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The Protection of Members of the PMOI under International Law- Professor Gus S. Goodwin-Gill

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Guy Goodwin-Gill is a barrister and a professor of public international law at Oxford University and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.
Guy Goodwin-Gill is a barrister and a professor of public international law at Oxford University and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

Legal Opinion
The Protection of Members of the People's Mojahedin Organization of
Iran (PMOI) under International Law

Gus S. Goodwin-Gill
Professor of International Refugee Law
All Souls College
University of Oxford, Oxford

Vera Gowlland-Debbas
Professor of Public International Law
Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva

The purpose of this document is to provide a Legal Opinion regarding the present status of the members of the POMI in Iraq as 'protected persons', 'resident aliens' and 'refugees', as well as regarding the corresponding obligations of the Republic oflraq under international humanitarian law, general international law, refugee law and human rights law.

A summary of the basic relevant principles appears below at paragraph 62.

Introduction and background

The People's Mojahedin Organization of lran (PMOI) was founded in 1965, 'with the aim of overthrowing the dictatorial regime of the Shah. In 1979, the organization joined other forces in the Revolution. A few years later, the Regime of the Mullahs began a campaign of retaliation against the Mojahedins which led to the mass arbitrary arrest of some 100,000 of them and the execution of another 40,000. At that time, the Mojahedins fled to exile, mostly in Europe.
Yet the intention of the Mojahedin to work within a political framework has been attested. In a December 1984 report submitted to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the State Department noted:

'The Mujahedin have never accepted the Khomeini regime as an adequate Islamic government. When Khomeini took power, the Mujahedin called for continued revolution, but said they would work for change within the legal framework of the new regime. The Mujahedin also entered avidly into the national debate on the structure of the new Islamic regime. The Mujahedin unsuccessfully sought a freely elected constituent assembly to draft a constitution. The Mujahedin similarly made an attempt at political participation when Mujahedin leader Massoud Rajavi ran for the presidency in January 1980. Rajavi was forced to withdraw when Ayatollah Khomeini ruled that only candidates who had supported the constitution in the December referendum- which the Mojahedin had boycotted­ were eligible. Rajavi's withdrawal statement emphasized the group's efforts to conform to election regulations and reiterated the Mujahedin 's intention to advance its political aims within the new legal system.' (emphasis added).

The continuing suppression of the PMOI by the Iranian regime and the arrest and execution of its members has been documented by the press and by independent observers, such as Amnesty International.

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External Links

Two Misguided Reports

  • HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH Report
    HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH Report
    On 18 May 2005, the US based Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) issued a 28-page report (“the HRW Report”) concerning the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (“PMOI / MEK”).  Entitled ‘No Exit: Human Rights Abuses Inside the MKO Camps’, the HRW Report was essentially based on 12 hours of telephone interviews with 12…
  • Courting Disaster, A response to Rand report on People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran
    Courting Disaster, A response to Rand report on People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran
    The RAND National Defense Research Institute published in July 2009 the report The Mujahedin-e Khalq: A Policy Conundrum for the Multi-National Force-Iraq, Task Force 134 (Detainee Operations). The report focuses on the circumstances surrounding the detention of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK) at Camp Ashraf and “whether MeK members were taken into custody…