NewsSpecial WireIran exile group rejects Human Rights Watch accusations

Iran exile group rejects Human Rights Watch accusations

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Iran Focus: Paris, May 19 – Iran’s main opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MeK) rejected a report released by New York-based Human Rights Watch on alleged human rights abuses in MeK camps in Iraq as “a rehash of trite accusations” by agents of Iran’s secret police, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security. Iran Focus

Paris, May 19 – Iran’s main opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MeK) rejected a report released by New York-based Human Rights Watch on alleged human rights abuses in MeK camps in Iraq as “a rehash of trite accusations” by agents of Iran’s secret police, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

The report today by Human Rights Watch accused the MeK of abusing the human rights of its members. Joe Stork, Washington director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division, was quoted as saying “Members who try to leave the MKO pay a very heavy price”.

The MeK statement, faxed to news outlets in London and New York, said the organization “strongly denies the wild, unproven accusations that only serve as a license for the mullahs’ regime to continue unabatedly the execution and suppression of PMOI members and supporters in Iran”.

The opposition group contended that Human Rights Watch had not contacted officials of the MeK or the Paris-based National Council of Resistance, a coalition of dissident groups that includes the MeK. It faulted the U.S.-based human rights watchdog for having conducted interviews with 12 ex-members of the MeK only by telephone and for failing to substantiate the allegations they made against the Iranian dissident group.

“Of the 12 sources used by Human Rights Watch to build this case against the Iranian Mujahedeen, four left the organization before 1991 and the remaining eight were sent to Europe directly from Iran by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS),” the MeK said.

The key source for the HRW report, Mohammad-Hassan Sobhani, has alleged that he spent more than eight years in solitary confinement in an MeK camp in Iraq. The MeK responded by producing an internal memorandum of the MOIS, first unveiled in August 2002, which showed that Sobhani was an MOIS team leader who trained new recruits on infiltration and espionage activities against the MeK. Sobhani was later sent to Germany from Tehran on what the MeK claims to be a new propaganda campaign against the Iranian opposition.

The group pointed out that seven agencies of the United States government had “screened” all MeK members in Iraq over a 16-month period and exonerated all of them. A senior U.S. official told the New York Times last July, “extensive interviews by officials of the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had not come up with any basis to bring charges against any members of the group.”

U.S. officials at MeK’s Camp Ashraf in Iraq were not immediately available to comment on the allegations. But in an earlier report from Camp Ashraf, the U.S. news service Knight Ridder quoted an American military official in Iraq as saying that inquiries into accusations of prisons or detention centers in the camp proved them to be unsubstantiated.

Several Iranian opposition figures agreed with the MeK charges that Human Rights Watch report was “a highly politicized invective against the Iranian resistance movement” and claimed was “hiding a political agenda behind a human rights smokescreen”.

“Human Rights Watch is politicizing this issue to the extreme,” said Hadi Marvani, a former political science professor in Tehran University now working for a risk assessment company in Germany. “The fact that Iran’s official media is having a field day with the report only bolsters Mujahedeen claims that the report is discredited.”

Mr. Marvani said he found comments by HRW official Joe Stork “troubling”. “Here is a human rights advocate introducing a human rights report, and the one message he keeps hammering is that the United States must not support the MeK and must not take this group off the terrorism list.”

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