Distribution in Tehran (depositing in public places) of pamphlets belonging to, or in support of, the People's Mujahedine Organization of Iran (PMOI) and whether persons have been arrested, imprisoned and/or executed for distributing such pamphlets (1995 - February 1999) [IRN31373.E]

The People's Mujahedine Organization of Iran (PMOI) is one of several names for the Mujehedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO of MEK), with the latter incarnation described as an anti-western paramilitary organization that has used "terrorist violence" (US Department of State 1997, 14; Extremist Groups 1996, 639). The PMOI is also a member organization of the National Council of Resistance (NCR) (ibid.; NCR n.d.).

The Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran stated in a 23 February 1999 telephone interview that the PMOI "claims they do distribute pamphlets in Iran." However, "the regime has said they'll arrest anyone associated with the Mujahedine" and, as such, it would not be the distribution of pamphlets that would put an individual at risk but their association with an organization the government considers to be "terrorist."

The Website of the NCR has several references to the distribution of pamphlets in various locations in Iran, including Tehran, in its Brief on Iran section which is a collection of news reports (7 Mar. 1996; 31 Oct. 1996; 3 Mar. 1997; 22 May 1997; 7 Oct. 1998; 5 Jan. 1999). However, while there are two references to "waves" of arrests of young people (31 Oct. 1996; 22 May 1997; 7 Oct. 1998), there is no mention on the Website of the NCR of any members of the PMOI, or the NCR, having been arrested for distributing or being in possession of pamphlets. There is a 29 December 1998 report of a supporter of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri "remaining in jail after being detained 3 months ago for handing out pro-Montazeri leaflets." The Record reported on 28 December 1998 that seven people were arrested in Tehran for distributing pamphlets that called for the release of the "moderate religious leader" Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.

There are other reports mentioning pamphlets in the last few years. In July 1997, 5 MKO members were arrested in Kerman city, Iran on unspecified charges, but their activities allegedly included "espionage work...identifying sensitive premises, writing slogans and distributing pamphlets" (IRNA 31 July 1997). On 27 January 1997 IRNA reported that four MKO members were killed at Iran's western border as they tried to enter Iran "for sabotage activities" and that "propaganda pamphlets" were found in their possession (Xinhua 27 Jan. 1997). In August 1996 an Iranian newspaper reported the arrest of several alleged "'counterrevolutionaries' who intended to bomb banks and other public places" and who had distributed anti-government leaflets (AP 25 Aug. 1996). AP stated that MKO members are usually referred to as "counterrevolutionaries" by Iranian officials (ibid.). In addition, several unidentified persons, alleged to be members of an unnamed group, were arrested in Tehran for "clandestine distribution of political leaflets" (AP 28 Jan. 1999). The Islamic Republic News Agency claimed that weapons were found at a "hideout" of the unnamed group (ibid.).

No information could be found on whether or not persons have been arrested for distributing pamphlets.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Associated Press (AP). 28 January 1999. "Iran Arrests Suspects for Distribution of Political Leaflets." (NEXIS)

_____. 25 August 1996. "Iran Arrests 'Counterrevolutionaries'." (NEXIS)

Extremist Groups. 1996. Builta, Jeffrey A.; John Murray; Richard H. Ward. Chicago, IL: Office of International Criminal Justice.

Foundation for Democracy in Iran, Kensington, Maryland. 23 February 1999. Telephone interview with Director.

IRNA. 31 July 1997. "Iran: Members of Opposition Arrested in Southeast Iran." (FBIS-NES-97-212 31 July 1997/WNC)

_____. 27 January 1997. "Four MKO Members Said Killed in Infiltration Attempt." (FBIS-NES-97-018 27 Jan. 1997/WNC)

The National Council of Resistance (NCR), Washington. n.d. "National Council of Resistance of Iran: Member Organizations." [Internet] www.iran-e-azad.org [Accessed 3 Mar. 1999]

_____. 5 January 1999. "Iran Holds Backers of Montazeri." [Internet] www.iran-e-azad.org [Accessed 3 Mar. 1999]

_____. 7 October 1998. "Rally and Clashes in Front of Tehran University Turn Into Anti-Government Protest." [Internet] www.iran-e-azad.org [Accessed 3 Mar. 1999]

_____. 22 May 1997. "Public Support for Rajavi's Call for Boycott of Elections; Hundreds of Young Iranians Arrested." [Internet] www.iran-e-azad.org [Accessed 3 Mar. 1999]

_____. 3 March 1997. "Overview: Iran's Exile Army." [Internet] www.iran-e-azad.org [Accessed 3 Mar. 1999]

_____. 31 October 1996. "Despite Stepped Up Repression, Students' Activities Supporting Resistance Could Not Be Contained." [Internet] www.iran-e-azad.org [Accessed 3 Mar. 1999]

_____. 7 March 1996. "Mullahs Resort to Intimidation to Ensure Large Turnout in Election Farce." [Internet] www.iran-e-azad.org [Accessed 3 Mar. 1999]

The Record [Bergen County NJ]. 28 December 1998. "Iran Seizes Backers of Dissident Cleric." (NEXIS)

US Department of State. 1997. "Patterns of Global Terrorism." [Internet] www.state.gov [Accessed 3 Mar. 1999]

Xinhua News Agency. 27 January 1997. "4 Rebels Killed in Western Iran." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1998. 1999. United States Department of State. Washington, DC.

Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge]. 1994.

Resource Centre: Iran. Amnesty International country file. August 1996-1999.

Electronic sources: IRB Databases, LEXIS/NEXIS, Internet, REFWORLD, World News Connection (WNC).