POLITICS
06/11/2010 05:41 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Lawmakers Seek To Remove Iranian Organization From Government's Terrorist List

Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) introduced a resolution Thursday calling for the Obama administration to remove the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran from the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations, comparing the organization with Iran's Green Movement.

The resolution, cosponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), calls for "an end to a selective approach to Iranian opponents who struggle for democracy and human rights."

The People's Mojahedin has sought to equate itself with the Green Movement, which has been fighting for democracy since the disputed election a year ago, and launched an influential lobbying and media campaign to challenge its designation as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.

The campaign has enjoyed some success. In a letter to his congressional colleagues, Filner referred to the PMOI as Iran's "main opposition group" -- a description that would enrage moderate pro-democracy Iranians and leaders of the Green Movement who have denounced the group.

The State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations states that the group "staged terrorist attacks inside Iran and killed several US military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran" and "conducted attacks on Iranian embassies in 13 different countries."

That doesn't square with how Filner described the group in a letter to his colleagues:

"The resolution calls on the U.S. government to side with the Iranian people's endeavors by refraining from a selective approach to Iranian opponents who struggle for democracy and human rights. It invites the Secretary of State to join our British and European allies in ending the blacklisting of Iran's main opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), thereby denying Tehran the pretext of cracking down on dissidents inside Iran and the justification to harm the dissidents abroad in camp Ashraf. According to Amnesty International, a number of Camp Ashraf family members were sentenced to death in Iran for their association with PMOI."

Seizing on such statements the Iranian government has been able to portray members of Iran's non-violent movement for democracy as supporters of People's Mojahedin, using that to justify the use of violence on peaceful protesters.

Filner's resolution, put forward on the first anniversary of the start of Iran's post-election uprising, is part of a wider effort to end the Iranian government's oppression of political dissidents.

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