Oppression or Democracy
on Iran at the European Parliament
Guest speaker, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi,
President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
Report on a meeting organized by the Friends of a Free Iran
on Iran and EU's policy on that country
the invitation of The Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup, the European
Parliament was host on Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, to Mrs. Maryam
Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance
of Iran, (NCRI) a coalition of Iranian democratic opposition groups.
150 members of the European Parliament and their assistants from
all parliamentary groups, including several members of the Foreign
Affairs Committee, Parliament's vice presidents and parliamentary
group leaders, attended the meeting, to hear Mrs. Rajavi's views
on the challenging issue of EU policy on Iran.
her speech, very positively received by MEPs, Mrs. Rajavi offered
a practical approach to deal with the challenge the EU is facing
in shaping its policy towards Iran. She rejected both the current
EU policy of appeasing the clerical regime "with the aim of
containing it or inducing gradual change" and also the call
to "overthrow the clerical regime by way of an external war,
similar to what occurred in Iraq".
she offered a third option: "Change brought about by the Iranian
people and the Iranian Resistance."
is an option that we in the European Parliament must endorse. Iran's
defiance in the face of the international community's demand to
halt permanently their uranium enrichment programme and their continuing
efforts to export Islamic fundamentalism, particularly to Iraq,
make EU attempts at conciliation the slippery slope towards military
conflict. To avoid that, we must lend our support to the Iranian
people in their endeavors to bring about change in Iran.
efforts to encourage Tehran to change its behaviour have failed.
Concessions such as accepting Tehran's demand to include Iran's
main opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI),
and a member of the NCRI in the EU's terror list, has proven to
be counter-productive. Mrs. Rajavi rightly emphasized that this
"label has no real basis or legal credibility". Distinguished
experts on European Community law and International Law have questioned
the legality of the PMOI's designation and declared that it was
without merit. (International Conference of Jurists, Paris, 10 November,
2004) This view was confirmed by Lord Slynn of Hadley, the former
judge at the European Court of Justice, and a world authority on
European law, who explained to us in the meeting in Strasbourg that
the PMOI is a legitimate political resistance movement. The recent
commitment by the UK, France and Germany to the Iranian regime,
that if the mullahs would accept a temporary limit to their nuclear
program, the EU would keep the PMOI on the terrorist list, confirms
the invalidity of the listing.
this context, as members of the European Parliament, we have a duty
to contribute to the formulation of a correct policy on one of the
most important issues that the EU is facing in its foreign and security
policy. We are also duty bound to make sure the Community's laws
are respected by our own governments and not violated for ulterior
political considerations. Finally, we have a moral duty to make
sure fairness and justice prevail. Accordingly, support for the
Iranian Resistance, which represents the aspirations of the Iranian
people for change is the proper course of action.
First Vice President of the European Parliament
Struan Stevenson, MEP (UK) opened the meeting by welcoming Mrs.
Rajavi to the European Parliament. He then invited Mr. Paulo Casaca,
MEP (Portugal) to make his openning remarks
It is a great honour for me to welcome Maryam Rajavi in the house
of European Democracy. It is a great honour; we know it was not
easy to make this meeting. We know that the Iranian government and
more specifically Mr. Kharrazi in Brussels during the last two days
he has been trying be all means to prevent this to happen. They
have written slander letters to nearly everyone. They tried everything
they could to stop this event from happening, but they did not succeed.
think that they should have understood that when one and a half
years ago they managed to convince the French authorities to launch
the biggest military operation in French soil from the Second World
War, just to persecute, to arrest absolutely harmless (people),
they should have understood that this does not work, because just
a fortnight after this she was released because the European justice
in France was working. And whenever there I a political establishment
that is taking a wrong position we in a democratic world, we know
that there are institutions that we can rely on. So they should
have understood that their lies, their slander are not playing anymore.
have been doing this in every domain. They promised and through
the European institutions we have been promised over two years ago
that there would be no more stoning of women in Iran. We just got
the news yesterday that in two weeks time the Iranian regime intends
to stone another woman on ‘moral grounds'. They have been
telling us time and time again that the Iranian regime was giving
up on its nuclear ambitions and time and time again they proved
that they were not giving up their intentions. They have been lying
time after time. And after all these years I've been accompanying
the work of the Iranian resistance, that I had the opportunity of
visiting Camp Ashraf in Iraq, and stayed there for some days, I
can assure all of you that what has been said by the Iranian regime
and their agents is simply slander; its not true. We are facing
a truly democratic movement that is actually the most advanced I
know in all of the world that is ruled by dictatorship.
is a truly committed movement to democracy, freedom, and tolerance.
