A number of non-governmental human rights organizations, European parliamentarians, and international lawyers met on Wednesday September 21 at the UN European Headquarters in Geneva and warned about another imminent Srebrenica-like massacre at Camp Ashraf and called for an urgent measure for protection of its residents.
The speakers to the conference were: Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance; Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament; Struan Stevenson, President of the Delegation for Relations with Iraq in the European Parliament (presenter of European proposal for Ashraf crisis); Ruth N. Wedgwood , jurist; Sid Ahmed Ghozali, former prime minister of Algeria; Nontombi Tutu, human rights activist and the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Madeleine Rees, Secretary General of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Christiane Perregaux, co-President of the Legislative Council in Geneva; Gianfranco Fattorini, Co-Chair of Movement against Racism and for Friendship among the Peoples (MRAP); Marc Falquet, Member of Geneva Parliament; and Daniel Neeser, pastor. The conference was presided over by Michel Joli, Secretary General of Mitterrand Foundation (France Libertés).
Below is speech by Alejo Vidal Quadras, EP vice-president:
Merci monsieur le Président. Mrs. President, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased that in coincidence with United Nations Human rights consultation, I have been invited to participate in this roundtable to defend a very important human rights case in our world today, the situation of the residents of camp Ashraf in Iraq. This might seem like an exaggeration to some people to refer to Camp Ashraf as a very important case, especially in the Middle East where everyday many human beings lose their lives at the hands of dictators and terrorists. And especially when one considers that the murder of innocent people irrespective of nationality, religion, political inclination or race has become part of the landscape in the region.
However, the case of Ashraf has a deep significance that I want to point out. By conducting a massacre in Ashraf, the Iranian regime wishes to continue its suppression of the uprising of a whole nation of about 80 million people.
It is looking to obliterate a source of inspiration and hope for the majority of the Iranian people who aspire to live in democracy and freedom. But the mullahs in Tehran have a wider objective too, by eliminating Ashraf and the PMOI they want to remove the most important political and cultural impediment against Islamic fundamentalists. In the Moslem world we are witnessing a confrontation of two interpretations, two types of Islam.
One is the Islam of violence, backwardness and misogyny that is represented by the mullahs in Iran.
The other is the Islam of tolerance, peace, human rights which the Iranian resistance, Mrs. Rajavi and the Ashraf residents promote and practice. In a nutshell, the suppression of Ashraf paves the way for widespread massacres in Iran and the spread of fundamentalism in the region.
On the contrary, protecting Ashraf is tantamount to defending democracy in this convulsed part of the world.
Three years ago, in October 2008, during a three day visit to Ashraf that I will never forget, I met and spoke with hundreds of residents and came to realize that Ashraf people are a moral and spiritual example for the people of Iran and a credit to the Islamic community.
What I witnessed in Ashraf was a model, a model of morality, of solidarity and of brotherhood. This is in essence what has helped Ashraf residents to resist all pressures over the years. I am sure that any visitor to Ashraf will draw the same conclusions from this unforgettable experience.
I will not repeat here what probably international experts, Struen, have said already or the very important arguments the rest of the panellists are going to express this afternoon, I will instead share three points with you in the time I have been given.
The first point is what Mrs. Rajavi is requesting from the United Nations for the protection of Ashraf is something very concrete and very practical, the UNHCR has already taken a significant step and now the secretary general, the UNHCR and UNAMI should take another step forward and place Ashraf under permanent monitoring by stationing observers in the camp.
We are aware of the difficulties and the risks of this move for the United Nations mission in Iraq, of course we are aware of this. But if we make this request is because of the high probability of a devastating massacre in the coming weeks.
The written declaration of November 25th ,2010 by the European Parliament approved by absolute majority, rights, and I quote, the cause on the high representatives of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to urge the United Nations to provide urgent protection for Ashraf.
Following the position adopted by UNHCR, we are working in full force for the European Union to support and facilitate the stationing of observers in the Camp. Mrs. Rajavi has declared that the Iranian community in the world and families of Ashraf residents are even prepared to pay the expenses for protecting the UN observers.
This demonstrates the unique capacities of these resistants. However, we must take into account that practical problems can always be overcome.
The question is not so much practical but political. The question is to find the political will in the United Nations, in the European Union and in the United States to act. In particular, the European Union should exert political pressure on the government of Iraq to respect the United Nations High Commission Refugees declaration and suspend the deadline.
My second point is that I am fully familiar with a psychological warfare and the demonizing campaign of the Iranian regime against Ashraf.
The Iranian regime invests enormously so that we stop supporting the Iranian resistance in the European Parliament. And despite all their efforts, we recognized this psychological war and stood against it.
I must say I feel extremely disappointed when I hear sometimes that bogus information receives attention in the United Nations and its related bodies.
Five delegations from the European Parliament have been to Ashraf and they investigated everything and everybody.
My good friend and our partner Paulo Kasaka who led several delegations to Ashraf published a comprehensive report in several languages that offers answers to all questions raised. I suggest that the High Commissioner for Human Rights dispatches a delegation to Ashraf with enough time to spend there in order to carefully examine every aspect of life in the camp and then to publish a report based on first hand research and not on the reports fabricated by the Iranian regime.
And my third and final point is that the Iranian resistance in Ashraf has offered strong evidence of their commitment to political and moral values that we, in the democratic world consider as essential to building an open society.
When I read the political program that President Rajavi has proposed for her country for the future, I always say the same, where can I sign? Because this is exactly what we believe in the European institutions, no difference.
Unfortunately, the United States, the European Union have been sometimes obstructing the path of the Iranian resistance in Ashraf.
As a European, when I think of how we labelled the movement with the Terrorist Act against factual information and against legality, I feel deeply embarrassed. And when I see that, in Iraq, the country we supposedly wanted to liberate, the United States leaves unarmed and defenceless Ashraf residents exposed to deadly attacks by powerful military forces, frankly, I do not understand such contradictions.
We should not allow this grave violation of human rights to be repeated. The future of the region in a growing world peace and stability depends crucially on the transformation of Iran into a true democracy, where the rules of law and equality between men and women, the respect of human rights and religious freedom are the principles that inspire legislation and common behaviour.
We should work full steam ahead and rise to our responsibilities to support the Iranian Democratic Resistance and protect Ashraf.
It is the future of Iran, it is the future of the Middle East but it is already our future which is at stake.
Thank you very much.