Complaint against BBC Persian’s grave delinquency for promoting radicalism and terrorism

Complaint against BBC Persian’s grave delinquency for promoting radicalism and terrorism

3 May 2020
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Complaint against BBC Persian’s grave delinquency for promoting radicalism, violence and terrorism in Iran and across the Middle East

We, the undersigned, writing to make a complaint against BBC Persian Services/World Services for breaching section 2 and 3 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code and Standards and alternatively various other codes and standards which may also constitute an offence under Section 127 of the Communication Act 2003, after the BBC Persian/BBC World Services has failed to reply to the complaint made in the first instance directly to the BBC Persian/BBC World Services in December 2018.

Below is our editorial complaint the one which suggests that a particular item broadcast on the BBC Persian/BBC World Services has fallen below the standards expressed in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines- standards such as observing due accuracy and impartiality and avoiding unwarranted offence.

The Background

On 22nd of November 2018 BBC Persian Services broadcasted a weekly programme called page 2 (safheye 2) regarding the 20th anniversary of “the Chain murders of Iran" which relates to a series of killings and disappearances of more than 80 Iranian dissidents intellectuals by the Iranian Regime Intelligence Services Operatives between 1988 and 1998 and subsequently an Iranian Regime has officially admitted that these heinous crimes committed by "rogue elements" within Government’s Intelligence Services. The Cleric Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi a former Minister of Intelligence denied having any knowledge about the murders under oath out-of-court in an extrajudicial manner and he was simply eliminated as result from the investigations. The rest of the agents were tried in a closed-door hearing and sentenced very leniently and except the one who allegedly committed suicide in custody, they are free at the present time and some of them, it's been said, even to have some responsibility within Iranian Regime and basically those convicted of the killings were actually "scapegoats acting on orders from higher" up with the ultimate perpetrators including "a few well known clerics.

The page 2 program was hosted by BBC Persian presenter Farnaz Ghazizadeh and the guest speakers were Sohrab Mokhtari a son of Mohammad Mokhtari who was one of the victims of the said killings and Faraje Sarkohi a journalist who is survivor and luckily escaped the killings. The BBC presenter at 36:45 into the program stated that "regarding the killing dissident by Iranian intelligence system, the killings took place and it happened in the past as well but the intelligence services in other countries are not infallible too and they may also kill dissidents then why are you surprised that the Judicial System in Iran did “the chain of murders”? why they shouldn't do"?

The guest speaker Faraje Sarkohi in response stated "well, they shouldn't" and BBC presenter laughed and said "but they do".

The offensive part from the aforementioned program has gone viral in social media and caused a great offence to the Iranian community and so many Iranian dissidents criticised it for normalising and encouraging the state sponsored extreme violence which Iranian Regime is actually very famous around the world for assassinating its dissident within Iran and beyond. The followings are only few examples of the Regime’s murderous acts of terrorism in European Soil.

·       Shapour Bakhtiar former Prime Minister of Iran & the head of the National Resistance Movement of Iran, assassinated in August 1991 in Paris,


·       Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou the head of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, assassinated in Vienna in July 1989,


·       Fereydoun Farrokhzad famous Iranian showman and dissident assassinated in August 1992 in Bonn,


·       Sadegh Sharafkandi the head of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan assassinated in Bonn at Mykonos restaurant in August 1992,


·       Fattah Abdoli one of the leaders of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan assassinated in September 1992 in Berlin,


·       Homayoun Ardalan one of the leaders of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan assassinated in September 1992 in Berlin,


·       Nouri Dehkordi one of the leaders of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan assassinations in September 1992 in Berlin,

and the list goes on ..

It was only few months ago when France blamed Iranian Regime for failed bomb attack near Paris and Iranian Regime has been also accused of plot to assassinate dissident in Denmark last month. After Islamic Republic in Iran's diplomatic venues in France,Austria,Germany and Norway was used as a base to mastermind the assassination of dissidents now Turkey is accusing Islamic Republic in Iran's  diplomats in Istanbul of instigating of a killing of Molavi who was the regime's dissident. Mr Esfanjani a companion in the assassination video who was the leader of the team that carried out Molavi's killing and is linked to Islamic Republic in Iran's consulate in Istanbul. He was spirited across the border into Iran shortly after the mission.

The offensive material contained in Page 2 program has caused a great “annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety” to our community which actually resulted in an immediate reaction of widespread condemnations and shortly after two articles have been published in an Iranian Media outlet Kayhan London to exhibit the critical views of Iranian community about it and also to show the feeling of intense dislike and disgust. It was utterly abhorrent and repugnant to the community to hear the materials on BBC Persian which appear to condoning or glamorises violence and normalisation of violence and state sponsored assassination of dissidents. The material which carries a significant risk of creating “fear or apprehension in any reasonable member of the public who hears it”. To get access to the articles please see the links below:

·       Justify and normalize the government’s assassinations by Mitra Jashni and

·       BBC Persian should apologize to the Iranian people and expel its employee by Hanif Hedarnejad,

We haven't forgotten that in March 2018, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK's intelligence services, and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury, England, with a Novichok nerve agent allegedly by Russian intelligence Services which led to an innocent person being died or the horrific assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal khashoggi at Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey by allegedly Saudi's Intelligence Services. There is a great concern in Iranian community that the said broadcasted materials and the extreme views of normalisation of violence would send a wrong message out that killing dissident by states is a normal and common practice by intelligence services of the different states around the world and therefore, normal, acceptable and you shouldn’t be surprised.