And therefore it is for us a fantastic opportunity to have Madam
Rajavi at our side, and I will not waste none (any) of your time
anymore because all of us we want to hear what Mrs. Rajavi has to
tell us. Thank you, thank you very much for coming. Thank you for
joining us in this parliament of ours.
Stevenson followed Mr. Casaca by saying: Yesterday we learnt that
this week in Iran, a girl suffering from mental handicap has been
sentenced to flogging and then public execution by hanging for ‘offences
against chastity'. This is a girl of 19 with a mental age of eight.
In August you will recall that a 16-year-old girl was publicly hanged
... a 16-year-olg girl was publicly hanged in August in Iran by
the mullahs' regime. This is after 120,000 executions since the
mullahs came to public prominence. In fighting this regime, Mrs.
Rajavi as the President-elect is both a brave and resolute lady;
a woman who wishes to bring a secular democracy to Iran. I think
all of us should pay great respect to her bravery and her fortitude;
and we welcome you here today, Mrs. Rajavi, and I now give you the
Messrs Alejo Vidal-Quadras-Roca, Paulo Casaca and Straun Stevenson,
Distinguished Members of the European Parliament,
The Rt. Hon. Lord Slynn of Hadley,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be among you, elected representatives
of the people of Europe. Your courageous stance in defense of human
rights and fundamental freedoms is heartwarming to all those who
seek freedom, particularly in my homeland Iran.
Sitting in the panel from left: Rt. Hon. Lord Slynn of Hadley,
Paula Casaca, Maryam Rajavi, Straun Stevenson, and Alejo Vidal-Quadras
I have come here at a time when the theocracy ruling Iran has set
new records in violating human rights. Through its increasing meddling
in Iraq and pursuit of nuclear weapons, this regime poses the greatest
challenge to the international community.
In the face of this challenge, two options have been raised: The
make-a-deal approach to the clerical regime with the aim of containing
it or inducing gradual change. For the past two decades, Western
countries have subscribed to this approach.
other option is to overthrow the clerical regime by way of an external
war, similar to what occurred in Iraq. No one would want to see
this repeated in Iran.
I have come here today to say that there is a third option: Change
brought about by the Iranian people and the Iranian Resistance.
concession is going to dissuade the mullahs from continuing their
ominous objectives. Let us recall the day after the 1938 Munich
Pact, when Sir Winston Churchill said in the House of Commons, "You
were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor
and you will have war."
proved him right. But let us not allow a repetition of the Munich
experience by nuclear-armed mullahs.
two decades ago, the Iranian Resistance emphasized that a viper
would never give birth to dove. Seven years ago, we warned that
Khatami had neither the power nor the desire to bring about change.
Appeasing the mullahs continued, however, with disastrous
EU's trade with Tehran increased to 16 billion Euros. But even the
bogus moderates did not remain in power as the most extremist factions
have dominated the levers of power.
can also see the consequences of appeasement in the regime's domestic
and foreign policy:
gallows are busy at work in cities and mass public hangings are
on the rise. There were 12 public hangings in the first week of
foreign policy, the export of fundamentalism and the effort to devour
Iraq is continuing relentlessly. Last week, the King of Jordan and
the Iraqi President said that Iran's meddling was threatening the
elections in Iraq. The two leaders underscored that Iran's rulers
seek to install another Islamic Republic in Iraq, emphasizing such
an outcome would upset the geopolitical balance in the region and
in Islamic countries.
To guarantee their survival, the mullahs are trying to build nuclear
weapons. European appeasement provided ample opportunity to the
mullahs to inch closer to the nuclear bomb.
WMD-capable missiles have Eastern and Southern Europe within range
and could reach Western Europe if not stopped.
Iranian Resistance has systematically exposed Iran's nuclear programs.
The EU troika, however, prevented the referral of the mullahs' nuclear
dossier to the UN Security Council during the recent meeting of
the International Atomic Energy Agency. Ten days ago, Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani, the regime's number two, added, "Tehran is set
to be a member of the nuclear club soon and will resume enrichment
after a maximum of six months."
a nutshell, the regime ruling Iran is a medieval theocracy that
lacks the capacity to reform. The principle of the velayat-e faqih
(absolute clerical rule) is the pillar of the Iranian regime's constitution
and cannot be changed even through a referendum. It forms the basis
for its laws and practices and accords little value to the people's
vote. Election charades are only the means to solidify the Supreme
is inherent to the regime and a means to keep Iranian society in
The ruling religious dictatorship needs the export of fundamentalism
in order to survive. Today's efforts to build nuclear weapons and
dominate Iraq arise out of this need. Last month, former Foreign
Minister and the Supreme Leader's senior advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati,
said, "If we take one step back, we will go down the slop of
there be no doubt: European policies such as critical dialogue,
constructive engagement and human rights dialogue will not change
anything as far as the regime is concerned. Appeasement is not the
way to contain or change the regime. Nor is it the path to avoid
only emboldens the mullahs. The answer to fundamentalism is democracy.
