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Iran: Australian organization raises alarm over Iranian regime’s ploys against PMOI

Iraq constitutionNCRI, September 6 – In a letter to President George W. Bush whose copy was sent to Jalal Talabani, Iraqi President; Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, Iraqi Prime Minister; Hoshyar Zebari, Iraqi Foreign Minister; Tony Blair, British Prime Minister and Zalmay Khalilzad U.S. ambassador to Iraq, the Director of Peace and Justice Center in Australia, Father Claude Mostowik, raised his concerns over Iranian Regime’s meddling in Iraq and its ploys against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran in that country. Excerpts of his letter follows:

“In recent months, meddling in Iraq by the Iranian regime has been stepped up. As well as this, it has made efforts to eliminate Iranian political refugees and dissidents based in that country.

“On August 4, two members of the main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), were abducted. On August 24, there was the attempted kidnapping of seven other PMOI members. At the same time, three Iranian Kurds in a refugee camp west of Baghdad were cold-bloodedly murdered. These incidents highlight the Iranian regime’s increasing use of violence and terrorism to deal with Iranian dissidents and refugees in Iraq.

“We are alarmed that these assassinations and abductions were carried out by agents of the Iranian regime who have infiltrated Iraq’s police force and the Interior Ministry.

“Newsday reporting from Iraq on August 27 said:

‘Most troubling for U.S. policy in the Middle East is that many Iraqis believe the police who commit these killings are working ultimately for Iran, where most of them lived for many years in exile from Saddam Hussein. Sources with access to U.S. intelligence confirm that Shia Iran has infiltrated large numbers of agents into both police security and Interior Ministry paramilitary forces.’

“Our concerns for the safety and security of the thousands of PMOI members in Camp Ashraf have been compounded by a clause in the new draft Iraqi constitution that will be put to a referendum on October 15.  These members of the PMOI are protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention and has been recognized by the U.S.-led Coalition in Iraq.

“Article 21 of the Draft Constitution reads:

a. An Iraqi shall not be handed over to foreign bodies and authorities.

b. Political asylum to Iraq shall be regulated by law and the political refugee shall not be turned over to a foreign body or forcefully returned to the country from which he has fled.

c. Political asylum shall not be granted to those accused of committing international or terror crimes or to anyone who has caused Iraq harm.

“It is Section c of article 21 that arouses our profound concern and prompts us to seek your assistance.

“Reliable sources within clerical regime in Iran reveal that Tehran’s influence was behind the inclusion and wording of this clause. It aims to foreclose the possibility of official recognition of political refugee status in Iraq for members of the PMOI.

“The wording is loose and the term ‘accused’ is very broad. It leaves open the possibility of arbitrary rejection of legitimate asylum requests.  No other Constitution uses such terms to disqualify person from political asylum. The clause also conflicts with the relevant articles on political asylum under international law, including the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

“The people at Camp Ashraf, and their families in Iran and abroad, are greatly worried that the Iranian regime, through its proxies in Iraq, will use this clause, after the adoption of the Constitution, to pave the way for the expulsion or forcible return of Camp Ashraf residents to Iran.
“I would greatly appreciate it if you could use your good offices to voice these concerns of our organization with regard to this clause in the Iraqi Constitution and the danger that it could be manipulated.”