Legal Framework

The BBC Persian has therefore breached section 2 & 3 of The Ofcom Broadcasting Code (with the Cross-promotion Code and the On-Demand Programme Service Rules) as the said Programme “included material which, condones or glamorises violent, dangerous and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour”. Please see section 2 of the Code & (See Rules 1.11 to 1.13 in Section One),

Or under Section 3 of the same Code the said Programme included material to encourage or incite the commission of crime or provides an uncritical platform for an authoritative figure to advocate criminal activity. Please see section 3 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code (with the Cross-promotion Code and the On Demand Programme Service Rules)

This is not an isolated and only offence of the BBC Persian Services, it is also accused of not observing the codes and universal standards of the general practice of journalism for being neutral and unbiased and reporting/providing a fair and objective analysis of the political events and in many occasions in the past, tries to justify the malign activity of the Iranian Regime within Iran and beyond. It has been accused of following a certain line of journalism which is actually quite closed to certain political parties within the Iranian Regime and not providing equal opportunity to the various other moderate voices which are not exactly corresponding with the line of journalism BBC Persian would follow.

The BBC Persian has a Charter obligation to be independent in fulfilment of its mission. It however has repeatedly shown itself incapable of providing impartial reportage on major political issues in Iran. Its latest insults was when the BBC Persian presenter Siavash Ardalan on 22 April 2020 was trying to whitewash the IRGC shooting down the Ukrainian Commercial airliner killing all 176 people on board by firing 2 missiles within 30 seconds by wrongly calling it a mistake while the matter is still under investigation and there is serious allegation that the plane may have been targeted by the IRGC as part of a premeditated effort.


This is despite the fact that on 05 April 2020 a member of Ali Khamenei powerful inner Circle Hassan Noroozi the Islamic Regime's parliamentarian and spokesman for legal and judicial parliament committee has strongly rejected the BBC Persian’s assertion. Noroozi said The Ukrainian airliner was under America’s control and acting suspiciously and it was set special targets because it was tampered with by Israel. Norouzi add “IRGC therefore did their job well and no one will be arrested,” Norouzi’s remarks, suggest the plane may have been targeted by the IRGC as part of a premeditated effort probably that's why regime refuses to hand over the black box.


We believe the BBC Persian is promoting the Islamic Republic’s in Iran political narrative in the BBC Persian/BBC World Services which is funded by the British tax-payer. It’s suspected that the BBC Persian links with the Islamic Republic’s in Iran. It’s alleged that the BBC Persian is acting as propaganda arm of the Regime in Iran.

The BBC Persian promotes the Islamic Republic’s in Iran’s narrative and agenda through not telling the whole story and not disclosing all information and thus interpreting the events in a way that benefits the Islamic Republic’s in Iran’s in most cases. For instance, despite the fact that in Islamic Republic of Iran’s constitution the Supreme Leader is defined as “the Islamic Revolution Leader” and “Islamic Republic Leader”  in various articles, the term which also is always used in Islamic Republic Broadcasting medias within Iran the BBC Persian insisted in its reporting to wrongly call Ali Khamenei “the Supreme Leader of Iran”.

In order to promote and give legitimacy to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) the organisation is sanctioned by the UN and the EU for its regional malign behaviour and alleged terrorists’ activities and being designated a terrorist organisation by United State,

The BBC Persian also wrongly calls the IRGC as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s of Iran which is contrary to the name adopted by the IRGC’s constitution itself. The BBC Persian ignored so many warnings was given to the BBC Persian to stop connecting and linking the Islamic Revolutionary Guard to the Iranian nation and they just fall on deaf ears.

The BBC Persian refuses to describe the full situation in Iran, which can indeed confuse a reader not familiar with the Iran’s context.  We believe there has been a visible pattern in the BBC Persian journalistic pieces and interviews as well, and we are willing to provide you with a report of such bias in the BBC Persian reports.

The followings are more examples showing a visible pattern that the BBC Persian is promoting radicalism, violence and terrorism in Iran and across the Middle East:

1- Qasem Soleimani  the previous head of IRGC-Quds Force, a man who was under UN and EU sanction (Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 668/2010)  for his severe human rights violations in Iran and across the Middle East and his alleged terrorist activity, is regularly promoted by the BBC Persian as national hero. IRGC-Quds Force is designated by the US under Executive Order 13224 since 2007 as terrorist organisation,

2- Giving regular platform to paedophile and misogynist rapper called Tataloo who's telegram account recently was closed because of the paedophile and misogynistic allegations. He is well-known for normalising and promoting violence against female gender. Please note that these allegations are long-standing,

3-Giving platform to many extremists in regular basis -in particular a male called Parham Farhang Vesal who is very well-known for promoting hate crime and violence and publicly calling for another mass burial of the dissidents in Iran,

4-Failing to disclose to the general public the contact details for publishing articles in the BBC Persian’s website such as an email. It’s alleged that the BBC Persian only discloses such an email address among its inner circles who believe in same political narrative as BBC Persian editor,

5- The BBC Persian ignored the serious complaint made in 2018.


Remedy requested

Therefore, we are asking for

       i.         written and unreserved apology and explanation from the BBC Persian Services,


     ii.         damages in the form of a monetary award to be paid to the Iranian community charity/community accounts as compensation to be used for the promotion of peace, democracy and human rights in Iran.


Your Faithfully

Lawyers for Democracy in Iran



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Signatures: 66Next Goal: 100
Support now