I said at the outset, we do not have to choose between appeasement
and surrender. The equation of "either a military invasion
or appeasement" is an exercise in political deception. A third
option is within reach. The Iranian people and their organized resistance
have the capacity and ability to bring about change.
has an ancient civilization and a rich culture. It is the cradle
of Islamic civilization. It has been home to three major revolutions
in the twentieth century. Iranians would never submit to the medieval
regime ruling them. Government surveys show that ninety-four percent
of Iranians want an end to this theocracy. Last week, thousands
of students staged a demonstration against Khatami's presence at
Tehran University on December 6, which marked the Students' Day.
They were shouting, Khatami, you are the enemy of the people, enough
of lies and where is freedom? Despite brutal crackdown, uprisings
have continued to erupt across the nation.
persistence of protests in society reflects the Iranian people yearning
for regime change. The presence of an organized resistance with
120,000 martyrs and more than half-a-million prisoners in the past
quarter century is indicative of the depth and the intensity of
society's rejection of the regime.
forming a pluralistic alternative, a widespread social network and
a liberation army, the resistance has sufficient power and potential
to bring about change in Iran. It has led the Iranian people's movement
for democracy in the most difficult domestic and regional circumstances.
speaking, such barbaric repression reflects only the mullahs' fear
of being overthrown by the Iranian people and resistance. Why in
all their international interactions, the mullahs demand the exertion
of pressure on the resistance movement? Why during discussions on
the nuclear issue and in return for binding international commitments,
they set the condition that Europe blacklist the resistance? Why
did they openly call for guarantees that would prevent the regime's
overthrow? Are all of these not indicative of the mullahs' paranoia
over the third option?
resistance movement has deeps roots in society. As the core of this
resistance, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) has
been fighting for freedom against the dictatorships of the Shah
and Khomeini for 40 years. The PMOI's extensive network across Iran
organizes and gives direction to social protests, provides the movement
with financial assistance and intelligence and reveals Tehran's
most clandestine nuclear, missile and terrorist projects.
a democratic and tolerant vision of Islam, the PMOI is the antithesis
to fundamentalism. It has exposed and isolated the violent and backward
interpretation of Islam by the fundamentalists. The PMOI message
is that Iran's mullahs do not represent Islam. They are Islam's
PMOI is the most serious buffer against the mullahs' fundamentalism
and terrorism. It is a major barrier against Tehran's strategy to
devour Iraq. Recognizing this reality, half-a-million Iraqis issued
a statement earlier this year, demanding the continued presence
of the PMOI in Iraq. Recently, more than 200,000 Iraqi singed a
declaration, condemning the EU-troika's deal with Tehran against
the PMOI as countering the interests of the people of Iran and Iraq.
National Council of Resistance of Iran, the resistance's parliament,
is a coalition of democratic forces that seek a republic based on
the separation of Church and State. Half its members are women.
With the membership of religious and ethnic minorities as well as
different political tendencies, the NCRI represents a majority of
the Iranian nation and is the guarantee for Iran's unity after the
toppling of the mullahs and the peaceful transfer of power.
have called for free elections under the United Nations auspices
repeatedly. The mullahs, however, would never accept that. For us,
democracy is not merely a political program, but an ideal for which
120,000 members of the resistance, including six members of my family
have sacrificed their lives. The NCRI has committed itself to organize
free elections for a constituent assembly within six months of regime
change and handover the affairs to the people's elected representatives
so that society's deep wounds that were caused by eighty years of
dictatorship are healed.
adhering to international covenants, interest in peace and coexistence,
we want a peaceful Iran, free from all weapons of mass destruction.
