You are aware of (and have pointed to ) this fact that the history of MKO's violence goes back to 80s during which Mojahedin created a bloodbath and –according to the reports Iran Didban is gathering- killed 16000 people in the street clashes and in the war fronts. Certainly you mean that Moajedin's issue should be talked while considering these records
On Sept. 20, 2004, Mr. Win Griffiths wrote to Iran-interlink with a reply to Anne Singelton's report (of his meeting with Bassam and Khodabandeh in Tehran) but he also addresses IranDidban.
Although in most of the cases Iran-Interlink and Anne Singleton should answer, IranDidban has brought brief notes at the end of the current article.
The first reply is to a news item published in Farsi on June 23 following the visit to Iran by Anne Singleton on behalf of Iran-Interlink.
The second reply is to an article published in English and Farsi giving a fuller account of the visit to two MKO prisoners, Ibrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam. This article was first published in the July edition of Survivors' Report and subsequently on the Iran-Interlink website.
Both the cover letter and the replies from Mr. Griffiths are directed to the Irandidban website rather than to Iran-Interlink and we would be interested to hear Irandidban's response to this.
Mr. Griffiths' cover letter:
I have to say that I was disappointed to read your article, especially since no attempt was made to clear it with me in those please where reference is made to me.
I enclose for your perusal and enlightenment my response to your article, as well as my response to an earlier article which appeared on the Iran Didban website.
WIN GRIFFITHS MP
MP FOR THE BRIDGEND CONSTITUENCY
Rebuttal of Mr. Griffiths to "MKO prisoners met UK MPs in Evin" by Anne Singleton:
"I was not aware that there were two Iranian lawyers in the room when I met Ibrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam. There were several people in the room that I was not introduced to. As I have not had a proper opportunity to talk to the UK reporter I don't know how "independent" he is.
The reference in paragraph five to the "Mojahedin" (NCRI) trying to bribe officials there is the first time I've ever heard this referred to by anyone.
It is not true that the National Council of Resistance of Iran (referred to in the text as the "Mojahedin") began their campaign to free the two men until after they had been taken to Iran. The NCRI contacted the British Foreign Office and several MPs and members of the House of Lords to appeal to the Syrian Government to release them. I was one of those contacted who made representations directly to the Syrian Government, and through the Foreign Office, to have them released. There is, therefore, no question of the efforts to get Ibrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam released being delayed until they were in Iran and so would be presented as martyrs to the cause.
The NCRI certainly feared they would be tortured, and, given the human rights record of the Iranian government, this was not unjustified fear. As far as I am aware, the NCRI never predicted that they would be "executed immediately".
The reference to Ibrahim Khodabandeh being only 6.5 stones is one fine hard to believe as I have never seen Mr. Khodabandeh looking like a skeleton as he plainly would if he was only 6.5 stones. It is possible, of course, that he was ill two years ago but it is plainly mischievous to imply that this was because he was an NCRI activist.
I do not know how often after being imprisoned in Tehran Ibrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam were allowed to speak to their families on the phone. I do know, however, that to describe Ibrahim's phne contact with his daughter as "regular" is to give a meaning to the word that it does not have. I believe that Ibrahim spoke to his daughter about three times between June 2003 and June 2004; hardly regular.
I do not recall being asked for my reactions to the story of the PMOI/MKO prisoners; so to say that "their accounts moved and disturbed us" and "the MPs were both moved by this direct appeal", is guess work on Anne Singleton's/Khodabandeh's part (she is the sister in Law of Ibrahim).
I listened intently to what the PMOI/MKO prisoners had to say and even now, over a month later, I am not absolutely certain that their highly critical accounts of the PMOI/MKO were the outcome of quiet contemplation unencumbered by any pressures, physical or psychological, from the Iranian regime. There is plenty of evidence that political prisoners in Iran have been subject to torture and other pressures right up to recent times.
One belated thought I've had is – if all these prisoners were brutally brainwashed, how come none of them had killed themselves as they all allegedly claimed the PMOI/MKO leadership at Camp Ashraf had brainwashed them to do?
Anne Singleton/Khodabandeh claims in her article that a "senior security officer" told her that the regime now treated PMOI/MKO prisoners in a humane way because they were no longer perceived as a threat and that stories of "mistreatment" (ie torture and execution) were used by the NCRI as a lever for recruitment. In taking this change of policy there is at least some recognition by the Iranian regime of the terrible treatment of political prisoners. It could also mean, of course, that the regime has moved from physical torture to psychological pressure on prisoners.
