On July 4th, the government of Iran again attacked Ashraf City, which has an estimated sixty Canadian citizens as residents, with Grad missiles. No one thankfully was harmed, but the attack was no doubt done in response to the support expressed by three million Iraqi Shiites for Ashraf, the recent removal of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) from the terrorist list in Britain, and the gathering of seventy thousand mostly Iranians from its four-million person diaspora in Paris on June 28th.
The regime carried out a similar attack on May 26th, following the British Court of Appeal's decision to remove the PMOI from the list of proscribed organizations. Tehran had been preparing the grounds for such aggression. The state-run Mehr News Agency reported on June 29 that the efforts by Britain and the EU to remove the PMOI from the list of terrorist organizations "would provoke the Iraqi people to act and end the presence of the terrorist grouplet (referring to the PMOI) in Iraq once and for all."
On July 3, Ali Dabagh, an Iraqi government spokesman, said: "The arrest warrants for some of the leaders of the PMOI has been issued because of their violation of recognized principles and norms." Abdul Aziz al-Hakim predictably again called for expulsion of the PMOI from Iraq by repeating the allegations conjured up in Tehran.
The call for the expulsion of the PMOI from Iraq by the agents of the Iranian regime, requesting the arrest, putting on trial and punishment of the PMOI leaders and military aggression against the protected persons in Ashraf, violates the principle of non-refoulment, and is a clear violation of international law, international humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Persons of good will in Canada and around the world should now be calling upon the UN Security Council, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Multi-National Force-Iraq, and the Government of Iraq to condemn Tehran's war-making within Iraq. We should ask for the punishment of the perpetrators, the eviction of the Iranian regime from Iraq, and in particular the expulsion of Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the regime's ambassador to Iraq, who is one of the top commanders in Iraq of the terrorist body, the Qods Force.
As co-chair of the Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran, let me also put on the record today some thoughts prepared after being in Paris recently at the huge international rally in support of Mme Maryam Rajavi and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI):
The international community increasingly realizes that Iran's theocracy constitutes one of the world's most oppressive governments. It continues to persecute minorities (Arabs, Azeri's, Kurds, Turks, Baha'is, Jews and Christians) and women in a species of gender apartheid (The life of a woman is worth half that of a man in Iran). It jails, tortures and executes political prisoners, including Canadian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi, who was flogged and murdered in a Tehran prison after being arrested for taking photos of a student protest in 2003.
The misogyny practised by the ayatollahs includes the "right" to execute girls as young as nine (Boys are not deemed adults until 15.). According to the 'Stop Child Executions' organization (www.stopchildexecutions.com), there are more than 150 minors of both sexes on death row across Iran today. Eight were executed in 2007 and two already this year. Mona Mahmudnizhad was executed in the 1980s as a minor for teaching Bahai children in a period when they could not attend regular classes.
Iran's regime is also a growing threat to Middle Eastern and ultimately to world peace. Having captured the democratic revolution against shah Pahlavi in 1979, its clerics have since created a country where many Iranians live in poverty, while increasing amounts of growing national oil revenues are directed towards international terrorism and development of nuclear bombs.
The regime uses negotiations with UN agencies and other governments to conceal programs to make nuclear weapons. In 2002, the opposition coalition, the NCRI, revealed the existence of two hidden nuclear facilities being built in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If successful, President Ahmadinejad would be in a position to fulfill his wish to annihilate neighbouring states and to engage in other state-sponsored nuclear terrorism.
What can Canada do to encourage regional peace, dignity for Iranians and a non-violent transition to better governance? A good first step would be to cease appeasing Iran's dictatorship by encouraging, instead of continuing to undermine, an important democratic opponent: the PMOI. The PMOI is a major part of the NCRI.
Presumably following the earlier leads of the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States, Paul Martin as prime minister declared the PMOI a terrorist organization in Canada in 2005. Jack Straw, who as the UK Home Secretary banned the organization there in 2001, admitted to the BBC five years afterwards that he did so to accommodate Tehran's ayatollahs. Both the EU and the US appear to have done so for the same reason, although the Bush administration went even further when American aircraft bombed PMOI settlements in Iraq during its much-criticised invasion of the country in 2003. The PMOI had renounced violence in 2001.
A motion passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe earlier this year concluded the continent was " no longer following the rule of law" when its Council of Ministers chose to ignore the decision of the EU Court of First Instance, which invalidated the terrorist listing of the PMOI.
Following a seven-year campaign by the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, comprising more than one hundred MPs and peers from across the political spectrum, an order was recently passed by both houses of Parliament, which removed the ban on the PMOI in Britain. The UK Court of Appeal had earlier ordered the government of Gordon Brown to de-proscribe the PMOI, upholding the ruling by the Proscribed Organizations Appeal Commission that the government decision to maintain the ban was "flawed" and "perverse".
The judgement of the appeal court stressed: "Neither in the open material nor in the closed material was there any reliable evidence that PMOI is concerned in terrorism or has an intention to resort to terrorist activities in the future."
The leader of the British committee, Robin Corbett, noted after the ban was lifted, "The real terrorists are in Tehran. They make the roadside bombs, and pay and then train those who use them to kill British and coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the NCRI, joined the anti-shah movement as a university student in the 1970s. His regime executed one of her sisters; the mullahs caused another to die under torture. In Iran's 1980 election, Rajavi received more than 250,000 votes as a candidate for Parliament. In June, 1981, she helped organize a peaceful march of half a million Mojahedin supporters in Tehran, but was forced to flee the country later when Khomeini unleashed his reign of terror.
NCRI members living outside Iran, as a parliament in exile representing a range of political factions, subsequently elected her to be the interim president of Iran in a transitional government to run the country until a national election supervised by the UN can be held within six months of the final day of the mullahs' regime.
Since becoming head of the NCRI, Rajavi has led an international campaign to expose the ayatollahs' violations of human dignity, continuing export of terrorism, and ongoing quest to build nuclear weapons. She and the NCRI stand for a peaceful transition to democracy, a nuclear-weapons free Iran, an end to the death penalty, separation of church and state, cultural and religious pluralism, multi-party democracy, gender equality, freedom of speech, the rule of law and independence of judges, private property and a market economy.
There is absolutely no need to go to war with Iran. It would be a colossal mistake.. It is time instead to encourage a non-violent transition for Iran by recognizing the coalition of Iranians inside and outside their country who seek a democratic nation by quickly de-proscribing the PMOI in Canada, the EU and U.S.