National Council of Resistance of Iran
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National Council of Resistance
|Founder||Massoud Rajavi and Abolhassan Banisadr|
|Founded||July 20, 1981|
|Mother Party||People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran|
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI; Persian: شورای ملی مقاومت ایران, translit. Šurā-ye melli-e moqāwemat-e Īrān) is an Iranian political organization based in France. The organization has appearance of a broad-based coalition, however many analysts consider NCRI and People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) to be synonymous and recognize NCRI as only "nominally independent" political wing or front for MEK.
On 21 December 2001, Australia added the organization, alias of MEK, to its ‘Consolidated List’ subject to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373. On 15 August 2003, being considered an alias of MEK, it was designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and was delisted on 28 September 2012.
It was formed by People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) leader, Massoud Rajavi, and former president of Iran Abolhassan Banisadr in 1981, who co-chaired the council. They were later joined by National Democratic Front (NDF) and Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI). The council also received unequivocal support from Labour Party of Iran. It caused a break up in the Fedaian Organisation (Minority), when Organization of Iranian People's Fedai Guerrillas (In Search of Identity Program) led by Mehdi Sameh split the former in order to join the NCRI, with less than a handful of members.
In 1983, elements united with NCRI began to depart the alliance because of conflicts with the MEK. Due to "violent pro-Iraq activities of MEK in the Iran–Iraq War", the NDF and Banisadr withdrew from the council. On 24 March 1983, Banisadr officially left the council. On 14 April 1985, the KDPI left the organization because they preserved their independence to decide to negotiate with Iran's regime.
NCRI was transformed from an umbrella organization into a MEK subsidiary. Despite being controlled by MEK, the NCRI disguises itself as the “parliament-in-exile” of the “Iranian Resistance”, claiming to fight for the establishment of a democratic and secular republic in Iran, on a platform espousing such political values as secular government, democratic elections, freedom of expression, equal rights for women and human rights. It still claims to be an umbrella organization with multiple member groups, such as the “Association of Iranian Scholars and Professionals” and the “Association of Iranian Women”, which are in fact shell organizations established by the MEK to make the NCRI appear more "representative". Other MEK front organizations include “Muslim Student Association”, the “Towhidi Society of Guilds, the “Movement of Muslim Teachers”, the “Union of Instructors in Universities and Institutions of Higher Learning”, and the “Society for the Defense of Democracy and Independence in Iran”.
The NCRI is regarded by the Iranian regime as a terrorist organization, and was classified as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the United States, alleging that the NCRI "is not a separate organization, but is instead, and has been, an integral part of the MEK at all relevant times" and that the NCRI is "the political branch" of the MEK rather than vice versa. However, it is no longer considered terrorist. On September 28, 2012, the US State Department formally removed MEK from its list of terrorist organizations in a decision made by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ahead of an October 1 deadline set by an US appeals court.
Some top US officials[who?] such as Dick Armey (the former House majority leader 1995–2003) have suggested that the State Department wrongly included MEK in the terrorist list from the beginning. Alireza Jafarzadeh was its official representative in the US until the Washington office was closed by the US State Department in 2002 on the grounds that it was only a front group for the MEK by then listed as a terrorist organisation in the US. It has been alleged that the inclusion of NCRI and MEK in the list was a token offered to the theocratic regime of Iran rather than based the facts of the matter. According to the Wall Street Journal "Senior diplomats in the Clinton administration say the MEK figured prominently as a bargaining chip in a bridge-building effort with Tehran." The Journal added that: In 1997, the State Department added the MEK to a list of global terrorist organizations as "a signal" of the US's desire for rapprochement with Tehran's reformists, said Martin Indyk, who at the time was assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs. President Khatami's government "considered it a pretty big deal," Indyk said.
The European Union in May 2004 implied that NCRI is part of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (rather than vice versa) and excluded the NCRI itself from a list of organisations considered to be terrorist organisations, including the People's Mujahedin of Iran "minus the National Council of Resistance of Iran" on its list of terrorist organisations. On January 26, 2009, EU Council of Ministers agreed to remove the MEK from the EU terror list. The group said it was the outcome of a "seven-year-long legal and political battle". The European Union had previously listed the MEK on its list but excluded the NCRI itself from the list of organizations considered to be terrorist organizations.
The Middle East department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the United Kingdom stated in early 2006 that it is widely understood that "Iran's [nuclear] program, which was kept secret from the IAEA for 18 years, became public knowledge largely because of revelations of the NCRI, and this led to heightened international concern." At the same time Michael Axworthy, former head of the Iran section at the FCO, claimed that the NCRI is a "tightly disciplined front organization for the MEK and deemed them unreliable."
The NCRI has in the past three decades recorded and reported human rights violations in Iran to UN Special Rapporteurs, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and other international human rights organisations.
In a meeting at the Council of Europe in April 2006, Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the NCRI, elaborated on the movement's vision for a future Iran and presented a Ten Point Plan for Future Iran, according to the organisation’s website.
The plan has been supported by British MPs, some arguing that it is a potential programme that "would transform Iran" since it calls for the abolition of the death penalty, the creation of a modern legal system and the independence of judges.
At a debate on human rights situation in Iran in the House of Lords on December 8, 2016, Lord Alton of Liverpool said, “The manifesto says: Cruel and degrading punishments will have no place in the future Iran”. Madam Rajavi would end Tehran’s funding of Hamas, Hezbollah and other militant groups and is committed to peaceful coexistence, relations with all countries and respect for the United Nations charter.”
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- UK House of Commons, Foreign Affairs Committee publication, 10 June 2013, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmfaff/267/267vw15.htm
- NCRI Website: Maryam Rajavi's Ten Point Plan for Future Iran, http://ncr-iran.org/en/ten-point-plan
- House of Lords Hansard Volume 777, Lords Chamber, Iran: Human Rights, 08 December 2016, https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2016-12-08/debates/1117FCF0-EE8C-4A7A-BED2-DE9108AD65DC/IranHumanRights