NewsSpecial WireThousands protest EU “terror” listing of Iran opposition group

Thousands protest EU “terror” listing of Iran opposition group

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Iran Focus: Brussels, Mar. 10 – Thousands of Iranians on Thursday converged on the European capital Brussels to protest the European Union’s “flagrant disregard” for a December ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which annulled the terrorist listing of the main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI). Iran Focus

Brussels, Mar. 10 – Thousands of Iranians on Thursday converged on the European capital Brussels to protest the European Union’s “flagrant disregard” for a December ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which annulled the terrorist listing of the main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI).

According to organisers, some 30,000 Iranians from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and several other European countries took part in the rally outside the EU headquarters, as a summit of the 27-nation bloc’s leaders was underway.

More than a dozen parliamentarians from various EU states as well as the former Prime Minister of Algeria addressed the rally.

The highlight of the event, however, was a speech given in person by Iranian opposition leader Mrs. Maryam Rajavi.

“We have gathered to protest against the [EU’s”> defiance of the Court ruling by refusing to remove the PMOI from the terrorist list”, Rajavi told cheering supporters. “This makes a mockery of the rule of law”.

“I call up on EU heads of state to respect the Court’s ruling and remove the PMOI from the terrorist list”, she said.

“We offer the world an Iran free of nuclear weapons, seeking peace and security in the region, respecting human rights and democracy, and advocating friendship and cooperation. This is our vision for the future of Iran”.

She urged EU leaders to adopt a “firm” policy against Tehran’s clerical establishment and “side with the Iranian people in their quest for freedom and democracy”.

On December 12, the European Court of First Instance announced that the EU’s decision to place the PMOI in its terrorist list and impose a freeze on its financial assets was “unlawful”.

The EU said in January, however, that it would maintain the group on the list, in a move which was promptly denounced by numerous European Parliamentarians.

“Those who are hand in hand with the mullahs are also accountable for the mullahs’ crimes”, chanted protesters, referring to EU states that continue to give precedence to their financial ties with Tehran over Iran’s violation of human rights.

The demonstrators called on EU leaders to comply with the court ruling.

At a conference before the rally began, the Vice-President of the European Parliament Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca presented a list of signatures of over 1,000 lawmakers from 23 European countries who had condemned the EU’s “defiance” of the ECJ verdict.

When the rally ended, a delegation of lawmakers entered the EU building and held talks with officials there on the matter.

The rally was swiftly condemned by officials in Tehran.

Iranian state television reported that the Foreign Ministry had summoned the envoys of Belgium and Germany, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, to protest the permission given to the group to hold its rally in Brussels.

Belgian consul Paul de Vos and German ambassador to Tehran Herbert Honsowitz got an earful from the Foreign Ministry’s Director General for Western European Affairs Ebrahim Rahimpour who issued a stark warning that such events could “adversely affect the much-needed confidence-building measures in Iran-EU ties”.

On a trip to Malaysia, Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi blasted the EU for allowing the protest to take place.

The PMOI was listed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union in mid-2002, in what the EU’s then-Spanish leadership called “a goodwill gesture to Tehran”.

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