In an international session held in Paris on Saturday, November 5th at the initiative of the CFID Committee (French Committee for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran), European and American personalities called on the European Union, United States and United Nations to take immediate measures to cancel the Iraqi government’s illegal and repressive deadline to close Camp Ashraf by the end of 2011. This call comes after the announcement of US forces’ withdrawal from Iraq by President Obama and also Iraqi forces’ preparations for an attack against the camp.
The speakers at this conference were: Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance; General Hugh Shelton, former US Joint Chiefs of Staff (1997 – 2001); Ed Rendell, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (1999-2001) and Governor of Pennsylvania (2002 – 2011); John Bruton, Prime Minister of Ireland (1994 – 1997) and the Ambassador of European Union to the US (2004-2005); Lord Peter Mendelsohn, European Union Commissioner (2004 –2008) and UK Deputy Prime Minister (2009); Robert Torricelli, US Senator (1997 – 2003); Romeo Florin Nikoara, Romanian Senator; Jean-François Le Garrett, Mayor of Paris 1st district; Jean-Pierre Béquet, member of the Valdoise Provincial Council and mayor of Auvers-sur-Oise.
Below is speech by Governer Ed Rendell:
Thank you sir hello everyone. General Shelton said after listening to Madam Rajavi speak there isn’t much to say, but after listening to General Shelton there really isn’t much left to say but I will take a shot at it.
When we met in Geneva 4-5 weeks ago the situation didn’t look good but since our meeting in Geneva there has been some things to give us hope. Some progress has been made back in America. First fifteen of us Generals, governors, senators, attorney generals, former head of FBI and ambassadors signed a letter to the President of United States and it was published in the Washington Post and the New York Times delineating what had happened the history here. The shameful history that the United States and letting the American people I think for the first time get an understanding of what has been going on at Ashraf.
That was real substantial progress. Secondly we had a rally before the white house. We literally stood before the white house 5000 people supporting the rally and both governor Ridge and myself and many others. Desmond Tutu’s daughter we were all urging the United States to take action to save human lives. As Governor Ridge said to me that day did you ever think when you were growing up when we started to become an elected officials that we be standing outside the white house protesting the inactions of the government of United States and that is one of the great things about America and it got a lots attention. We were on national T.V. at the rally. And again help bring this matter more to the American people’s attention.
The letter General Shelton referenced 42 congressmen signed a letter to the UN Secretary General asking him to take action to remove the deadline and to send a UN monitoring team to protect the residents of Ashraf. What was so amazing about that letter was that there were some democrats and some republicans signing on to the same letter. Now you all don’t know how significant that is but we Americans would tell you that if there was a resolution that today was Saturday it would be very difficult to get Democrats and republicans sign on that resolution. So it is a big impacting statement to show that there is a bi partisan appeal here and that has to put the administration on notice. That the Congress is watching. The American people are starting to watch but so is the congress itself. And then Secretary Clinton has been making statements that give us real reason to hope that they are listening its clear. Secretary Clinton was quoted last week as saying that she understood what the European Union did in its delisting of the Mek as a terrorist organization and she saw the opinion of the European Union that there was no evidence and she is aware of that opinion and that they are doing their own independent review and they are going to make a decision soon. The fact that she talked about the European Union delisting. The fact that she talked about the fact that respected body found no evidence is reason for us to hope. Those are all good things but time is running out. Time is running out. You know that this week there were vehicles massing outside the gates of Ashraf. Many of us in America who have supported this cause got telephone calls and e-mails from you folks here saying look attack could be tomorrow. We got on the phone and talked to the State Department many of us and we got the same run around. Well we are putting pressure on the Maliki government. We are doing this we are doing that. Same run around we get from the UN.UN says well we can’t put a peace keeping force in there because we are not sure we can protect that monitoring force. Well somebody has to step up and act. People can’t keep making excuses here. It is very interesting what is going on. First we need to delist and delist quickly for reasons that General Shelton said lets strip away any other excuse any possible excuse that the Iraqi government has to legitimize an attack on innocent people. That has to happen the evidence or the lack of evidence is overwhelming. In the last ten years there has not been one incident of terrorism on the part of Mek reported by any open source terrorism data base in the world not one not one incident. The test, the standard for US listing terrorist organizations on the FTO is they have to be a threat to the Unites States. Is there anybody here that could make a credible argument that even one scintilla of an argument that the Mek is a threat to the United States and its people? Of course not. The Mek stands for the same things that the United States holds dear. The Mek stands for things that are the core values of the United States of America.
