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Update on Mojahedin Khalq Organisation in Europe

A number of British MPs in the House of Commons discussed the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.

In the meeting, the report of which was published by British Parliament’s website, UK Foreign Office minister Kim Howells responded to some MPs’ request for lifting MKO from terror list: "On the proscription of Mojahedin-e Khalq, the Home Office rejected an application for de-proscription last year and that is, strictly speaking, a matter for the Home Office."

"The MEK is proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000 and its involvement in violence means that it has little support in Iran. The MEK claims to support human rights and democracy, but it is hard to square that with its authoritarian structure and claims by respected human rights non-governmental organisations of serious violations of the rights of its own members," he added.

In response to protests on terrorist designation of MKO, Mark Pritchard said:

"All solutions on Iran, whether by the international community or Iranian exiles, should be peaceful. They shouldn’t be aimed at weakening the position of current regime."

"I believe that we should respect Foreign Office’s decision to band the MKO".

 "Mojahedin-e Khalq organization remains on EU’s terror list," French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said.

In an interview with Iranian reporters in Paris, he added: "In France, this organization is still under prosecution."

"Prosecution began in 2000 and led to the detention of 165 members of MKO in 2003 and the trial of Maryam Rajavi," he said.

"French officials act in the framework of law and there’s no flexibility in dealing with the MKO."

In response to a question on France’s instance towards Hizballah and whether it was on EU’s terror list, Blazy said: "No, Hizballah is not on EU’s terror list."

"In our view, Hizballah has members in Lebanon’s Parliament. We like it to turn to a political movement from an armed one."

  The European Parliament, in a meeting Tuesday, clarified that a European court ruling on the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) in December referred to procedural matters and in no way changes the status of the MKO as a terrorist group.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht has reportedly said that he will use his veto power in the EU Council to stop any attempt to remove the MKO from the EU’s terror list.

The EP’s Committee for Relations with Iran held a meeting on "the MKO and consequences of the judgment of the European Court of First Instance of 12 December’ to unfreeze the assets of the MKO. EU put the MKO on its terror list and ordered continued freezing of its funds in 2002.

"It is not a ruling on substance. It is a procedural decision stating that the EU Council did not provide the right to a hearing.

So it is a procedural shortcoming," German MEP Michael Gahler, who is also vice-president of the EP’s Foreign Relations Committee, told the meeting.

He said that the EU had sent a letter to the MKO stating the reasons why the group should be kept on the terror list.

 "So it’s not correct to believe that there was any other reason.

The problem lies in a procedural error. The MKO will try again and appeal against a final decision, but I am quite sure that the Council will not go along with the ruling (of the court) at the end of the day," said Gahler.

A legal advisor to the EU Council also explained that the European court ruling had reference to procedural matters relating to the obligations to justify the reasons and give the MKO the right to a hearing, but it does not affect the common EU position to maintain the MKO in its terror list.

Josy Dubie, Belgian senator and a former war correspondent for a Belgian TV channel, condemned the MKO as a terrorist organization.

Dubie told the meeting that he covered the eight-year imposed war in the 1980s from both sides, that is, Iran and Iraq, and witnessed MKO fighters launching attacks against their own country (Iran).

"What I discovered was a sect, a group of men and women completely and irrationally devoted to their leader, Masoud Rajavi, which shocked me deeply. I had a feeling that I was among a group of fanatics who followed the orders of their leader blindly," he added.

Dubie, since 1999, has been a member of the Belgian Senate and vice-chair of its Foreign Relations committee. He said he has been recently visited by some MKO members.

"They target people they consider to be important and try to influence them. They try to convince these people that they are a democratic movement fighting for their country. But that is the opposite of what I saw," said the Belgian senator, who also clarified that he had no sympathy for the current regime of President Ahmadinejad.

"So when I received them in my office, I told them what I had seen and they did not contact me again because when they `realize it is not going to work they abandon you and look for somebody else,’" he said.

When Maryam Rajavi was invited by certain members of the Belgian Senate, they (MKO) claimed they had been officially invited to the senate.

"I deny this propaganda. The Belgian Senate itself refused to receive Maryam Rajavi," he said.

Some individual members of the Belgian Senate, including its President Anne-Marie Lizin, received Rajavi, who lives in Paris, last October. "A large number of senators protested, including myself," said Dubie.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht asked the senate about this matter and said he was very sore about this meeting and regretted that she had been invited by some senators.

De Gucht reportedly told the senate that the MKO had been responsible for hundreds of attacks in Iran and elsewhere, practiced torture and used emotional blackmail.

Dubie said he asked De Gucht in the senate about the court ruling on the MKO and whether the minister was in favor of removing the MKO from the list of terrorist groups.

According to Dubie, the Belgian foreign minister’s answer was:

"My answer to your question is very simple. I am in favor of keeping the PMOI on the European list and any decision to lift them or not to lift them requires the decision of all of the EU member states.

Belgium has a veto here and is prepared to use it."

"I can reassure you that the council has no intention of taking the MKO off the list," said the minister.

 Mohammad Hossein Sobhani, a repentant MKO member and an author, related his long and bitter experience with the terror group in Iraq — how he was arrested and kept in solitary confinement for eight years in Asharf Camp and then in Abu Ghraib.

He asked the European parliamentarians not to use the "violations of human rights in Iran" as an excuse to support criminal terror groups such as the MKO.

Portugese MEP Paul Casaca, who organized the pro-MKO group ‘Friends of a Free Iran’ in the EP, had objected that since no MKO member was invited to speak, Sobhani should also not be allowed to talk in the meeting.

German MEP Michael Gahler said the agenda should not be changed.

"A voting of MEPs took place and the agenda was approved as it was." The chair of the EP’s delegation from its Committee for Relations with Iran, Angelika Beer, said she decided not to invite the MKO "because the information provided to me told me that the MKO has not been deleted from the list of terrorist organizations and therefore I did not find it correct to invite them."

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