Iran General NewsCalls for action on Iran exiles ruling

Calls for action on Iran exiles ruling

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Western Mail: The Government is giving a group of Iranian refugees a “raw deal” by refusing to withdraw a ruling that they belong to a terrorist organisation, according to Welsh politicians. The Western Mail

by David Williamson, Western Mail

THE Government is giving a group of Iranian refugees a “raw deal” by refusing to withdraw a ruling that they belong to a terrorist organisation, according to Welsh politicians.

Refugees who have fled Iran are angry that the UK Government and the EU continue to describe National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) – a self-proclaimed national parliament in exile – as a terrorist organisation.

They plan to hold a demonstration in opposition to President Ahmedinejad’s regime in Cardiff later this year.

The NCRI is a self-described parliament in exile which claims to be committed to the creation of a “democratic, secular and coalition government in Iran”.

Its supporters scored a major victory last November when the UK’s Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission described the listing as “perverse”.

It ruled Home Secretary Jacqui Smith had acted illegally when she refused to remove the NCRI’s sister group, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), from the blacklist.

Ministers were refused leave to appeal and the Home Office is now taking the case to the Court of Appeal.

Strong support for the PMOI has come from former Labour Bridgend MP Win Griffiths and Clwyd West Conservative MP David Jones.

Mr Jones has addressed NCRI gatherings and met the group’s leader Maryam Rajavi.

He said, “I think these people have had a very raw deal. They are opposed to the theocracy that exists in Iran. I’m very supportive of anything they do to draw attention to their cause.”

Many supporters of the NCRI and PMOI – both led by Ms Rajavi – believe the US, the UK and the EU have kept the terrorist status in place to strengthen their hand in negotiations with the Iranian regime about the future of Iraq and its pursuit of nuclear technology.

But critics of the organisations note that Saddam Hussein granted the PMOI a base in Iraq from which it could launch attacks against the Iranian government.

They are concerned by the PMOI’s historical Marxist-Islamist roots, its involvement in the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 and alleged support for the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.

But the NCRI now presents itself as the best hope for democracy in Iran and a bulwark against religious “fascism”.

Half of its members are women and its ranks include Kurds, Baluchis, Armenians, Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians.

Mr Griffiths said Iraq had been an ally of the West when the PMOI fled, and maintained the NCRI had evolved in the subsequent decades to support the creation of a “secular republic”.

He said, “I just feel our Government has been bending over backwards to try and appease the regime in Iran.”

Last year the second highest court in Europe, the Court of the First Instance in Luxembourg, ruled that the PMOI is not a terrorist organisation.

In June at least 30,000 Iranians – including a delegation from Wales – joined Ms Rajavi in Paris to protest at the EU’s refusal to drop the listing.

Mr Jones was impressed by Ms Rajavi, saying, “She’s clearly not a demagogue by any means.”

He is adamant that regime change should be encouraged in Iran, though he does not support an invasion. He said, “If you do that you’ll have [Western powers”> involved in a military confrontation that will run from the Red Sea to the Himalayas. I don’t think that’s possible.”

Instead, he favours strong support by Western governments for pro-democracy groups.

Mr Jones shares a similar conviction that Iran represents a deep threat to the Middle East and the wider world.

He said, “One of the concerns I’ve got is the extent to which we rely on energy from that region, which has a very aggressive and expansive power which is starting to call the shots. If people in Wales think it doesn’t affect them, it does.”

One refugee, who only wanted to be identified as Reza, told the Western Mail how he longed to see the end of the regime which killed his brother and locked him in jail for half a decade.

Reza, a nutritionist now living in Newport, said, “If America and Europe attack Iran it would be a very, very complicated situation. We are against any foreign war with Iran.

“On the other hand, we are against any appeasement policy with Iran but we have to get rid of this regime because this regime is a driving force for terrorism in the world.”

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