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EU's flawed combat against terrorism

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"Injustice is the best ally for terrorism," reiterated Dick Marty, the Swiss senator in a press conference last week following the ratification of a resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe condemning the methods used by the EU and the UN Security Council for blacklisting groups and individuals.

This resolution by Europe's human rights watchdog, was based on a report pointing out that the use of terrorist lists by the EU and UN is arbitrary and violates fundamental rights, thus putting at risk the very the fabric of a democratic society, i.e. the rule of law

What is more tragic is that, under the cloak of combating terrorism, the terrorist list in some cases has been used a bargaining chip with rough dictatorships and terror masters. The treatment of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), the principal Iranian resistance movement, is very telling as it was singled out as one of the most egregious cases in the Council of Europe's report. As Dick Marty put it, cases such as the PMOI controversy are an example of the "disastrous" effects of the blacklists.
The PMOI, a democratic anti-fundamentalist Islamic movement, has been the primary victim of the clerical regime's suppression at home. Tens of thousands of its members and supporters have been executed by the religious tyrants ruling Iran over the years. Its members have been the primary target of the Iranian hit-squads all over Europe. The Iranian resistance movement was classified as a terrorist organization in the UK in March 2001 on the behest of the Iranian government, as Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary of Britain acknowledged in an 2006 interview: "" ¦They (the Iranian government) were demanding and actually successfully of me when I was the Home secretary that we should ban a terrorist organization MEK (PMOI) that was working against Iran."

As a subsequent of 9/11, the EU started to draw its terrorist list in 2001. In May 2002, as the EU terrorist list was updated, the PMOI, the pivotal member organization of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the coalition of Iranian opposition groups, was added to the list. Here too, the oppressors of the Iranian people turned to Her Majesty's government to do their dirty work.

The PMOI successfully challenged its listing in EU's Court of First Instance. In December 2006, in a landmark verdict, the Court of First Instance annulled the inclusion of the PMOI in the terrorist list. The EU Council chose not to appeal the verdict.

The ruling reiterated that during the listing process, the fundamental rights of the PMOI, including "the right to a fair hearing, the obligation to state reasons and the right to effective judicial protection"  were infringed.

If that were not enough to get the Iranian resistance movement off the hook, 35 prominent members of both Houses of the British Parliament from all three major parties submitted an appeal to a special court, the Proscribed Organizations Appeals Commission (POAC), urging the removal of the PMOI from the UK terrorist list. This Commission was specifically set up by the British Government to review appeals by proscribed organizations.

Subsequent to 6 months of exhaustive review, including 5 days of open and 2 days of closed hearing, on November 30, 2007 the Court ruled against the British Government and the proscription. The Court ordered the Government to lay an order before Parliament removing the PMOI from the proscribed list.

In the unprecedented ruling, the Court described the Government's failure to de-proscribe the PMOI as 'perverse' and 'flawed' while further adding that the decision 'must be set aside'. The Court stated: "We recognize that a finding of perversity is uncommon. We believe, however, that this Commission is in the (perhaps unusual) position of having before it all of the material that is relevant to this decision." The PMOI inclusion in the EU terrorist list was condemned by more than 8500 lawyers throughout Europe, as well as a majority of members of parliaments in the UK, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, Norway, and hundreds of members of the European Parliament.

One would have expected that the EU would pay heed to all these court rulings and growing chorus to remove the PMOI from the terrorist list. But this blatant violation of the rule of law by individuals whose duty it is to uphold them continues. What is equally serious, this great injustice imposed on the Iranian people and their Resistance in order to appease the fundamentalist dictatorship persists.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI pointed out that by deciding to maintain the PMOI on its terrorist list, the EU Council is absolutely isolated and is defying two pillars of European democracy, namely Europe's judicial and legislative institutions. Insisting on the same policy, the Council is not only in breach of the law, but also has defied the will of representatives of millions of Europeans who are represented in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. She called on the EU member states to remove the PMOI from the terrorist list and not allow such lawlessness and scandal, originally imposed on the Council by the British government, to continue.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," wrote Martin Luther King while sitting in a Birmingham Jail, in 1963.

So if EU wants to be taken seriously and be effective in the fight against terrorism, it should fight injustice and stop trampling on the rights of the Iranian Resistance that wants to wrest Iran from the clutches of their hideous, Islamic fundamentalism mongering oppressors.

 

Researcher in philosophy at Stockholm University and an expert on Iran

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