EU strikes People's Mujahideen from terror list

The EU has agreed to remove the People's Mujahideen of Iran, the country's main opposition group, from its list of terrorist organisations. The group and its allies have long accused the EU of keeping it blacklisted in an effort to appease Tehran.


AFP - The People's Mujahideen, Iran's main opposition movement that the European Union removed on Monday from its list of terrorist organisations, has been on the bloc's watch list since May 2002 and treated as a terrorist group by Washington since 1997.

Of Marxist and Islamic conviction, the People's Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI), otherwise known as the Mujahideen-e Khalq Organisation, was founded in 1965 after a split within the nationalist Liberation Movement of Iran (LMI), led by Mehdi Bazargan, the first prime minister after the Iranian revolution.

The group was founded to fight Iran's royalist regime and most of its founding members died in the prisons of the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

Now it seeks to overthrow the country's current Islamic republic.

After a brief period as a legal organisation with the Islamic revolution of 1979, the organisation was outlawed by Iran in 1981.

In June of that year a bomb attack against the headquarters of the Party of the Islamic republic, which killed 74 including Ayatollah Behechti, the regime's number two, was blamed on the Mujahideen by the authorities.

The Mujahideen took on the regime, which responded with repression with thousands of its members being killed. Those who survived were chased from Iran.

They found refuge throughout the world, particularly in France where they established themselves with their chief Massoud Rajavi and his wife Maryam.

Massoud Rajavi, who created the National Council of Resistance of Iran, was expelled from France in 1986 under a policy of rapprochement with Iran. His whereabouts are currently unclear.

Based at Auvers-sur-Oise, the organisation was led from 1989 by Maryam Rajavi, who was referred to as the "Sun of the Revolution." The organisation has often been compared to a sect, with the leading couple its gurus.

In 2003 Maryam Rajavi was arrested amid a wave of detentions, then freed after weeks of demonstrations by her supporters, including two people who set themselves on fire.

The National Liberation Army of Iran, the armed wing of the resistance, created in 1987, claimed several operations in Iran, notably in 1993 against oil installations and the mausoleum of the imam Khomeini, near to Tehran. They were blamed for dozens of murders.

The Mujahideen was set up in Iraq at the height of the war with Iran, fighting alongside Saddam Hussein's troops.

After Saddam was toppled in 2003, the Mujahideen were officially disarmed and regrouped in a camp at Ashraf near to Iraq's Iranian border. It became the PMOI's biggest base in exile housing 3,500 of the group's supporters.

The group's drive for recognition has been given added impetus by a threat by the Iraqi government to close down the Ashraf base.

During his recent visit to Iran, Iraq's national security adviser, Muwaffak al-Rubaie took a firm stance against the group, saying its members had two months to leave Iraq.

Washington has given the Mujahideen the status of "protected persons" under international conventions, while leaving them on the list of terrorist organisations.

It says it had received assurances that the Mujahideen would not be expelled to countries where they risked persecution.

In December 2008 the PMOI won a legal victory when the European Court of Justice overturned an EU order freezing the group's funds. Activists have since stepped up their campaign to demand full recognition.

Several months beforehand Britain struck the Mujahideen from its list of terrorist organisations.



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