- - Monday, July 7, 2014

In “Rally of Strange Bedfellows” (Web, June 29), Iran’s principal opposition movement, Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), is “strangely” smeared as “former terrorists.” The article’s take on the largest rally of Iranian opposition is flawed.

The international gathering in Paris on June 27 called for a democratic and non-nuclear Iran, and urged the United States to carry out its commitment to protect MEK members in Camp Liberty in Iraq. Over 600 parliamentarians and political dignitaries from 69 countries and all five continents of the world joined 100,000 Iranians, according to media reports.

Recasting this enormous gathering of Iranian freedom activists and world leaders as the backing of former “terrorists” muffles a crucial message from the Middle East. The rally gave voice to the message of moderation, democracy and a non-nuclear Iran at a crucial juncture in regional politics.

The MEK’s terrorist listing was one of the greatest blunders of America’s Iran policy. According to a number of U.S. officials, the Clinton administration blacklisted the opposition movement to placate the Iranian regime and instigate a thaw in bilateral relations. Iran took the concession and laughed all the way to the bank. With its largest opposition in U.S.-made shackles, it infiltrated Iraq with throngs of terrorists, killed Americans and spread real terror.

The injustice of the listing was so clear that even The Washington Times editorial board argued for delisting the group back in January 2010. It underscored the popular support for delisting, writing, “Removing the [MEK] from the list of foreign terrorist organizations is one of the few issues on which both parties in Congress agree.” The MEK was eventually delisted after the highest courts in the U.K., EU and the U.S. ruled unanimously that there was not an iota of evidence linking it to terrorism.

Having failed to eliminate the opposition group, the clerical regime in Tehran has been engaged in a massive campaign to smear and demonize it. A December 2012 report by the Library of Congress underscored, “The Iranian government and its intelligence apparatus consider MEK the most serious dissident organization … . After the 1991 Persian Gulf War against Iraq, [the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security] made anti-MEK psychological warfare one of its main objectives, but MEK nonetheless has remained a viable organization.”

The claim by an “anonymous ” source that the MEK issues “death threats” to its detractors is so far off the charts that not even the most outlandish Iranian regime elements have given it serious pause. The ludicrous comment, designed to hammer the charge that MEK has no support among Iranians, is belied by simple facts. Last month, the regime executed an MEK activist, Gholamreza Khosravi, whose most serious charge was providing financial assistance to the organization. According to Amnesty International, he was severely tortured and asked to “confess” against the MEK on television. If the heroic perseverance of Khosravi and 120,000 others who gave their lives for the MEK does not show the extent and depth of the organization’s grass roots support in Iran, what would?

As John Adams said, “facts are stubborn things.” The fact is that to the great dismay of the mullahs and those seeking acquiescence with Tehran, the MEK is an important and key element of the Iranian political landscape that is gaining prominence with the passage of time.

SHAHIN GOBADI

Spokesman for the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran

Paris