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False accusations
Reply to extremists

By Hossein Bagher Zadeh
September 14, 1999
The Iranian

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.

The Editor,
Tehran Times
Tehran, Iran.

Dear Sir,

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 claims'.

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.

Yours sincerely,

Hossein Bagher Zadeh

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