Now another piece of disarming news was when the residents of Ashraf met with the new US ambassador who replaced Ambassador Butler once Ambassador Butler left we had hope for a new regime and the Ambassador was sympathetic and he said and I am quoting from the report from the residents. The residents said that they believe that the US has a responsibility to take certain actions to protect them and he said the Ambassador of the US has no responsibility to take certain actions but he replied we don’t have that responsibility but we are interested to know what we can do to prevent such an outcome. But please don’t count on us. Well Mr. Ambassador that is dead wrong. We do have a responsibility.
When President Obama led NATO in coming in to Libya to try to save genocide from happening in Benghazi originally there was criticism of President Obama and I said and a number of us said the President did the right thing because if the US is going to use its military power the first thing we should use our military power for is to prevent the slaughter of innocent people because who they are what they stand for or what their religion is that is job one to the American military in my judgment.
What happened in Benghazi was an enormous success, and the use and really the show of force more than anything else helped topple a dictator help bring a bit of freedom to the nation of Libya and most certainly it stopped the massacre of literally hundreds of thousands of residents of Benghazi.
So even if there is no history here I would make a strong argument that if there is a clear pattern of attacks on innocent people we have the right and the obligation to step in and protect them. But as General Shelton pointed out it is more than just a general right we never made a promise to the people of Benghazi the people of Benghazi never gave up their arms to the United States military that happened here. 3400 people gave up their arms and agreed to accept disarmament in return for a solemn promise by United States of America that they will be protected. They signed a contract each and every one of them signed a contract with the representative of the US government saying we would protect them so it is much different than Benghazi we gave our word and our word has to be good for something I don’t care what the (?) are I don’t care what the surrounding circumstances are when we get people to give up their weapons and they are relying on our protection we have a moral as well as a legal obligation to be there to do whatever it takes to protect those lives whatever it takes.
Now as many of you may know the governors of the 50 states in the United States are the commanders in chief of the National Guards in their states. No guards man in Pennsylvania been killed in a foreign war since World War II until I became governor. Shortly after I became governor Pennsylvania National Guard units were activated and then shipped out to both Afghanistan and Iraq. Since that time during my time as governor 42 Pennsylvania guardsman had died out of 4000 American troops that had died 42 had died. As governor I had the responsibility of talking to each of the families of those dead guardsmen and in many cases I attended their funerals of those guardsmen. Almost invariably at sometimes during the conversation the people, the families would ask me governor why did Tom die? What did he die for? It is a very difficult question. I would tell them at the very beginning of the war of Afghanistan and Iraq that he died giving his life to make sure that decent peace loving people could live free and they could govern themselves and have a democracy where their views were represented and they were free of terrorism from their own government and that is something important. That is the core of what America believes and things we stand for and those are things that our country was founded on. And that was true. But I am not sure if I was still governor of Pennsylvania, I left in January, and a guardsman was killed this month in Iraq. I am not sure if I could tell them the same thing. I am not sure if I could tell them honestly that he died to establish a government that is free and democratic.
It appears to me our troops died to establish a government that is killing innocent people with no rhyme or reason. In our letter to President Obama we wrote the following. All fifteen of us wrote the following. Mayor Giuliani and I authored this letter. We said in our letter to the President: our country did not sacrifice over 4000 lives to install and protect a government whose cowardly assault on defenseless members of the Mek dishonors and disgraces the memory of our fallen heroes. These brave men and women did not give their lives to support a brutal regime that bends to the will of Iran by harassing wounding and killing innocent people that our military previously promised would be protected. Ladies and gentlemen you watched and many of you has seen it before; you watched that video of the April assault and I am sure it horrified you and disgusted you. But for we Americans and General Shelton turned to me as the video was playing he said to me that is a great scene isn’t it? Defenseless people being shot with American weapons and run over with American vehicles. I felt disgusted and ashamed when I saw that video. How did the United States let that happen? We have a message for our government and I have a message for the Sectary General and all the members of the Security Council.
You can’t assume that people aren’t going to know about this anymore. The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching and the ball is in our court as we say in America. It is time for the American government to step up and lead it is time for the American Government step up and assumes its responsibilities. It is time that the American government stop making excuses and stand for the things that have always been near and dear to the hearts of Americans. Our country was built on our desire to be free and our desire to be protected to do whatever we want to practice whatever religion we wanted those are the core values of America if we stand for anything we have to make sure that not one more resident of Ashraf is injured or killed not one more not one loss is acceptable.
I don’t know how many of you watch American TV or see American shows on TV. There is a commercial out there that is very popular for Nike it says “Do the right thing”. Well our message to our government is the whole world is watching it is time for us to do the right thing. Thank you