Interview with: Joe Stork, director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division
Interview with: Joe Stork, director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division Mohammed Hussein Sobhani, former member of Mojahedin-e Khalq Farid Soleimani, MKO’s spokesman NCRI, as a structure which includes Mojahedin-e Khalq, has denied the report of Human Rights watch on MKO abusing its own members. Human Rights Watch, in its report released on Thursday, asked the US and EU not to promote Mojahedin-e Khalq as an alternative for the current Islamic regime in Iran. Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian has a report in this regard. Amir Mosaddegh katouzian: Human Rights Watch is a human rights organization based in New York. In a 28 page report released by this organization, abuses of MKO have been detailed. This report is specially focused on this fact that a number of dissident members had been beaten, tortured, imprisoned (for example in Abu Ghraib) and even killed after they expressed their dissatisfaction. Joe Stork says: “Sources are the former member of Mojahedin-e Khalq. Those who had decided to leave the organization or criticize the leader were punished severely and there are reports of torture in the cases.” Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian: NCRI had responded severely to the report of HRW. They have said, for example, that HRW didn’t ask them any questions about the accusations. Farid Soleimani, one of the spokespersons of NCRI has talked to Radio Farda. Farid Soleimani: “What is seen in this report about the treatment of MKO with so-called former members is nothing except a political indictment against NCRI. Against the known methods of international organizations which discuss the issue before publishing anything, there’s no response of MKO in this 28 page report because HRW never called Mojahedin-e Khalq or NCRI. Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian: Human rights groups publish their announcement based on their independent investigations (for instance, about Uzbekistan, Iran and …). Isn’t that right? Farid Soleimani: “Independent investigation, yes, but a part of independent investigation, according to international communities, is to discuss the issue with the side which has been accused. But this was not done in this case.” Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian: But Joe Stork says to Radio Farda that this method of creating a report (including visiting organizations and institutions which are said to have violated human rights) is not the method of HRW. Joe Stork: “That’s right. But this is not a normal way. The normal way is to call the organization that we criticize and say that these are the conclusions of our investigations.” Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian: But Farid Soleimani says that HRW has not considered what US officials and institutions in Iraq have said. Farid Soleimani: “They didn’t include detailed reports of US agencies (like DoD and FBI, and State Department) on interviewing individual member of Ashraf Camp. There are no evidences to accuse Mojahedin-e Khalq of such claims.” Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian: I ask Joe Stork whether HRW has called US officials. Joe Stork: “Why should we do that! This has nothing to do with our report. We are talking about serious human rights abuses which have been done in long period of time. As far as I know, none of US officials or other foreign states have discussed this issue. If they want to send their report to complete the information, it’s good. But I know nothing of the existence of such reports.” Farid Soleimani: “What we say is that this is not an ordinary human rights report. It’s a political indictment against Mojahedin and resistance!! of Iran. Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian: “The US classified MKO as a terrorist organization in 1997. The EU followed the line of the US in 2002 and put MKO on the black list. HRW has expressed concerns about Mojahedin-e Khalq since a number of US representatives support MKO as an alternative for the Islamic republic. In the report, Joe Stork said: “Iran has dreadful record on Human rights. But promoting an opposition which has committed serious human rights abuses is a big mistake.” About the basis of such a concern, Joe Stork says: “From our point of view about the human rights aspect of the issue, it’s related to the behavior of Mojahedin-e Khalq which can be said that are undemocratic and against human rights.” Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian: “Mohammed Hussein Sobhani is one of former members whose testimonies are cited by HRW. He says that after criticizing the leadership he was imprisoned in Camp Ashraf for about 8 and a half years and then he was in Abu Ghraib prison for about 1 year. He was also tortured. Sobhani, in interview with Radio Farda, names some other sources. Mohammed Hussein Sobhani: “The sources of this report are the former members like Mr. Yasser Ezati, Ali Ghashghavi, Farhad Javaheri, Amir Moasaghi, Akbar Akbari, and Alireza Mir Asgari. Cellmates in MKO prisons and Abu Ghraib also should be considered.” Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian: But MKO and NCRI deny the comments of Mohammed Hussein Sobhani. Farid Soleimani: “Out of 12 people who were cited as sources of the report, 4 have left the organization before 1991, as they say. 8 others have come to Europe from Iran and I refer you to a document in Mojahed Journal (2002) in which it’s been revealed that Mohammed Hussein Sobhani has been a commander of Iranian intelligence service.” Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian: But Sobhani denies these claims of NCRI and MKO. Mohammed Hussein Sobhani: “MKO’s press release denies the report of HRW and repeats accusations against us. But it doesn’t answer this question that “How the veteran members, with documents and IDs, became mercenaries overnight?”. I myself was in solitary confinement for 8 years and half in Ashraf Camp. For 35 days they transferred me to the prison of Iraqi security service. And then I was delivered to the prison of Abu Ghraib. During imprisonment, I was tortured severely for 11 times at least. I marked on the wall each time they tortured me.” Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian: In response to the report of HRW, which cites Mohammed Hussein Sobhani, NCRI says it invites the representatives of HRW to go to Iraq for inspection. Farid Soleimani: “Iranian resistance!! has repeatedly asked this organization to go to Ashraf camp for investigation!!, but they have not done so. Amir Mosaddegh Katouzian: In response to the comments of Farid Soleiman, Joe Stork says he is not aware of such an invitation. Joe Stork: “This is the first time I hear this.”

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