I find it difficult, if not impossible, to believe that Ibrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam will receive a "fair trial with proper legal representation of their own choice." This has been reinforced by the recent trial of alleged killer of the Canadian photographer, Zara Kazemi, in Evin prison last year. This trial was held in Secret and cut short. Not even the Canadian Embassy was allowed to send observers to the trial.
One this score the proposition I put to the Iranian Government is that they should return Ibrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam to the UK- as they were illegally taken to Tehran- where their extradition could be requested. If the case against them is as strong as the Iranian Government claims it is, then they should be prepared to put it to the test in a British court.
It is true that my visit gave me much food for thought. I want to pursue the possibility of Ibrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam Being returned to the UK and to see if the general amnesty on offer to the NCRI is more than widow dressing. I want progress to be made and I hope for a positive response from the Iranian Government. I have no illusion, however, about the Herculean nature of this task. Look at the response I got from the UK Government on the outcome of the EU/Iran human rights dialogue which was going on whilst I was there:
The EU delegation raised particular concerns about Iran's judicial and penal systems, the situation of religious and ethnic minorities, freedom of expression and assembly, discrimination against women and the conduct of this year's Majlis elections. The EU also raised the cases of a number of individuals in Iran. We are deeply disappointed that on many issues of concern there has been little or no progress in recent months.
This assessment does not give the rise to the optimism about the possibility of real progress being made in the struggle for the return of Ibrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam to the UK and the development of a truly democratic and free Iran but we can, at least, all live in hope.
Win Griffiths MP
23rd July 2004
Second letter of Mr. Win Griffiths:
Meeting with Ibrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam
REBUTTAL OF AN ITEM IN FARSI ON Iran DIDBAN (WEBSITE REPORTEDLY BELONGING TO THE IRANIAN MINISTRY OF INTELLIGENCE) ON JUNE 24TH
I have been told that the above item also appeared in Farsi on the Iran-Interlink website
There was no "delegation of experts". Sir Teddy Taylor MP and I arrived together from London at 2.00 am on Monday, 14th June 2004. when he approached me on the Wednesday afternoon before my visit, saying he had been invited to accompany me to Tehran by the Iranian Government, I explained that my purpose was to visit two political prisoners that I had been granted permission to see- unexpectedly by the Iranian Government.
Up to the point of our arrival at the prison at around 2.00 pm we thought I would see Ibrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam while Sir Teddy Taylor was shown some of the prison.
I knew Anne Singleton was in Tehran but did not expect her to be present for my meeting with Mr. Khodabandeh and Mr. Bassam. Anne Singleton is the sister in law of Ibrahim Khodabandeh, had at one time been a supporter of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) but is now a dedicated opponent of the movement and runs an anti-NCRI website, Iran-Interlink. The description of her as "representing a non-governmental human rights organization" attempts to give the impression that she is neutral in the struggle between the Government of Iran and the NCRI (and its military wing, the people's Mojahedin of Iran, known as the PMOI or MKO or Mek).
When Sir Teddy Taylor and I were taken into a room full of people it was apparent that my meeting would not be private and Sir Teddy Taylor would not be seeing any of the prison.
Anne Singleton was in the room with her young son. A British freelance reporter (we later found out) with an assistant was already conducting an interview with a prisoner (with another prisoner acting as an interpreter). It soon became apparent that these were two ex-MKO/PMOI members. The "two famous British journalists" are not, as far as I Know "famous", nor were they a part of any delegation of which I was a member.
There were other people in the room but no introductions were made so I cannot comment on the presence of "two prominent Iranian human rights personalities" (also described as "Iranian jurists") other than to say its very odd that I was not introduced to them if they were part of a "delegation of experts".
I am described on the website as "one of a handful of supporters of the Mojahedin" in the House of Commons. The NCRI has broad support in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords. For example, in September 2002, 331 MPs (a majority of backbenchers) and 122 Peers declared, 'supporting the people of Iran and the people's Mojahedin organization to achieve democracy and human rights is essential for the defeat of terrorism at home and abroad'. Hundreds of supporters and a majority of backbenchers in the House of Commons is far more than a handful!