We want to rebuild Iran, which the mullahs have ruined, through
the people's participation, the return of our experts and friendship
with the rest of the world.
biggest obstacle to this change is the policy pursued by Western
governments. The West is compromising with Tehran at the expense
of the Iranian people and Resistance. The most important, illegitimate
and damaging action was accepting the mullahs' demand to put the
terrorist tag on the Iranian Resistance. This label has no real
basis or legal credibility. It has been used by the United States
and Europe to engage in deals with the mullahs. After Khatami took
office, US officials said that the terror tag was a goodwill gesture
to the mullahs' new president. A senior State Department official
said the designation was in response to the demand by the Iranian
regime and part of the policy of rapprochement with the Iranian
shameful acknowledgement was the official document signed by the
EU troika. First published by Agence France Presse, the document
promised that if the mullahs would accept to limit their nuclear
program, the EU would keep the PMOI in the terrorist list. According
to the agreement, the EU-troika committed themselves to fight against
PMOI activities and provide security assistance to the regime. The
scandalous raid by 1,300 French policemen on the office of the NCRI
in France represents a dark page in post-war Europe. In other countries,
offices of the Iranian Resistance have been attacked in return for
trade concessions from Tehran. In all cases, judicial authorities
declared that there was no basis to the allegations linking the
PMOI to terrorism or any criminal activity. The judiciaries in Germany,
Italy and Britain closed the files on this issue. A French court,
which overturned the order to expel political refugees affiliated
to the PMOI, wrote that the PMOI does not pose a threat to France.
month ago, 500 distinguished jurists from across the world presented
nine legal briefs at a conference in Paris, underscoring that the
terror label on the PMOI violated the European Convention on Human
Rights, the fundamental right to defense and the principle of presumption
of innocence. They emphasized that any judicial proceeding emanating
from the terrorist tag is illegal. A large number of MEPs, majorities
in the parliaments of Italy, Britain, Belgium and Luxembourg as
well as more than 1,000 parliamentarians elsewhere in Europe and
a majority in the U.S. Congress stated repeatedly that the PMOI
is a legitimate resistance movement and should be removed from the
coalition forces, including 10 EU members, acknowledged after a
16-month investigation that the PMOI personnel were under Fourth
Geneva Convention protections and there was no basis to charge any
of its members. If not even a single member of the PMOI is terrorist,
what is the justification for the continuation of this tag?
terror tag against the Iranian Resistance is tantamount to ignoring
the right of a nation to bring about change in Iran. This label
ignores that third option.
The Munich Pact turned a blind eye to Hitler's aggression against
Eastern Europe. Today, a nation's right to freedom is being denied.
seek neither the West's money nor weapons. We want them to remain
neutral between the Iranian people and resistance on one hand and
the ruling regime on the other.
terror tag is a decree that sanctions the suppression of a nation
in the hands of a regime, which fifty-one United Nations resolutions
have condemned for human rights abuse.
removal of the unjust terror tag on the PMOI is a legitimate demand
of the Iranian people. Based on my experience with the people of
France, I am convinced that a solid majority in Europe also support
Let me address in summary form what I have already said to the distinguished
members here and to the EU summit that will convene in Brussels
existence of the clerical regime is entwined with suppression and
the export of terrorism and fundamentalism. It cannot retreat from
any of them.
By installing a puppet Islamic regime in Iraq, the mullahs seek
to play the role of the hegemon in the Islamic world.
The mullahs are secretly continuing their nuclear weapons project
in breach of their commitments.
The third option, namely bringing an end to this tyranny by the
Iranian people and resistance is within reach. The policy of appeasement
emboldens the clerical regime to continue its policies, and would
ultimately impose a war on Western countries.
The terror label against the PMOI lacks legal credibility and was
part of a deal with the mullahs. It is a political obstacle to change
in Iran by the Iranian people and resistance. Removing this unjust
label is necessary for change and the creation of democratic Iran.
The clerical regime is an impediment to the realization of peace
and tranquility in the region and especially in Iraq. A regime change
in Iran and the establishment of freedom and popular sovereignty
in that country is key to peace, stability and coexistence in the
Middle East region and the end to violence and vengeance in the
birth place of Moses, Jesus and Mohammad.
We think of the future. This regime is devoid of a future. Iran
and Europe are neighbors. We have enormous interest is friendship
and cooperation with Europe. I hope that by correcting its policy,
Europe would pave the way for this cooperation with tomorrow's Iran
and guarantee the interests of the European people in their confrontation
expressing my gratitude for your courageous positions in defense
of democracy in Iran, I ask that you employ all means available
to you for a proper European policy toward Iran and the removal
of the terrorist label against the Iranian people's legitimate resistance.
The Iranian people would never forget your efforts in defense of
human rights and democracy.
