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Text of speech by Alejo Vidal-Quadras in event marking PMOI’s 50th anniversary

Alejo Vidal-Quadras

NCRI – Text of speech by Dr Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice-President of the European Parliament and President of the International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ), in a meeting with Iranian youths associations in Germany in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of Iran’s main opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, PMOI (Mujahedin-e Khalq, MEK):

Friday 28 August 2015

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much for inviting me to Berlin and for this warm reception. I am delighted to see you and especially the representatives of the young generation of the resistance.

The active presence of the youth in this endeavour carries a very important message: It shows that this opposition, despite the brutal repression by the mullahs, has the amazing capacity to rebuild itself after each attack and consequently has a bright future.

When we talk about repression we should remember the mass executions of over 30,000 PMOI political prisoners in the summer of 1988. The reason they were executed was that they refused to denounce PMOI and its leadership. They resisted and although many of them were supposed to be freed after some years in prison, they were all executed by the orders of Khomeini. They were buried in mass graves in a cemetery in Tehran and their families do not know where to go to mourn for their loved ones. This was a crime against humanity for which the top officials of this regime including some of the members of the present cabinet of Rouhani have to be tried and punished according to international law.

In a few days, the PMOI will be 50 years old. I am very delighted and honoured to share with you the joy of celebrating this 50th anniversary of the foundation of the PMOI – The Golden Jubilee.

As you know on the 5th September of 1965, three students in Tehran, Mohammad Hanif-Nejad with two of his friends, set up the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran. The PMOI would grow to become by far the largest and most active political movement in Iranian history.

In these many years of close cooperation with you, fifteen years to be precise, I have realized that not only you are the backbone of a nationwide resistance against the ruling religious dictatorship, but a treasure of moral, cultural and political values in today’s world. Today the PMOI in advocating a tolerant, democratic Islam, has become the anti-thesis to Islamic extremism which has ruined the whole Middle East and is leading today this strategic region of the world towards catastrophe.

The PMOI is the centre of a political coalition, the NCRI, which fights for democratic and pluralistic Iran and says religion and state should respect each other independence. Several thousands of parliamentarians have expressed their support for the political platform of the NCRI. The presence of a Muslim woman at the top of this movement, who calls for a secular and democratic Iran, is very significant and is really a revolution in the thinking and attitude in the Islamic world. As we all know one of the main characteristics of Islamic fundamentalism is their degrading and harsh stance towards women. So a woman who is a real leader, and a very charismatic one, and not just a formality, represents indeed a revolution which can shake very positively the Islamic world.

It is a fact that the PMOI have had, to say it softly, a very hard time in these five decades. Yes, 50 years of hardships and ups and downs, of hope and despair, of defeats and victories. It is remarkable how they have been nearly destroyed several times but again they have managed almost miraculously to rise from the ashes.

For example, 5 years after their foundation, they received a brutal crackdown by the secret police of the Shah, SAVAK. Almost the entirety of its leadership and the vast majority of its members and supporters were imprisoned, including Massoud Rajavi. Massoud was a graduate of political law from Tehran University and had joined the PMOI when he was 20. He was only spared execution because of the efforts of his elder brother, Professor Kazem Rajavi, a renowned human rights advocate in Switzerland.

Another big blow was in 1975 when a group which call themselves Marxists, tried to destroy the PMOI from within and even killed several leading members who did not accept to change the organisation’s ideology and direction along Marxist lines. In fact the PMOI as an organization was for a while actually destroyed in 1975 but Massoud Rajavi, who was still in prison, managed to recruit new members and went on to play a vital role in returning the movement to its true and original founding principles and ideology.

After Khomeini came to power in 1979, he soon began repressing the PMOI and initiated the mass executions in 1981. This continuous persecution reached its peak in 1988, when 30000 of its members were executed in a massacre of horrifying dimension. So far the Iranian theocracy has executed over 120,000 political prisoners, the majority of them from the PMOI, and this stream of crimes flows with no interruption in our present days.

But Khomeini was unable to destroy the PMOI and again under the leadership of Massoud and later of Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian Resistance has managed not only to survive but to go forward stronger than before.

The PMOI has not only been brutally repressed by the mullahs but has been a victim of the appeasement policy of the West with Iran. The only group that the Iranian regime has permanently focused on has been the PMOI. That is why in every negotiation with the West, the mullahs have urged Western governments to restrict their activities. In 1997 the PMOI was placed on the terrorist list of USA as a goodwill gesture towards President Khatami, who claimed to be, in the same way Rouhani is doing nowadays, a moderate. This blacklisting of PMOI was soon followed by the UK and the European Union.

The mullahs even tried to put the name of NCRI, the political coalition of the resistance, on the EU terror list, but they failed.

You can imagine when the main democratic opposition of a brutal dictatorship like the one oppressing Iran, which has been the main sponsor of international terrorism, is placed paradoxically on a terrorist list, how difficult life becomes for this opposition. And when I say “opposition” I do not mean only the PMOI, but all opposition, because this blacklisting did not only affect the PMOI, but it was a big obstacle for any attempt to bring democracy to Iran.

I got involved exactly at this critical period with the Iranian Resistance. At that time I was in my first term in the European Parliament and had been elected as Vice-president of the Chamber. I knew that the PMOI were put on the EU list during the time when my country Spain was in the rotating presidency of the EU. So when two Iranian Resistance members came to see me and explained about their story, I was moved but I still made a lot of research and even took a skeptical position because it was indeed a sensitive issue. I researched and even played a devil’s advocate. But soon I realized the great injustice done to the Iranian opposition and I decided to fight for them to be taken off the black list.

Politically speaking, I also understood that the PMOI and NCRI were and are the best chance of confronting the regime of the Ayatollahs, a political and ideological project which is diametrically opposed to all the democratic values I believe in.

