It is not often this column commends a passionate supporter of the EU but Lord
Slynn of Hadley, a former judge on the European Court of Justice who died
last week, deserves tribute for his part in an admirable fight for justice.
He played a leading role in the long battle to get the People’s Mujahideen
of Iran (PMOI), the main hope of a democratic alternative to the murderous
tyranny in Tehran, taken off the list of terrorist organisations outlawed by
the UK Government and the EU.
The purpose of banning the PMOI was solely to appease the Teheran regime,
which regards the National Council of Resistance of Iran, of which the PMOI
is the main component, as its chief enemy. Repeatedly the British Government
and the EU tried to flout rulings by their respective courts that there was
no evidence that the PMOI were terrorists and that the ban was unlawful.
Finally, thanks not least to Lord Slynn, both governments were forced to
lift the ban.
Now, however, desperate for vengeance, the Tehran regime has turned its
attention to the PMOI’s last “safe haven” in the Middle East, Camp Ashfraf
in the Iraqi desert 60 miles north of Baghdad. Where there was once just
arid sand now stands a thriving modern town, with four Olympic-size swimming
pools and houses in tree-lined streets, home to 3,600 peace-loving Iranians.
After the occupation, the people of Ashraf, having given up their weapons,
lived under a guarantee of US protection. But in January this year, the
Americans handed over that “protection” to the Iraqi government which, under
what appears to be a murky deal with Tehran, has been bringing every kind of
pressure, short of force, to close Ashraf down. The inhabitants have been
denied supplies, medical attention or contact with the outside world, and
are terrified that they will be handed over to Tehran, many to be tortured
or executed as tens of thousands of PMOI supporters have been in the past.
Were Lord Slynn, who twice visited Ashraf, still alive, he would again be
playing a leading role in trying to alert the world to the terrible betrayal
which now seems in the making.