Member of Parliament for Southend West and member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
With the October 1 deadline for action less than two weeks away, it is far past time for immediate delisting of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) from the State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The State Department has dragged its feet so long on the issue that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia set October 1 as the final date for action on the MEK plea before the court acts by itself and sets aside the designation.
It is hard to understand the delay. Actually, there was no reason for MEK to be listed in the first place; it was thrown under the bus by the West in an effort to mollify the mullahs in Tehran.
That action failed but the listing remained.
The MEK went to court to fight this unjustified action and it succeeded. After a long battle the UK and the EU delisted the MEK. The US remains alone in its failure to act.
Last February 29, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the relocation of Camp Ashraf residents to Camp Liberty “will be a key factor in any decision regarding the MEK’s status.” Even though there never was an explanation why one should affect the other, the MEK – at the urging of Iranian Resistance leader Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, made the difficult decision to leave Ashraf, the modern town they built over 25 years with their own resources and endeavors.
Seven convoys of about 400 residents each made the difficult journey to Camp Liberty, where these men, women, and children have faced almost inhuman and prison-like conditions. Yet, they have endured because of the greater goal.
Since the Iraqi government agreed to the move to Camp Liberty at the end of 2011, only the MEK has fulfilled its promises. The UN, which was supposed to assure humanitarian conditions at Camp Liberty, has failed miserably. Despite its promise to process the people at Camp Liberty for refugee status and transfer them to third countries, not a single person has been adequately processed or moved.
Most importantly, the US has not only looked the other way regarding conditions at Camp Liberty, but it has also failed to act on the terror listing. The unjust terror designation has been the sole excuse for the Iraqi government to conduct two massacres at Camp Ashraf, killing dozens of defenceless residents and wounding 1,000 others at behest of its new ally, Tehran’s ruthless regime. That is the same regime the US and the West are trying to stymie in its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile the mullahs are getting closer and closer to the capability to make a bomb as the world powers are talking and trying to establish another date for a new round of talks with Tehran.
What makes the continued listing even more bewildering – and the need for delisting more essential – is the fact that it was the MEK that blew the whistle on the Iranian regime’s clandestine nuclear weapons program and alerted the world about this immense threat. The Iranian regime heretofore had kept the program secret and was rushing towards obtaining the material and the technology to acquire nuclear weapons.
The evidence against the listing continues to mount. Military officers involved in the protection of Ashraf have attested to the fact that the MEK has met all the conditions imposed on it. Earlier this month, about two dozen senior former government officials with extensive experience in matters relating to national security, the safety of US military, and law enforcement issued a joint statement urging delisting. They stated that none of them “has seen or become aware of any evidence that supports the designation of the MEK as a terrorist organization, now or in the past.”
What more evidence does the State Department need? What is it waiting for? October 1 is rapidly approaching – do we have to wait until the last moment?
The State Department should delist the MEK and allow it to function as what it really is: a legitimate resistance movement that wants to overthrow the clerical regime and establish democratic, secular rule in Iran.