OpinionIran in the World PressLord Maginnis: Freedom or oppression – defining responsibility

Lord Maginnis: Freedom or oppression – defining responsibility


Epolitix: Writing for PoliticsHome, Lord Maginnis calls on the US to remove the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran from the Foreign Terrorist Organisation list. Epolitix

“Justice delayed is justice denied” is a timeless legal maxim. After more than a decade of legal battles and political challenges to their designation as a terrorist organization the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) continue to suffer the consequences of delayed justice. Still they struggle to survive in limbo, as the deadline approaches for the State Department to make a final decision regarding their status on the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list. The designation is a daily impediment to the protection and relocation of members of the PMOI in Iraq, and to date has cost the lives of dozens of individuals.

The Clinton administration first placed the PMOI on the list in 1997 as a “goodwill gesture” to Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami who was dubbed a reformer. Since then, the PMOI has set a legal precedent in the EU and the UK as the only organization in history to have its name removed from FTO lists through purely legal means. Their ongoing battle with the U.S. State Department continues to push that pedestrian legal system, which appears not to care about 3,400 refugees who have to endure the victimisation of the FTO processes.

After more than a decade of litigation, in 2010, the designation was found to have violated due process by a DC circuit court remanding the case back to the State Department six months to review the matter. That order went unheeded, with the State Department failing to respond to the court’s order.

By February this year the PMOI was obliged to file a Writ of Mandamus in the Court of Appeal, urging the court to compel the State Department to take action. The court granted the motion, holding that the State Department had not shown any good cause why it had waited more than 600 days, despite having been given 180 days by congress to make a determination. The court recognised that such this delay had effectively left the PMOI in “administrative limbo”. It ordered the State Department to give a final response within 4 months (by June), and threatened to de-list the PMOI automatically if they missed this deadline.

There appears to be little doubt that the PMOI will eventually be vindicated in their pursuit of justice, but at what cost? Since Iraq has taken over protection of the camp Ashraf where thousands of PMOI residents have been residing for a quarter century, 49 defenceless residents of Ashraf have been killed in two massacres by the Iraqi forces and hundreds more have been wounded. As Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee put it, “The Iraqi ambassador’s office has said the blood is not on the hands of the Iraqi government but is at least partially on the hands of the State Department because the PMOI is listed as a terrorist group and, accordingly, Iraq doesn’t feel that it has to respect the Human Rights of those in the camp”. Hence the attitude of the State Department serves to vindicate every injustice done to the PMOI members whether in Iraq or in Iran – where they are routinely labeled by the mullahs’ regime as candidates for the hangman.

The State Department has repeatedly insisted that the PMOI’s cooperation in the relocation of Ashraf residents to the controversial Camp Liberty would influence their chances of removal from the FTO list. That, despite the fact that such conditions fall outside of the statutory criteria which the Secretary of State is mandated to use to evaluate the PMOI’s status as a terrorist organization.

Continuing enlistment of the PMOI not only poses a mortal threat to their safety in Iraq, but is the largest obstacle to their eventual relocation as refugees to other countries. Perhaps understandably, despite the pleas of the UN, no country appears to be willing to accept the Ashraf community while they continue to be labeled terrorists by the United States.

So far two-thirds of Ashraf residents have moved in five convoys to Camp Liberty, a former U.S. base near Baghdad, which has been described as an open detention centre by the UN Working Group for Arbitrary Detention. Currently, as yet a further gesture of goodwill the PMOI has agreed to transfer another 400 of the remaining Ashraf residents to Liberty. As the residents leave Ashraf, they have literally placed their lives in the hands of the State Department, trusting them to follow through with their promises.

The time has come for the United States to remove this final barrier to the relocation of these refugees. By removing the PMOI from the FTO list the United States will expedite the process of relocation for the Ashraf refugees. The judicial process has shown that the enlistment of the PMOI lacks merit, violates due process, and undermines the legitimacy of the FTO.

Empty words and broken promises do the United States no credit; it frustrates the judicial and democratic basis on which its Constitution survives. The push to de-list the PMOI is not only about fixing a broken FTO policy or even about the precious lives of 3,400 refugees. It is about whether the U.S. in particular and the West in general, offers a viable alternative to oppression and injustice.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, is a member of the British upper chamber, the House of Lords. He was the member of parliament (MP) for Fermanagh and South Tyrone from 1983 to 2001.

Latest news

The World Must Acknowledge the Iranian People’s Right to Self-defense

Victor Hugo once said: “When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.” Throughout history, this has been the...

Iran: 60% Of Population Is Poor

The livelihood baskets of the Iranian people are shrinking dramatically. This, in turn, has introduced new concerns to protect...

The implications of EU’s terrorist designation of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC)

The European Parliament called on January 18 for the European Union to list Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a...

Iran’s Regime Is Hiding Human Rights Violations In Its Prisons

With more than four months into Iran’s latest round of nationwide uprisings, the brutality of the Iranian regime’s security...

How Internet Censorship Is Damaging Iran’s Economy

While in the last four months, internet access in Iran has been cut off or severely limited, the regime’s...

Iran Regime’s Upcoming Budget Bill Will Lead To More Protests

On January 12, the Iranian regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi handed over the country’s budget bill to the parliament.  According...

Must read

U.S. criticizes Iran for religious persecution

Reuters: The United States voiced growing concern on Friday...

Ahmadinejad unveils new ‘bomber’ drone

AFP: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled on Sunday a...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you