{mosimage}PRESS RELEASE - Government urged to back Iran Freedom: MPs and Peers at a conference in the House of Commons on Tuesday urged the Government to comply with a High Court decision to remove an Iranian resistance group from its list of banned organisations.


Government urged to back Iran Freedom

MPs and Peers at a conference in the House of Commons on Tuesday urged the Government to comply with a High Court decision to remove an Iranian resistance group from its list of banned organisations.

Speakers included Lord Corbett of Castle Vale, Chairman of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom; Rt. Hon. Lord Waddington QC, former UK Home Secretary; Brian Binley MP (Con); Baroness Verma; David Drew MP (Lab); Roger Gale MP (Con); Baroness Turner of Camden; Rt. Hon. Lord Archer of Sandwell QC, former UK Solicitor-General; Lord Clarke of Hampstead; Baroness Blood; Baroness Knight of Collingtree; Masoud Zabeti of the Committee of Anglo-Iranian Lawyers; and Hossein Abedini of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

The Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission last November determined that the ban on the PMOI was "perverse", "flawed" and "must be set aside". The verdict came after 35 MPs and Peers launched a legal challenge calling for the PMOI’s de-proscription. The government’s request for an appeal was refused.

POAC concluded that “intense scrutiny of the material requires the conclusion” that:
- The PMOI has not engaged in terrorist acts in Iran or elsewhere since August 2001.
-  The PMOI's military structure inside Iran had ceased to exist by (at the latest) the end of 2002.
- In May 2003, the PMOI in Iraq disarmed.
- There is no material indicating that the PMOI has obtained or sought to obtain arms or otherwise reconstruct any military capability, nor any material that it has sought to recruit or train members for military or terrorist action.
- There is no evidence that the PMOI has at any time since 2003 sought to re-create any form of structure that was capable of carrying out or supporting terrorist acts. 
- There is no evidence of any attempt to “prepare” for terrorism or of any encouragement to others to commit acts of terrorism. 

POAC therefore ruled the PMOI “is not concerned in terrorism”.  It stated: "In those circumstances, the only belief that a reasonable decision maker could have honestly entertained, whether as at September 2006 or thereafter, is that the PMOI no longer satisfies any of the criteria necessary for the maintenance of their proscription.  In other words, on the material before us, the PMOI is not and, at September 2006, was not concerned in terrorism." 

POAC added: “we order the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament the draft of an Order under section 3(3)(b) of the 2000 Act removing the PMOI from the list of proscribed organisations in Schedule 2.”

The government’s defiance of the Court ruling comes when the regime is carrying out its most ferocious crackdown on young people. In January, the regime executed at least 32 prisoners, murdered a dissident student in the north-western city of Sanandaj, executed another wounded prisoner laying on a stretcher in the northern city of Khoy, amputated the limbs of five prisoners in the south-eastern city of Zahedan, and sentenced two teenagers to be thrown off a cliff in a sack in the southern city of Shiraz.

The regime continues to export fundamentalism and terrorism – in particular to Iraq and Afghanistan. Its nuclear weapons projects are continuing. Just before the UN Security Council adopted a third set of sanctions over the regime’s refusal to halt its uranium enrichment last month, the coalition resistance NCRI detailed the location and weapons activity at two new secret nuclear facilities in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The MPs and Peers condemn the bombing of the water pumping station to Ashraf City (Iraq) - home to the PMOI - by the agents of the regime last month.

Mr. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said under an agreement signed by Iraqi authorities and the PMOI in 2003, residents of Ashraf City remain under the protection of the Multi-National Force (MNF) in Iraq. In 2004 the United States recognized PMOI members as protected persons under the Geneva conventions, meaning that they should not be deported, expelled or repatriated, or displaced inside Iraq, he said.

Mr. Ziegler added: “The Iraqi authorities have failed to protect the inhabitants of Ashraf City and its surrounding area from the actions of third parties, which are impeding enjoyment of the rights to food and water and creating a critical humanitarian situation.

“The competent authorities must restore urgently the water supply to all the inhabitants of the region affected by the explosion in the water pumping station [and] the affected population must be protected from violation of their rights by third parties.

“I call on the Iraqi authorities to take immediate measures to guarantee the rights to food and water of the inhabitants of Ashraf City/Camp Ashraf and its surrounding area.”

As repression tightens, MPs and Peers noted that opposition to the regime has increased. Hundreds of anti-government protests have taken place since the new year. For the past two weeks, student activists have been holding an anti-government sit-in in the university in Shiraz, coordinated by PMOI activists inside Iran.

The Parliamentarians condemned the government’s appeasement of the mullahs, which helps to keep the regime in power.  Neither military force nor appeasement is the answer to the threats posed by Iran.  Instead, the UK and EU should support the third option proffered by Mrs Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which seeks democratic change brought about through the Iranian people and their Resistance.
The PMOI is an ally of the international community in its resistance to Islamic fundamentalism. The British government must implement the court rulings ordering it be de-proscribed to signal to the people of Iran that we stand on their side for democratic change.

The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
11 March 2008


Note to editors:
The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom is made up of over 50 Members of Parliament and Peers from across the political spectrum. It has the backing of the majority of MPs and more than 200 Peers in its support for human rights and democracy in Iran.

The PMOI – Iran’s principal opposition force – is a member organisation in the main opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran. Some 120,000 of its members and sympathisers have been executed by the mullahs’ regime on political grounds. The NCRI was the first to alert the international community to the regime’s secret nuclear projects in August 2002.

The PMOI were proscribed in the UK by then-Home Secretary Jack Straw MP in 2001. The same proscription was used as the basis of the group’s inclusion in the EU’s terrorist list. On 12 December 2006, however, the Court of First Instance of the European Communities in a landmark verdict “annulled” the EU’s decision to place the group in the terrorist list. At the UK Government’s bidding, the EU announced in June 2007 that it would maintain the PMOI in the list.

In a landmark verdict on 30 November 2007, the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission (POAC) ordered the Home Secretary to remove the PMOI from the list of proscribed organisations. In its judgement, POAC further found that the decision of the Home Secretary to refuse an application made by 35 MPs and Peers calling for deproscription of the PMOI was "flawed", "perverse" and "must be set aside".

On 14 December, POAC rejected the Secretary of State's leave for appeal against its 30 Nov. judgment. It has since sought leave to appeal at the Court of Appeal, heard by the Lord Chief Justice. Its decision is awaited.