A European-American Conference was convened on invitation of the Friends of Free Iran intergroup in the European Parliament on February 7, in relation to the current political situation in Iran and the region, and the necessity of protecting Ashraf residents, members of the Iranian opposition.
Alejo VIDAL-QUADRAS, Vice-President of the European Parliament: Thank you, thank you very much Jim. Mrs. President, dear friends, it is a great pleasure to welcome you again in our house, Mrs. Rajavi. And as Jim as just said, it’s also a great pleasure to warmly welcome our American guests, Governor Howard Dean, Senator Torricelli, and Congressman Patrick Kennedy, and of course our good friend John Bruton, Prime Minister of Ireland.
Last week, the so-called Supreme Leader of Iran said that his regime would continue with its nuclear weapons project, intensify its presence and influence in Iraq and work for the rule of Islamic parties in the region. He also emphasized it’s not the first time they said that Israel should be destroyed. He also instructed his internal political opponents not to protest if they are not elected in March elections and not to, and I quote, “Help the enemy but to submit to and obey the will of the Guardian’s Council.” So we can imagine what kind of elections can be held in a dictatorship of this sort. (Many speech) and the developments of the past months clearly prove or demonstrate four realities. First, the Iranian regime has no intention to abide by international laws and will not give up its oppression, terrorism and nuclear program. The second reality is that the regime relies mainly on our weak policies, on the weak policies of the West. It sees the European sanctions as indeed painful but they are convinced they will unite the country more strongly. Third, the only solution to get rid of the nightmare of this fundamentalist totalitarianism that soon could be armed with nuclear weapons, the only solution to get rid of it is to bring democratic change to Iran. And fourth, this regime is paradoxically weak, vulnerable, and plagued by internal and external crisis. A change of regime is needed if the West were to deprive the regime of its assistance, and it would instead to lend its support clearly to the democratic opposition this change could be possible.
These four realities or these four principles must be our guide in our relations with Iran. But regrettably, our governments overlook them for economic interest, short term policy considerations or some other reasons that sometimes are not transparent. Therefore, they have consistently failed in the policies towards Iran. The West’s weak policy towards Ashraf also emanates from this same problem. Ashraf residents are a tool to achieve a democratic Iran in a region free from insecurity, unrest, and fundamentalism. Therefore, protection of Ashraf residents is not just a humanitarian cause which it is indeed, but a key issue to peace in the Middle East and throughout the world.
We have discussed widely on these matters with the special representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Iraq, also with the special envoys of Secretary of State Clinton and her representative for Foreign Policy and Security Policy of the European Union over the past few days. Let me mention some of the points we have dealt with these representatives.
As Ashraf residents and President Rajavi have declared countless times, we want a peaceful solution that protects both the lives, the human rights, and the dignity of the residents. They are brave people; they are committed people and we all know they will never relinquish their ideals to save their lives. The issue of Camp Liberty turning into a prison or not should be given special attention by the United Nations representative in Iraq. The minimum guarantees that the residents are asking for should be provided and I underline that these requests are really minimum. If residents were to be deprived of their assets and vehicles, denied adequate space and freedom of movement and be under constant surveillance by police, Camp Liberty would not be a transition resettlement installation, it would be a prison. And in this case, I fully agree, we must all fully agree with the residents that they should not accept a transfer because if they accept to be transferred to a prison they are in risk to lose not only their lives but their human dignity. We encourage the Secretary General Special Representative in Iraq not to agree to such conditions and instead ask the government of Iraq to facilitate the transfer from Ashraf to Camp Liberty in a way that respects the standards applicable to the refugees. These minimums are achievable if there is sufficient political will to claim them.
The most important issue is the resettlement of Ashraf residents in European or in general Western countries. We are working on this. We are working actively on this. We have organized in the European Parliament a task force and a committee with several member states for the issue settlement. I am following this issue in my own country and many of my colleagues are urging the governments to accept the residents especially and initially to most critically ill and wounded. But the above-mentioned issues and concerns we have about Camp Liberty need to be solved as soon as possible.
Finally, I want to have a very special thought for Ashraf residents to address them directly. Dear friends in Ashraf, you have provided us with one of the greatest examples of resistance in modern history, 33 years of struggle against cruel dictatorship intensifying these last nine years. Whenever the solution comes, whenever the democratic change comes to Iraq, you will know that you have been the driving force for the uprising in Iran and symbols of resistance and dignity in the region and the world over. Mrs. President, I congratulate you sincerely for your leadership and I (bring) today to you that you can count on us to find for our friends in Ashraf a peaceful, dignified solution and we are really expecting to have all of them among us very soon. Thank you