HUFFINGTON POST – By Lord Robin Corbett
We met your husband and you at the G8 summit reception in Birmingham when Bill spotted a Birmingham grandmother. Her photo was used as a publicity poster for the event. I can see you both now as Bill pointed and bellowed: ‘Look Hillary, there’s Marge.’ I believe this poster (“Marge, get your hair done. Bill’s coming to town”) hung in the White House for a time!
On your desk now is a decision of the DC Circuit Court handing victory to the PMOI, part of the coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran, in its campaign to remove its designation as a foreign terrorist organization. The Court wants you to reconsider your predecessor’s refusal to lift this ban.
Please let me tell you what your officials will now argue. I heard them do just that during a meeting at the State Department two years ago. I’d gone there following a successful court action here in 2008 by an all-party group of 35 Members of Parliament and the House of Lords about our government’s refusal to remove a similar ban.
Shortly, as here, your officials argued “once perceived as a terrorist, always a terrorist”. When they tell you this, please remind them that our courts and that in Washington accepted that “dramatically changed circumstances” included the fact that the PMOI renounced violence in 2001 and voluntarily handed over its defensive arms to US forces at Camp Ashraf, Iraq, near the Iran border in 2003.
Although the PMOI case is different, but to assist your officials to understand the point, tell them how, with the great help of your husband, the UK negotiated peace in Northern Ireland with men who had used bombs rather than the ballot box to either achieve or resist change. The “once perceived a terrorist, always a terrorist” mantra would have prevented that happening. In reality the PMOI always called for internationally monitored elections and the mullahs have refused even today.
And tell them too, that the open and intelligence evidence before your court was identical to that which the UK courts found so unpersuasive and irrelevant.
I can tell you that a former Labour Minister in our Foreign Office wrote to me after leaving his job about the refusal of his officials to recognize and accept what your court called “dramatically changed circumstances”. It is his strong view that the so-called evidence about the PMOI is so long ago that it has no current relevance and it is impossible to independently confirm its accuracy. Don’t tell them, but I think your officials may be in the same position.
Both in the US and the UK the Iranian Resistance was banned solely as part of the calculus to make bridges with Tehran. In recent times, suppressing the PMOI has been a demand of the mullahs as a pre-condition to talking about its nuclear weapons development in breach of UN obligations. This is what the DC Circuit Court meant when it spoke about “the realities of foreign policy and security concerns.”
You know as well as I do that years of talks with Iran have simply given time to the mullahs to develop their nuclear weapons. As with earlier attempts appeasement makes the problem worse and experts estimate they could be within 24 months of the capacity to make these weapons.
But there are other reasons why you should now decide to liberate the Iranian Resistance. Doing so would signal to those millions in Iran who we hear cry freedom that they do not stand alone. And that our joint protest over human rights abuses, murder and torture of those who demand regime change and democracy is not merely empty rhetoric.
At the stroke of your signature agreeing with the Washington court, the mullahs would lose the ability to claim your current designation of the Resistance justifies their increasing repression of pro-democracy protestors.
Please, Hillary, pick up your pen and sign now.
Lord Corbett of Castle Vale
Chair, British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
P.S. I am not asking you to support the PMOI. That is a matter for the people of Iran in free elections and they will decide who takes them to democracy.