Tension in Conference on MKO-Saddam Ties

Mehrdad Farahmand, BBC Persian Service
November 10, 2005
A number of former members of Mojahedin-e khalq organization, who’ve formed the “Iran-Interlink” group and act to save MKO remnants in Iraq and to reveal what they call inhumane activities of the MKO leaders, held a press conference on Wednesday (November 10) in London’s Ambassador Hotel. They wanted to give information to journalists about the relations between the MKO and Saddam Hussein and the role of this organization in suppressing Shiites and Kurds in 1991 but the meeting was disrupted with the intervention of a number of people who seemed to be MKO supporters.

These people accused the organizers of the meeting of being the agents of the Iranian intelligence ministry. In addition to disrupting the process of the meeting, they threatened and even attacked reporters.

MKO, formed 25 years ago with the purpose of overthrowing the Iranian regime through armed struggle, settled in Iraq in 1986 and attacked Iran with direct support from Saddam Hussein. Despite the fall of Saddam Hussein and the occupation of Iraq by the US, MKO members remain in one of their bases; the group is a terrorist organization in the US and Europe.

In Iran-Interlink’s press conference, first a film was shown about the suppression of Kurds and Shiites in 1991 as well as interviews with survivors, victims and Kurd journalists. In addition, former MKO members gave evidences and documents, proving that Saddam Hussein used MKO members to kill Iraqi Kurds.

Another film showed MKO members giving intelligence on Iran to Iraqi officers and receiving millions of dollars in return. The film was produced by former Iraqi secret services.

According to Massoud Khodabandeh, one of the organizers, they had received the films from Iraqi Kurds and experts had verified that authenticity of the films. In addition, the content of the tapes matched the confessions of former Iraqi intelligence agents.

Then, Alain Chevalerias, French researcher and journalist and the author of a book on the MKO spoke for the audience. Anne Singelton, former member of the MKO and author of a book on the MKO activities gave her speech. When these two authors said they were ready to answer the questions of reporters, some people among the audience started supporting the MKO and prevented journalist from questioning the former members.

These people even insulted the journalists and called them the agents of the Iranian regime. VOA correspondent was even beaten by MKO supporters when she was leaving the place and she was returned to the building under the protection of police.

These moves caused police to come to the scene and the invitees had to leave the place under police protection.

Security concerns (fear from MKO members’ violence in the meeting) forced the organizers to change time and place of the meeting and Baroness Emma Nicholson, UK representative in European Parliament, who was supposed to take part in the meeting was absent.

Although the organizers had tried to limit the event to researchers and journalists (including the correspondent of MKO TV channel), some people joined the meeting with cover names and then disrupted the event.

For instance, a man said he was working for the Congress and US security service but he was supporting the MKO and even attacked reporters.