 326 330 below).
-.1.

An about-face in policy towards the Iranian clerical regime

84.

I respectfully submit that there has been a startling policy reversal vis-avis the clerical regime by the present Government, motivated by

partisan political considerations, has to be seen in that context.

and that the proscription of the PMOI

85.

In an unusual interview with the official news agency, IRNA, on 21 July 1998, Derek Fatchett set out the considerations the background to the change in policy: which in my view are

"There is a' great deal of interest among Britain's financial sector to expand cooperation with Iranian firms, specifically at a time when Iran is considering ways to absorb foreign investment. This trend will be

mutually beneficial"

(I attach a document which reproduces this part of

the interview in Farsi at Tab 11 - Bundle A).

86.

Ten days later (on 31 July 1998), the "Voice of America" added:

'There are signs of improvement in the relations between Iran and the United Kingdom... Britain and Iran, which want to mend relations that have been cool in the last 20 years, are taking rapid steps to this end ...

24

Following the trip to Tehran by John Shepherd, the Foreign Office's Director General, two weeks ago, which led to a series of agreements between the two countries, last week the two sides announced that they intend to establish full diplomatic relations and exchange ambassadors after years of coolness in their relations. The Foreign Office has cancelled a meeting which was to have been held in February to deal with the fatwa to murder the British author, Salman Rushdie.

Reportedly,

Britain has reached the conclusion

that on the road to

rapprochement

with Iran, it must relax its tough stance on the Rushdie

case ... " (I attach a document which reproduces this part of the interviewin Farsi at Tab 12- Bundle A)

87.

The context in which this about-face

in policy has taken place was

acknowledged during the debates in Parliament regarding the Secretary of State's draft order. I refer to a number of quotes below.

"'.)

25

88.

In the House of Commons, remarks on 13 March 2001:

Robin Corbett MP made the following

"I must tell my Front-Bench colleagues that it is suspected that when the regime's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kamal Kharazi, came here last year, he demanded the banning of the mujaheddin as the price of better relations between our two countries. It is further suspected that that call was repeated when my right hon. Friend the Minster of State, Cabinet Office was in Tehran last month .." (Hansard Col. 490 p.960 at Tab 13 Bundle A)
-J..

89.

Jeremy Corbyn MP said the following in the same debate:

"I am very well aware

that the Indian

Government,

the Turkish

Government, the Sri Lankan Government, the Iranian Government and undoubtedly many other Governments have been constantly pressing the British Government to close down political activity in this country by their opponents .." (Hansard Col. 492 p.964 at Tab 14 - Bundle A)

90.

During the debate in the House of Lords on 27 March 2001, Lord Archer of Sandwell QC said the following:

"So Where are the terrorists? Are they among the Mujaheddinor the leadership of the regime? Not surprisingly,

among

most of the Iranian

community [in this country] have supported the resistance, not all of whom are members of the Mujaheddin. But some of them do applaud the Mujaheddin; some even help it financially. They are in good

company. Members of the Mujaheddin have been welcomed as guests at the Labour Party conference where there is always sympathy for

victims of persecution" (Hansard Col. 151 at Tab 15 - Bundle A)

91.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead said the following:

26

"When the Prevention of Terrorism BiII- later the Terrorism Act 2000was debated legislation overthrow in another place, the Home Secreiery said that the

was directed at groups in Britain that supported efforts to democratic regimes abroad. Importantly, he added that

dissent was a viie! part of our democracy. Surely, no one in this House can describe the mullahs' regime in Tehran as democratic ... The Home Office note associated with this order states that the [PMOI] has not attacked UK or Western interests. 'Why have our Government included the Mujaheddin in the list at this particular time?" (Hansard Col. 162 at Tab 16 - Bundle.A)
J

92.

Lord Avebury said the following:

. "The noble Lord, Lord Alton, put his finger on it when he said that the trouble is that we have been friendly with a great many people in the past who have attended criminalising our party conferences. We are suddenly

them and do not know how that can happen with The fact is that any armed

people we know are not terrorists.

opposition group or anybody who supports an armed opposition group in whatever country in the world is ipso facto a terrorist. That is what the definition in. Article 1 [sic] says. It was pointed out that if the order had been in- force at the time, it would have caught people like Nelson Mandela of the ANC; it would have applied to the opposition parties which contested the Zimbabwe elections after the Lancaster House

conference in 1980, and to Fretilin in East Timor after 1975. So the examples given could be multiplied almost indefinitely. The West has not always taken such a rigid stance against armed oppositions in other countries combating repressive regimes. At one time the

United States backed

UNITA in Angola.

Of course the outstanding
in Afghanistan.

example which we live to regret is the mujaheddin

President Bush senior tried to persuade the Shi'a of Iraq to rise against Saddam in 1991 after operation Desert Storm. So there are plenty of examples in the have recent past where armed states and our which own are

governments

supported

oppositions

~

27

fighting

repressive

regimes"

(emphasis added; see Hansard, House

of Lords, Col. 183 at Tab 17 - Bundle A).

93.

Lord Avebury went on to say the following:-

"The UN General Assembly repeatedly recognised that peoples under colonial or alien domination have the right to struggle and to seek and receive support in the exercise of their right to self-determination. It

ruled that the use of armed force in those circumstances fell outside its definition of aggression. principles If we had been more careful to uphold

the-

of international

law, we ought at least to have excluded If that much is accepted, should we

those cases from the definition.

not at least have required the Secretary of State to consider whether, in each of the 21 cases listed here, the organisation could have sought its objectives peacefully through the political system in the state

concerned ... The People's Mujaheddin of a secular. supremacy the Islamic democratic state

of Iran cannot pursue its goal means when principle the of that the

by peaceful

of the religious revolution

leader is the fundamental rash enough

and anybody

to question

idea is a criminal.

As the noble Lord, Lord Alton, mentioned,

president himself said that that person is guilty of treason and 30,000 of the members of that organisation were slaughtered in cold blood in

1988 on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini. Many other opponents of the regime like Dr Shapour Bakhtiar, the Shah's last prime minister, and Oariush Fotouher, a distinguished political peaceful activist, have been murdered by the agents of the mullahs .." (emphasis added; see

Hansard, House of Lords, Cols 183 -184,

also at Tab 17 - Bundle A)

94.

Indeed up until the present, a majority of MPs and a significant number of Peers (across the political spectrum) continue to support the NCRI and PMOI and endorse its work. I referred in my previous statement, at paragraphs 242 - 245, to the Parliamentary initiatives in support of the PMOI and NCRI, including those which post-date the PMOl's

proscription.

28

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