Stevenson then introduced Rt. Hon. The Lord Slynn of Hadley as one
of the leading experts in international law and a former judge in
the European Court of Justice. The following is the excerpt of his
Hon. The Lord Slynn of Hadley, QC:
I was asked with Prof. Jean-Yves de Cara, a very eminent international
lawyer from Paris, to advise on one question. A question of major
importance to the people at Ashraf (the camp belonging to the People's
Mojahedin Organisation of Iran in Iraq). And that question is the
legal status of the members of the People's Mojahedin Organization
of Iran in Iraq.
question is in two parts. In the first place, what is the status
of the individuals. And that involves looking at the various Geneva
conventions that you as politicians know only too well. The first
suggestion was that perhaps the members of the Mojahedin in Ashraf
were combatants who had been involved in the conflict in Iraq. We
came to the very firm view that they were not combatants with rights
and duties under the appropriate Geneva Conventions. They did not
belong to an armed force on either side. They did not belong to
an irregular force attached to either side. So, they were not combatants.
And, therefore, if they were detained in their camp, they were not
to be treated and did not have to be treated as prisoners of war.
It was quite plain to Prof. de Cara and to me that on the other
hand equally that the people in Ashraf had rights to be protected
persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention, with one or two limited
exceptions, which I will deal with. They were protected under the
Fourth Geneva Convention and we advised to that effect.
second question, which was pretty obvious. What was the position
of the coalition once it occupied Iraq. Did that affect the rights
as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention? We find
it important to stress that the sovereignty of Iraq continued despite
occupation. So, the laws of Iraq continued. And obligations of Iraq
continued, both under the Geneva Convention and under the Hague
Regulation. So, the members of the Mojahedin and their colleagues
were entitled to continue their rights under the Geneva Convention
during the occupation: rights as individuals, rights to property,
rights not to be deported from Iraq by virtue of 49/78 of Convention.
it was clear since Iraq had recognized their status in Iraq, at
Camp Ashraf and the other camps, as refugees, not as refugees under
the 1951 refugee convention, but under Iraq's domestic legislation.
So under this too, as political refugees they had a right under
international law not to be sent back to their own territories.
And these were rights, which had to be respected. But even more
important perhaps as a matter of day-to-day practical reality, it
was quite clear that people in the Camp, member of the People's
Mojahedin, had been recognized as a resistance movement of a political
nature. And as such, they had rights under the international law.
Perhaps, they had rights also as insurgents fighting against the
government of another state. So, it was very important that these
rights as members of a political resistance movement should be protected
when the coalition took over. It was quite plain that for a number
of years they had been recognized as having rights. They had camps
on sites, which were recognized belonging to them and their political
independence was respected.
So, one would say categorically, without the possibility of counter
argument that for them to be sent back to Iran either by either
the coalition or by Iraqi government would be a violation of customary
international law and a grave breach of international human rights
law. And I must say that our arguments put to the coalition on this
were listened to very carefully and with understanding.
have to balance the right to wage resistance in the interest of
democracy. Protecting the liberty and dignity of the people of a
particular country have to be taken care of. Although terrorism
is obviously not to be tolerated, we have to ensure that rights
to achieve democracy, to assist in the achievement of democracy
are not frustrated.
final question, to which Mrs. Rajavi has herself referred is a question
of this new agreement that as long as there is no further nuclear
activity, the Mojahedin will remain on the proscribed list. This
is a matter for you as parliamentarians, as politicians, to decide
whether morally, legally and in international law this is the right
course to take. It might be said that you are either a terrorist
or you are not a terrorist. You don't become a terrorist only if
something else is done or not done. You don't cease to be terrorist
only if something else is done or not done. It is a matter, as Mrs.
Rajavi has stressed, of considerable importance aid for you as parliamentarians.
In his closing remarks Mr. Stevenson said: We recently had Deputy
Foreign Minister of Iran who came to see the Foreign Affairs Committee
in this house and he ludicrously told us that the new missile system
being developed with the act of help of North Korea and with the
ability to deliver a pay load at a total of 2,500 km. from its firing
range, was simply a weapon for defensive necessities against Iran's
I think anyone will understand that the threat now being posed by
Iran which is almost certainly continuing with its nuclear enrichment
program, despite their promises. The fact that they are now developing
a third generation missile delivery system that can travel even
further than 2,500 km.
threat not only to the complete destabilization of that region,
the threat is now to us, to the rest of the world. That is why it
is so vitally important that we support the incredible and courageous
work of Mrs. Rajavi and the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran.
It is only through them that this threat can be removed and it is
only through them that the greatly civilized and gentle people of
Iran can have a return to a democratic and secular government with
respect for women and respect for human rights. And it is through
the leadership of Mrs. Rajavi that we can achieve this objective.
So for that reason, Mrs. Rajavi, I am really, on behalf of all of
our colleagues very grateful for you coming today for addressing
this meeting in the European Parliament.
I hope we may welcoming you back here as the president of Iran in
a very near future indeed.
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