Whilst I did not have the sort of private meeting with Mr. Khodabandeh and Mr. Bassam that I would have liked, I did feel reasonably happy that we were able to exchange words- even though there were always people around us eg around a dining table. That is why I felt I could describe the circumstances as acceptable. I must admit I was pleased that I was able to see them and talk to them at all.
The conclusion which was made that "as a result, many of the prejudices that he had towards the political situation in Iran had been shaken, if not shattered" is the conclusion of someone who has not spoken to me.
Earlier in the item I am quoted as telling the meeting in Paris that "this was a tough, but encouraging week". This is an accurate conclusion. It was tough because I had a series of meetings with people who had suffered from the military activities of the PMOI. It was encouraging because I was told that the offer of a general amnesty to the NCRI members came from all institutions of Government and would hold good if the military wing put down its arms. This was obviously better than a declaration made on television.
I explained I was not the agent or representative of the NCRI but, as a supporter of the NCRI, I felt that announcing a general amnesty was not enough. The history of dealing going back to 1980 meant that there was deep distrust. I believed, for the amnesty to be real, that negotiations would be needed on the terms of the amnesty and its subsequent monitoring by a body like the United Nations.
I would hope that it will prove possible for such a general amnesty to be properly negotiated. Although I fear the way my visit and views have been abused on the Iran Didban website could diminish such hopes.
The paragraph, "it is worth nothing that the leaders of the sect and their lackeys in London were infuriated so much by the visit that they even shouted at Mr. Griffiths to try to prevent him from going to Iran" is a complete fabrication: not a word is true. The leaders of the NCRI in London and Paris encouraged me to make this visit. Like me, they were surprised it was granted, but nobody tried to stop me from going and certainly no-one shouted at me "to try and prevent me from going to Iran."
Whilst on the visit I was asked whether the NCRI had tried to discourage me from going to Iran but I made it quite clear that the opposite was the case: they encouraged me to go.
I have never said that "the only solution is to negotiate". I believe it would be the best solution and I have passed on this judgment to Madam Rajavi and the NCRI leadership in Paris. I hope, despite the inaccuracies on the Iran Didban website, the possibility of negotiation is still on the table.
I will be seeking an early meeting with His Excellency, Ambassador Samardi, to discuss my visit and the possibilities of developing the offer of a general amnesty into a specific negotiated agreement. This will enable the NCRI to assess and respond to this offer.
I close by re-iterating the thanks I have expressed to the government of Iran for allowing me to meet Ibrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam. I met Mr. Khodabandeh and Mr. Bassam in the prison and outside, Ibrahim Khodabandeh at three meals and Jamil Bassam at one.
I am sorry that an inaccurate report of my visit has appeared on the Iran-Didban website and been repeated on the Iran-Interlink website. I hope, however, despite this, that progress can be made to settle this long running, bitter, violent and tragic dispute.
Win Griffiths MP
Irandidban's reply to the letter of Mr. Griffiths:
Dear Mr. Win Griffiths,
Irandidban was informed of your meeting with Mr. Khodabandeh and Mr. Bassam by the article of Anne Singleton and her report of the meeting was published in the website.
There was no conclusion or interpretation by Irandidban itself. And in order to prove our impartiality, we published your reply in the site. So, we are afraid of your immediate judgment and conclusion and of course we know the reason of that.
Inverted cycle you've considered (or as you say "you've been told) is due to this fact that you've been told that Iran Didban belongs to Intelligence Ministry; and there's no doubt that those who have suggested this wanted to conclude that the report of Anne Singleton has been dictated by Intelligence Ministry and therefore pretend that Irandidban has abused the report of your meeting.
Introducing all opponents as "mercenaries of the Iranian regime and regime's Intelligence Ministry" is Mojahedin's old trick. But this fact that a statesman relies on Mojahedin for receiving reports is really regrettable.
Of course you know that your judgment about the affairs or Iran, Mojahedin-e Khalq and their opponents should be based on a wide view of all aspects of this complicated issue.
In this regard, we inform Your Excellency that Iran Didban has published 5900 titles (including books, articles, news, and international views) about Mojahedin in the website. How is it possible to reject all facts and revelations (of the people who used to cooperate with this group for more than three decades) only by this allegation that "this website belongs to Intelligence Ministry"?
We have credible reports indicating that Mojahedin-e khalq have banned their supporters and sympathizers of visiting our website, and members of this group have no access to internet.
