AP: An exiled Iranian opposition group on Tuesday accused Tehran of interfering with the drafting of Iraq’s constitution in order to put pressure on Iranian dissidents living in Iraq. Associated Press
LONDON – An exiled Iranian opposition group on Tuesday accused Tehran of interfering with the drafting of Iraq’s constitution in order to put pressure on Iranian dissidents living in Iraq.
Supported by several British legislators and human rights lawyers, the National Council of Resistance of Iran claimed that article 21 of Iraq’s draft constitution, which deals with asylum for refugees, could be used to expel members of the Mujahedeen Khalq, also known as the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), who for years fought Iran’s Islamic rulers from a base in Iraq.
“Having failed in all its ploys to have the PMOI members expelled from Iraq … the Iranian regime has turned to meddling in the Iraqi draft constitution and insertion of article 21, which acts against the rights of refugees in Iraq, as a means in its own view of placing pressure on the PMOI,” said Hossein Abedini, a spokesman for the foreign affairs committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, at a news conference in London.
Abedini claimed Iran had been able to infiltrate government ministries and political parties in Iraq, where Shiite politicians with close ties to Iran rose to power in January elections.
Iran has repeatedly denied allegations, which have been leveled in the past by both U.S. and Iraqi officials, that it is interfering in the Iraqi political process.
Lord Gordon Slynn, a retired British judge, said the wording of article 21, which prohibits refuge for those accused of international or terrorism crimes, contravened the Geneva Convention on human rights for refugees.
“The provision of the constitution does not distinguish between an accusation on reasonable grounds and one that is pulled out of the air and made for some ulterior motive,” Slynn said.
Abedini said that if the clause stayed in the constitution, PMOI members could be expelled to Iran where they could face execution.
PMOI was disarmed by U.S. forces in Iraq soon after the March 2003 invasion.
Last year, the now-dissolved interim Iraq Governing Council said the paramilitary group should be expelled because of “the black history of this terrorist organization and for the crimes it had committed against our people and our neighbors.”
Supporters say they are the legitimate opposition to the hardline government in Tehran and are committed to the end of fundamentalism.