Under section 3 of the Terrorism Act, the UK Home Secretary has the power to proscribe organizations believed to be “concerned in terrorism”. Both the wide definition of terrorism and the vagueness of the grounds for proscription could lead to abuse the law in support of the illegitimate organizations rather than their proscription.
Proscription does not need to be proved in court. The organization does not get to defend itself against the proscription. It can only appeal against proscription after it occurs and the Home Secretary can in effect criminalize the members and supporters of an organization without even having to prove any wrongdoing on their part.
Terrorist organizations proscribed under this Act are banned to operate in the UK and the following are also illegal in relation to them:
– Membership of a proscribed organisation.
– Inviting support and fundraising for the proscribed association.
– Managing or assisting in the arranging of meeting to support or further the activities, or to be addressed by a member of a proscribed organisation.
– Addressing a meeting where the address encourages support for the proscribed organisation.
The UK proscribed Mujahedin Khalq (MKO) a terrorist organization in 2001. The application of the law seems, however, to be heavily influenced by political considerations. Nevertheless, the MKO operates freely in the UK without any hindrance while according to the Terrorism Act, its activities are considered outlawed. It produces and publishes a freely available newspaper ‘Mojahed’ in the UK as well as operating a TV station, ‘IranNTV’, in London. Both of these are regularly used to fundraise for the MKO and advertise bank accounts based in the UK. The authorities never seized the organization’s assets and arrested none of its members and supporters.
According to MKO’s own publications, nearly twenty related associations and communities are active in the UK and it freely holds supporting rallies and arranges meetings with some parliamentarians. On 22 March 2005, the Anglo-Iranian Community co-chaired a symposium in support of the organization at Church House, Westminster. The gathering was attended and supported by dozens of members of both Houses of Parliament from the three major political parties.
On 7 July 2005, the very day London was attacked by terrorists, a meeting of parliamentarians and lawyers was held in the House of Lords to announce the formation of a group of British lawyers to challenge the proscription of the PMOI. Any Londoner could easily read a flier advertising a meeting to be held on 27 October 2005 at House of Commons, Committee Rome 10 with the speakers Andrew Mackinlay MP, Dr Rudi Vis MP, pro. Alison Assiter, Ms. Christine Aziz, and Ayatollah Jalal Ganjei, chairman of the Religious Tolerance Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a front for the terrorist MKO.
On 16 December 2005, NCRI, MKO’s political wing, website announced a statement by 405 Parliamentarians from both houses (279 MPs and 126 Peers) and all three main parties in Britain who called on the government to remove the terror label against the PMOI as a move for democratic change in Iran. Again, on 30 November 2005 the same NCRI website released: “Over 1,300 British lawyers signed a statement, ‘Iran: A Call for Justice,’ calling upon the Home Secretary to de-proscribe Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (“the PMOI”). This was announced in a symposium held today at the House of Lords’ Moses hall. The text of the statement is as follows”.
Again, NCRI in a Persian language communiqué, announced that the Mojahedin had arranged for a ‘Plaque of Support’ to be presented by some unelected members of the House of Lords, Lord Slynn of Hadley, Lord Russell-Johnston and Baroness Harris of Richmond on July 1, 2006, to Maryam Rajavi, the self-elected head of the terrorist MKO.
Although Jack Straw nearly two months ago in response to demands of de-proscribing the MKO gave a definite ‘no’, yet the question is why the UK government fails to be a good observant of the full implementation of the Terrorism Act? It is outrageous that a proscribed terrorist organization can openly hold a bank account and fundraise with the support of members of the UK Houses of Parliament.
Mojahedin.ws – A. Afshar – August 30, 2006