Reply to extremists
By Hossein Bagher Zadeh
September 14, 1999
Slanderous accusations against me are being repeated in parts of
the Iranian press and now a bounty
has been put on my head by, Jebheh, the mouthpiece of the Ansar
Hebollah extremists. Here is a resposnse I sent to the Tehran Times
which had printed some of these alleagtions on September 2. My response
was published in its Septemer 7 issue.
You quote (Thursday 2nd September 1999) an unidentified member of the
editorial board of the Persian daily Neshat as saying that they
did not have "any knowledge of the identity of the author" of
the article under the title of "Is
state violence permissible?" which was published on August 24,
1999, in that paper. The said author was none other than yours truly, and
I had already sent Neshat a resume of the Iranian
Human Rights Working Group of which I am a founding member and its
chair since its inception in May 1994.
You then go on to refer to some of my political activities in the seventies,
but make some factual errors. I would be grateful if you wold allow me
to put the record straight for your readers. Referring to the "internal
coup in the [MKO] organization" when "some of the members of
the central council of MKO had turned Marxist", you report that "Baqer
Zadeh joined the Marxist group".
The fact is that I joined MKO in the Summer of 1973, at least a year
before the coup. You then add that "he fled to London and headed the
MKO branch there". That I fled to London in December 1975 is correct,
but it was also in part to escape from a death threat by the new leadership.
This obviously rules me out of any association with the then MKO organization
and, a priori, heading any of its branches. I lived in London and headed
the MKO office there before the coup, and not after that.
In order to fill in some of the gaps in the sequence of events reported
above, let me expand on my presence in Iran in 1975 and the subsequent
escape. When early in 1975 the news of the coup reached the MKO's external
section in London and Baghdad, I was one of the few members who stood against
this development on both ideological and democratic grounds. I argued forcefully
against both the theoretical tenets of the new leadership and the way they
had tried to impose their views on the whole organization.
Ashtiany, the emissary of the new leadership to Baghdad who managed
to 'convert' other 'stalwarts' such as Hossein Rouhani, proposed that I
should put my thoughts in writing and send them to the leadership inside.
I did so. After a few weeks I received an 'invitation' to go to Tehran
and put my points directly to the leadership 'if I am true to my revolutionary
This was after the murder of Sharif Vaqefi and attempted murder of Morteza
Labafinejad. It was clear that the invitation may be no more than a trap,
and I was warned by a number of friends to see it that way. However, I
decided to accept this invitation. In late September 1975 I arrived in
Tehran on a forged passport and immediately went into hiding. (My name
had already appeared in an anti-MKO news item in Ettela'aat newspaper as
'their man in London'.)
My stay in Tehran lasted for nearly three months. I lived in extreme
danger with no security cover provided by the group (and with no knowledge
of my family and friends in Iran). It soon became clear that the leadership
had lured me inside to tame me. It did not work.
I decided to leave and told them of my plan. They opposed it and tried
to block my way (they had confiscated the forged passport and would not
return it). I insisted. They threatened me. I cut all connections and went
into hiding from both the police and MKO. Then, and while being under the
death threat from two sides, I had to risk my life to flee Iran illegally.
Soon afterwards, the Mojahed Newsletter (khabar-nameh-e mojahed)
talked of a "third traitor" who had escaped from the "revolutionary
justice" and that "no matter where he is, he will be punished".
A few months afterwards, they accused Mohammad Yaghini, a close friend
of mine in the organization, of assisting me in my escape. About two years
later, when Yaghini was about to leave Iran, they murdered him.
I have provided the above information in order to correct some historical
errors in your report. However, these events, which took place nearly a
quarter century ago, can say little about my 'identity' now as referred
to in your report.
It would have been more appropriate to look at what I have been doing
more recently. Or else, if you are interested in historical facts, perhaps
you could refer to an episode in my life with some relevance to your own
profession: that I founded, published and edited the weekly Iranshahr
in London in 1978-79. The paper (edited by Ahmad Shamlou for a while) was
the sole voice of the revolution when a general strike had closed all the
press in Iran.
Hossein Bagher Zadeh
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