Scoop Independent News – By Elizabeth Carter October 13, 2011
On July 16, 2010 the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Peoples Mujaheddin Organisation of Iran/Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (PMOI/MEK), the main opposition to the Mullahs regime in Iran, “did not meet the statutory standard for listing as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO)” and that the State department had “erred” in their designation of the group.
The judge ordered the State Department to review the listing, giving a deadline for producing any new evidence, failing which they must remove the designation. This deadline has long since passed, but the State Department still procrastinates. Why?
This D.C. ruling followed over 20 previous court judgments in favour of the PMOI/MEK in the UK and many European countries resulting in their removal from the equivalent UK list in 2008 and the EU list in January 2009. In the UK the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Committee (POAC) went so far as to call the British Government “perverse” for continuing to appeal the de-listing order.
Louis Freeh, Head of the FBI in 1997 when the PMOI/MEK were put on the FTO list, and many other former officials of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations have stated very clearly that the designation was made solely to appease the Mullahs in the hope of opening meaningful dialogue with them
They all agree that this appeasement policy has failed and is only giving the regime time to develop their nuclear capability and, in the light of the Arab Spring, further their ambitions to spread Islamic fundamentalism throughout the region.
Both justice and history would best be served by removing the shackle of the FTO listing, enabling the PMOI/MEK to act as a legitimate opposition to the Iranian regime with the ability to effect change from within.
This is not just an academic matter. It has extremely serious consequences. The US listing of the PMOI/MEK is being used by Nouri Al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, heavily influenced by the Iranian regime, as justification for perpetrating atrocities against the 3,400 Iranian exiles, members of the PMOI/MEK, currently residing in Ashraf, Northern Iraq.
Colonel Wesley Martin, the officer charged with obtaining the surrender of the “terrorists” in Ashraf in 2003, has very publicly stated that, on entering the camp and meeting the residents, he “knew they were not terrorists and that the State Department was wrong.” They had taken no part in the Iraq War and voluntarily gave up their weapons in return for guarantees of protection from the United States. He has spoken many times of being proud to know the courageous men and women of Ashraf.
General James Conway, commanding the post Iraq war anti-terrorist activities also categorically asserts their innocence and, speaking in Geneva on 22nd September 2011, said that when, subsequently, each resident of Ashraf was given Protected Persons Status under the 4th Geneva Convention, he had the pleasure of getting to know them personally as commander of the US Marines protecting the camp.
In addition, before the people of Ashraf were given their Protected status, each one was thoroughly investigated for criminal activity of which no evidence was found.
So why, with the legal ruling and much powerful first hand experience readily available, does the PMOI/MEK remain listed and why has the Iraqi government been allowed to carry out systematic, planned and continuing atrocities against the innocent and defenseless men and women of Ashraf, seemingly with impunity?
It is clear and understandable that the Iranian regime would like nothing better than to rid themselves of Ashraf, as it stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration for the Iranian people and poses a serious threat to their brutal and oppressive Absolute Clerical Rule.
What is not at all clear is why the United States government appears to be condoning, if not actually colluding with, their plans.
Within days of the United States handing responsibility for protecting Ashraf to the Iraqi government in January 2009, as part of their withdrawal strategy, Al-Maliki put Ashraf under siege conditions. Since then supplies of food, fuel and medical supplies have been severely restricted and no visitors have been allowed entry. Currently 300 loudspeakers broadcast death threats and insults into Ashraf day and night.
In July 2009, 1,500 Iraqi government forces attacked Ashraf, killing 11 and injuring 500. This was followed by several unprovoked assaults, injuring dozens, throughout 2010 and most recently, on 8th April 2011, there came another brutal massacre by 2,500 government forces supported by 140 tanks and armoured vehicles, resulting in 36 dead and 350 injured. Amidst worldwide condemnation, Iran alone censured Al-Maliki for not doing enough.
Six months later 1,500 Iraqi forces are still occupying the northern third of Ashraf, poised to launch a new attack at any time, the injured have been denied access to proper medical treatment and Iran has issued an ultimatum to Al-Maliki to close Ashraf by whatever means by the end of the year.
And, as already stated, the Iraqi government uses the United States listing of the PMOI/MEK as a terrorist organisation to justify these actions.
The International community have spoken out loud and clear that the PMOI/MEK are not terrorists and must be de-listed, the Iraqi forces withdrawn from Ashraf and a permanent UN monitoring team established.
So what possible justification has the Secretary of State for maintaining such a dangerous silence?
Madam Clinton, I urge you to stand on the right side of the law and of history by de-listing the MEK now.
Elizabeth Carter is a British writer and women and human rights activist