Majority of backbench MPs sign EDM urging US to de-list PMOI
500 Parliamentarians call on US, UN to protect Camp Ashraf residents and call for support for Mrs Rajavi's Third Option
At a major symposium on Monday 14 February in Westminster, top former US national security officials and a majority of backbench UK Parliamentarians called on the United States government to lift the terrorist designation of the main Iranian opposition group, People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI / MeK), and to protect its members in Camp Ashraf, Iraq.
Panellists at the London conference included: Louis Freeh, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Ambassador Dell Dailey, former head of the US State Department's counter-terrorism department (2007-2009); Lord Corbett of Castle Vale, chair of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom; Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, Government's independent reviewer of terrorism legislation (2001-2011); Rt. Hon. Baroness Boothroyd, former Speaker of the House of Commons; Rt. Hon. Lord Archer of Sandwell QC, former UK Solicitor-General; Rt. Hon. Lord Fraser of Carmyllie QC, former Lord Advocate for Scotland; Steve McCabe MP, (Labour) former Government Whip; Baroness Turner of Camden (Labour); David Amess MP (Con); Brian Binley MP (Con); Lord Maginnis of Drumglass; Roger Gale MP (Con); Lord King of West Bromwich; Lord Alton of Liverpool; Lord Clarke of Hampstead, former Chairman of the Labour Party; Jim Fitzpatrick MP (Lab); Dr. Julian Lewis MP (Con); David Vaughan QC; Claire Miskin; and Ms. Dowlat Nowrouzi, the NCRI representative in the UK. Mrs Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), addressed the conference from Paris.
An Early Day Motion (no. 1143), signed by a majority of backbench MPs, was unveiled urging the US to "follow the UK in de-listing the PMOI and provide the necessary protection for the residents of Camp Ashraf" and the UN to "station a monitoring team at Ashraf".
The EDM added: "the UK Court of Appeal, after reviewing the closed material, ruled that the PMOI was not involved in terrorism leading to the group's de-proscription in the UK unanimously by both Houses of Parliament in 2008 and in the EU in 2009 and that in July 2010 the US Court of Appeals in Washington ruled in favour of the PMOI and urged the US Secretary of State to re-evaluate the decision to maintain the PMOI on the list".
Among the signatories of the EDM are 20 Committee chairs, including the chairmen of the home affairs, foreign affairs, and human rights select committees.
Lord Corbett of Castle Vale, chairman of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, announced at the conference that 500 cross-party MPs and members of the House of Lords had additionally signed a statement, declaring: "While refugee PMOI members at Camp Ashraf face a threat of a renewed attack and expulsion by the Iraqi forces, we call on the US government to remove the PMOI from its proscribed list on the basis of the same evidence which persuaded our courts and those in Europe to de-proscribe".
Louis Freeh, former Director of the FBI, said the evidence showed that the PMOI did not merit being labelled as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department. "A good lawyer could argue that what is happening in Camp Ashraf is a war crime under the ICC statute. In relation to the MEK/PMOI, de-listing must take place immediately in the US. This is a very clear factual situation. In 1997 the Iranian government duped the US into designating the PMOI. This occurred because the US administration at the time thought that the Iranian President was a moderate and that it would allow for dialogue with Iran. Now, we have the opportunity to do the right thing by de-listing the MEK/PMOI".
Ambassador Dell Dailey, former head of the US State Department's counter-terrorism department, pressed the Obama administration to revoke the terrorist designation of the PMOI. "Iran does a have a fear of the PMOI, due to its popularity and secular nature. They do have a fear of the PMOI due to it's encouragement of free elections and the rule of law. Iran have a fear of the PMOI due to freedom of religion and no nuclear weapons or mass instruction. Iran has the fear of the PMOI due to the freedom of speech and press. Right now, Iran fears the PMOI more than ever. A possible Tunisia, a possible Egypt, a possible Iran. It is with great irony and embarrassment and huge international confusion that the United States and Iran are of the equal mind and on the same team as retaining the PMOI on the terrorist list. We must revoke the terrorist listing for the PMOI, allow Iranian opposition ... 120,000 friends and its members the opportunity to counter Iran, generate its death and distinctively create a democratic Iran. Revoke the terror destination now".
"The recent actors, the European Union, the United Nations, the United States need to maintain pressure on the government of Iraq to treat the Camp Ashraf residents with dignity, care, restraint and respect", Dailey said.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the main opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in a video message to the meeting called on the West to end its decades-long policy of appeasing the Iranian regime.
"Appeasers denied popular urge for democracy in the region. They denied the importance of human rights for the region and sacrificed it for diplomatic and economic interests", Rajavi said. "It is a mistake to ignore the threats of the religious fascism ruling Iran to the regional countries, and overlook its destructive role by diverting popular uprisings towards fundamentalism and extremism".
"Following uprisings in the region, change in policy vis-a-vis Iran is even more crucial, otherwise the Iranian regime will disrupt the democratic trend in the region", she said.
Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the government's independent reviewer of terrorism legislation (2001-2011), told the meeting: "In the UK proceedings, the judgments of which are available publicly, and of course, in every detail to the United States government, every single allegations that could be trotted out against the PMOI was made. Every one of those allegations was considered and every single one of them that was material was demolished by the British courts".
"For years, as you have heard, the British government and the United States government have appeased the mullahs and Ahmadinejad because they have some kind of perverse belief that things will be better if they do not square up to them", Lord Carlile added.
Rt. Hon. Lord Fraser of Carmyllie QC, former Lord Advocate for Scotland, said: "We can rise and applaud when the Secretary of State for the United States of America decides that the PMOI should be delisted".
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass said: "President Obama, I thought when he was elected, was a signal of reconciliation for the future, somebody who would carry the flag for freedom for everyone throughout the world, and I am so disappointed and that he has not implemented the rulings of his own court that the PMOI are not a terrorist organisation. ".
Rt. Hon. Baroness Boothroyd, former Speaker of the House of Commons, said: "For many years the Iranian regime has been the world's most infamous abuser of human rights. Already we have heard in the early part of this year more than 90 people have been executed. The lives of innocent people are being put at risk and human life is being ruthlessly violated. When we analyse the individuals who are targeted we find them to be those of the Iranian option and members of relatives based at Camp Ashraf".
"What is happening at Ashraf is unacceptable. The Iraqi authorities have directly attacked residents, some have been murdered, some have been injured, others have been illegally detained and tortured. Sick patients have been denied hospitalisation, and medical practitioners have been denied access to the sick. The constant use of loudspeakers threatening to kill amounts to psychological torture", Baroness Boothroyd said.
Lord Corbett added: "Ashraf sends a powerful unstoppable message for those millions in Iran who cry freedom. ... It is precisely because Iran's fundamentalist mullahs fear their voice, that they demand Iraqi thugs in army uniform and its own agents make repeated attacks on these defenceless refugees in deliberate breach of the undertakings that they have given to ensure the safety and safety and security of these people".
"The voice of Ashraf is for freedom, for democracy, for respect of human rights, an end to corruption, brutality and for jobs and above all for respect. ... That is why the mullahs try to silence it with 180 loudspeakers night and day spewing out threats to kill residents and destroy where they live", Corbett said.
Steve McCabe MP, (Labour) former Government Whip, warned of Iran’s meddling in the Middle East and its attempts to take advantage of the new fluid situation to export its fundamentalism to the region. He said: "It seems to me dead obvious for the West, we should stand with the Iranian people who are opposing the regime. I don't think we should appease the regime over nuclear weapons. The time for talking over that is finished. They either have to abide by the UN agreements or they have to go. We should certainly not be cowed by a regime that is intent on creating war all over the Middle East. We should not put up with that. ".
Conservative MP David Amess, the chief sponsor of EDM 1143, said: "What better way to oppose the fundamentalism of the Iranian regime, than to support the Camp Ashraf residents who base their ideals on a progressive form of Islam which intertwines with the democratic demands of the Iranian people. At this juncture I must congratulate Mrs Rajavi on the role she has played in highlighting the success of female leadership. The value of her leadership is incredible".
Baroness Turner of Camden (Labour) said: "The Ashraf residents have dedicated their lives to a struggle for freedom and democracy for Iran, an embodiment of bravery and dedication which has inspired millions in Iran to demand the same. Now, as we see millions across North Africa and the Middle East demanding the democracy that we in the West at times take for granted, the role to be played by Iran’s largest opposition group requires and demands our support".
Conservative MP Brian Binley said: "Camp Ashraf has now been under siege for over two years. The residents are facing daily psychological torture and direct violent attack. ... The US authorities must assume control of the safety and security of Camp Ashraf, while the entire international community must demand that the 180 loud speakers used to torture the residents are removed and the case of Camp Ashraf placed before the Iraqi Parliament, with the Iraqi group for suppression of Ashraf shut down".
The conference called on the US and the EU to formally adopt a policy of regime change in Iran by implementing comprehensive sanctions and supporting the organised Iranian opposition movement to bring about democratic change.
Ms. Dowlat Nowrouzi, the NCRI representative in the UK, said: "Camp Ashraf is a beacon of hope for the Iranian people, and for the people of the region it is the antithesis against the expansion of Islamic fundamentalism which is the biggest threat, not only in the way of democracy prevailing in Iran, but also in the way of stability, peace and development in Egypt and the Middle East and in the world community".
Lord Alton of Liverpool said: "It is an undisputed fact that the current regime in Iran is not serious in negotiation. It has no intention of changing its behaviour, and indeed it is incapable of reform, because it would lead to its collapse after years of experienced and in particular the failure of the Istanbul talks, no one can deny this unless they are supporters of the regime in Iran. In my view, having known the National Council for Resistance over these last 30 years, I believe they are not only the driving force for democratic change Iran, but given the current turmoil in the region, and the Iranian regime's attempts to divert the course of people's movement to democracy to an authoritarian regime, we have seen the terrible repression of demonstrations in the country, the PMOI is an antithesis to that fundamentalist regime in Iran."
The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
15 February 2011