Iran Didban has expressed no comments on your meeting, put aside abusing its report. Iran Didban has only published three articles from Iran-Interlink in this regard (one of which was the letter of Mr. Khodabandeh's daughter) and if Singleton's report has been written unrealistically, she should answer herself.
Mr. Khodabandeh and Mrs. Singleton, who run Iran-Interlink website, are brave people who had earlier (9th August 2004) asked you for a face to face debate on Mojahedin-e Khalq. We bring their request here again to remind you of that:
"Through your mediation we would again like to invite Mr and Mrs Rajavi as leaders of the ‘Iranian Resistance’, or their representatives, to take part in a free and open live discussion with other opposition groups and personalities, on the basis of their claim that: the ‘Iranian Resistance’ is an independent and democratic opposition which is working to bring freedom and democracy to Iran, in addition to any other issues" which they would like to bring to the table including their ideology, strategy and their tactics over the past 30 years."
Those who follow the affairs of MKO wonder why Your Excellency and Mojahedin-e khalq avoid answering this request.
Isn't it better to talk about basic issues in such an atmosphere – instead of talking vainly about Intelligence Ministry and bringing the name of Iran Didban?!
Deciding about offering general amnesty to MKO members and negotiating with them is in the hands of Iranian statesmen, not Iran Didban or Mrs. Singleton. But as you are aware, Iran has offered such an amnesty by the Iranian President and by Judiciary.
You are aware of (and have pointed to ) this fact that the history of MKO's violence goes back to 80s during which Mojahedin created a bloodbath and –according to the reports Iran Didban is gathering- killed 16000 people in the street clashes and in the war fronts. Certainly you mean that Moajedin's issue should be talked while considering these records! Nearly two years after the revolution in Iran, when Iran had been attacked by a foreign enemy, Mojahedin took out their guns.
Is it similar to resistance against Nazis?
Can you call it "an attempt to establish democracy"?
Isn't there anything else to get to freedom except weapons, arms, bombings and violence?
Dear Mr. Griffiths,
Although you've addressed Mrs. Singleton and she should answer you, we bring some notes on meeting with Mr. Bassam and Mr. Khodabandeh and also about the nature of Mojahedin-e Khalq. We hope we can take a positive step in describing terrorism and violence in Iran for Your Excellency and your partners in the UK Parliament.
Although you've used several "buts and ifs" in the case of meeting Mr. Bassam and Mr. Khodabandeh, the nature of the issue- that they've not been tortured physically or that you've been allowed to meet them- has made you uncertain "that their highly critical accounts of the PMOI/MKO were the outcome of quiet contemplation unencumbered by any pressures, physical or psychological, from the Iranian regime."
On the other hand, you have said that "not committing suicide in Ashraf" proves that "there's no brainwashing by Mojahedin"?!
So, according to your method, we should accept what quoted for us, not what we see!
Saving your grace, we should remind that all audience of Ms. Elahe Azim Far – who accepted her comments about Ibrahim and Jamil being under brutal tortures and the danger of execution- follow such method!
Dear Mr. Griffiths,
Which one is the easiest for you? To commit suicide or to push away your wife and leave your children and accept absolute ownership of a person on your body and soul?!
MKO members are doing such a thing all the time. This is the outcome of brainwashing that has kept isolated MKO members away from media and communication for 20 years only for a dream which never comes true.
Although many MKO members (those who couldn't tolerate a big contradiction) have committed suicide during these years, those who stay kill their mind and soul everyday.
You've said that Mojahedin were surprised, like you, of visit being granted! Of course, this is natural because this put them politically in deadlock and deprived them from propagandistic activities about torture and execution; activities which were done systematically by the group and by using some members of UK Parliament.
There's also another reason to be surprised that is "breaking of the wall of delusion that the leader of MKO had built and by which he took MKO members to serve Saddam."
In this regard, it should be noted that for years defectors, dissident members and … have come to Iran willingly but they have never seen the bars of Iranian prisons. Unfortunately, Bassam and Khodabandeh have been engaged in legal process otherwise they would have better situation than this.
You have said that you have never heard of Mojahedin bribing foreign supporters. For your information, we have published an article "MKO-US, From Hostility to the Need" (available in Farsi and English) in which shocking documents about bribing supporters in the congress by this group have been revealed. You can also find them in "Antiwar","Iran Brief","Insight Magazine", and "Capital Report".
This is a known method of Mojahedin and it's surprising that you, honestly and based on your beliefs, support them!
To be continued…
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