Iranians take to the streets in thousands to demand democracy, while Britain continues to obstruct it, says Christopher Booker
By Christopher Booker
In recent days, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have again risked death, torture and imprisonment by calling for an end to the Khamenei regime in Teheran, as its thugs vainly try to suppress popular protests which have been growing in force ever since last summer's fraudulent elections. Yet this is the same ruthless dictatorship which for more than 10 years our Government has gone out of its way to appease.
n 1998 I reported on the extraordinary way in which the Charity Commission, at the instigation of Tehran, closed down Iran Aid, a London-based charity set up to give humanitarian aid to the families of Iranians murdered by the regime. I was able to reveal that the receiver manager from PricewaterhouseCoopers, charged with seizing the charity's funds and confidential files (including the names of its contacts in Iran), was also having regular meetings in London with a former Iranian minister closely linked to the regime's intelligence service.
Then in 2001, again at the behest of Tehran, Jack Straw, as home secretary, banned as a terrorist organisation the People's Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI), part of the main Iranian opposition group in exile, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI). Headed in Paris by Mrs Maryam Rajavi, the NCRI is supported by hundreds of thousands of Iranians both inside the country and across the world. At British instigation, the EU endorsed the ban on the PMOI, and only after a succession of court cases in which both Britain and the EU were ruled to have acted illegally (on the grounds that they had produced no evidence to show that the PMOI were terrorists), was the ban last year lifted.
Britain's behaviour in these episodes was not only shameful but seemingly without rational purpose. The Tehran regime has been a sponsor of terrorism across the Middle East, not least in Iraq, where its agents played a key part in the humiliating defeat of Britain's army of occupation. Britain was also centrally involved in the futile EU negotiations to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear programme. It should be clear to all the world that the Khamenei regime lacks any genuine popular support, and that, as Mrs Rajavi said again last week, the only way to remove Iran as a destabiling factor in world politics is for the Iranian people to have a chance to choose the democratic, peace-loving government they yearn for. Every Western democracy should be giving that cause wholehearted support. So why has our own Government been so actively on the other side for so long?