I started this campaign with two good and distinguished colleagues in the European Parliament: A Socialist MEP from Portugal, Paulo Casaca, and a British Conservative, Struan Stevenson. We three decided to challenge our Governments as well as the EU. We really risked our political reputation. Some of my colleagues made huge sacrifices in their lives and career. But now after almost one and a half decade I can say that it was a right decision for me and I will never regret it. History has shown that we were right and despite the fact that at first it looked absolutely impossible that PMOI would ever be removed from these black lists, an enthusiastic and efficient international legal and political campaign, under the competent leadership of Mrs Rajavi, was rewarded with success, and justice was done.

The reason I got into a little detail on this is because I think the young generation of Iran should know what we have been through in particular that the mullahs are also busy making a lot of conspiracies by spreading misinformation and trying to demonise the PMOI and its leadership. Anyone who has doubts about the support for PMOI could just see how much the mullahs are prepared to do and pay to destroy this movement to arrive to the conclusion that the PMOI is a cause worth to fight for. So the enemy tells us that we are on the right track. I call on you here to challenge and clear such misinformation against the Iranian Resistance.

Even though the PMOI is no longer on these lists, their sufferings have not ended. Several thousands of them who have been in Iraq in Camp Ashraf and now Camp Liberty are cruelly repressed and are not duly protected because of the betrayal by the American Government who had promised to protect them and of the United Nations former envoy in Iraq, Martin Kobler, a name that must registered in the history of infamy, who actively collaborated with the Iranian regime and with Prime Minister Nuri Maliki of Iraq. In fact we are approaching the anniversary of the 1 September massacre in Camp Ashraf. You may know that I was head of a delegation who went to Iraq at the end of 2008 to visit Ashraf. I met hundreds of PMOI members there and I have nice memories with them. Unfortunately many of them have been killed, and this issue still hurts me very deeply. Some years later I went to Albania in 2014 and met many of your colleagues there having the relief of seeing them safe and properly treated by the Albanian authorities.

After I left the Parliament, I expanded the NGO which we had formed in 2008 for the delisting, the International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ) and we are trying to do as much as we can for the residents of Camp Liberty and for their protection and wellbeing. Some prominent German politicians such as former Vice-president of European Commission Günter Verheugen and Prof. Horst Teltschik, former Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, are members of the board of ISJ.

My advice to my Iranian friends and especially the young generation of Iran is to not hesitate. We have to get rid of the mullahs. We have to do this as soon as possible. This regime is not just the enemy of Iranian people but is the enemy of humanity. We are not deceived by some policy makers who want to appease this regime and have called Rouhani a moderate. What moderation? This is a sad joke. With over 2000 executions under Rouhani, he exhibits a world record as a mass murderer. The regime has just executed a young Kurdish political prisoner, Behrouz Alkhani, last Wednesday and they did not even wait to receive a decision about his appeal, ignoring the most elementary principles of the rule of law, even of its own legal system. But the EU, Mrs Frederica Mogherini and European Governments are cowardly silent and more interested to rush to Tehran to take photos with Iranian authorities. Such an attitude only encourages the regime to continue its crimes against the people of Iran.

We should not also be fooled by the recent nuclear agreement. The only reason the mullahs accepted to negotiate was not because they suddenly became sensible and moderate. No! It was only because of sanctions and international pressure. It has been a big mistake to ease this pressure and allow billions of euros to be given to the regime which will only use this money for more terrorism at a global level and export of Islamic fundamentalism.

So my view is that we need to have true democracy in Iran and we cannot compromise on this. If we want democracy, our best chance is to topple the mullahs and every believer in human rights, civil liberties and open society in the world should support the PMOI and the democratic alternative for Iran, the NCRI, because they are the best chance for real change. I am not a newcomer to politics, and in my experience working with the Iranian Resistance in these years, I have realized that they do not want anything for themselves and they are making sacrifices on a daily basis from the newest members up to the leadership. These sacrifices are for freedom in Iran and nothing else. It is the same in Camp Liberty, Tirana, Paris, Brussels or here in Berlin. They could have had better lives but they have decided to give up many things in order to fight for their country and their citizens. This is my personal perception after fifteen years of work hand in hand with you and that is why you can always count on my admiration and my full support. And let me say more: I consider out of the many things that I have done in my political life to defend civil liberties and democracy, my collaboration with you as the most important of all. Sometimes you are so kind to thank me for my help to your cause, but it is me that must thank you for the opportunity to participate in an undertaking so decisive for the future of Iran and of the whole world. There is no doubt that a democratic Iran, free from the clutches of the criminals that have been in power in your country for the last thirty five years, would represent the largest step towards global peace and stability that the world has witnessed since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Until now, you have benefited from the warm support of thousands of parliamentarians from five continents and also from the fair decisions of the judiciary on both sides of the Atlantic. It is time for the Executive branch, for the Governments of democratic countries, to change their attitude in relation to the PMOI and the NCRI and understand that these organizations are the real solution to the Iranian issue. The solution is not a policy of appeasement of a regime that will never evolve, because of its evil nature that needs violence, crime and brutality to ensure its own survival.

Dear friends, whenever I go to the big gatherings of the NCRI in Paris, I see the enthusiasm of thousands of Iranians and hundreds of foreign guests to promote democracy in Iran and especially I confirm the support of the young people for this liberation movement. This is for me and for all veterans a source of energy and a great encouragement. But we have to do much more and I use this opportunity to invite the young generation inside and outside Iran to make no delay in supporting this Resistance, to clear any misunderstandings and to be relentlessly active until we put an end to the criminal regime that oppresses the Iranian people and threatens the whole world. I am certain you will never give up, and be sure that you have many friends in Europe and in many other places that will never fail you.

Thank you very much.