John Bruton: Sovereign nation of Iraq exercises the sovereign responsibilities to protect the people of Camp Ashraf

In an international conference held in Geneva on Thursday, September 22 by the Swiss Committee in Defense of Ashraf, prominent European and American dignitaries and personalities expressed their deep concerns about intentions of the Iranian regime and the Iraqi government against residents of Ashraf and especially the illegally set deadline of December 2011 for closing the camp.  The conference called on the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commission for Refugees and UN High Commission for Human Rights as well as the United States to take immediate measures to provide protection for Camp Ashraf and prevent repeat of similar massacres of the past and also press the Iraqi government to cancel the 2011 deadline until the resettlement to third countries of all residents is finalized.

Below speech by John Bruton. He is a former Irish Prime Minister, who helped transform the Irish economi one of the fastes growing economies in the world. He was also Ambassador of the EU to the US until October 2009:

 President Rajavi, Ladies and gentlemen, Iran is the cradle of probably the oldest civilization of the world. It is also the cradle, as we have seen, of one of the most talented civilisation in the world, as we listened to the beautiful music generated by Iranian citizens currently living in exile in Iraq. It is also, as we have seen, one of the most courageous civilizations in the world. As we saw, in the tremendous courage displayed by all the Iranian people protesting against a flawed election in their country and looking for a genuine expression of democracy.

Iran represents a truly great global civilization as we see in the rallies that your organization arranges around the world – a large numbers of people who come to attend, to express an interest in the restoration of the rights of their relatives at home, in Iran.

The regime in Tehran at the moment is as President Rajavi pointed out, deeply oppressive. But it is not only deeply oppressive it is an historic betrayal of a great civilization. It is a deep shame for the generations, the passed, generations of Iranians that their current country should be governed in the fashion that it is.
And it is vital that democracy is restored in Tehran. It is important not only to have courage, but also to have hope.

And I wondered as I attended a rally attended by between, perhaps, 150000 people in Paris a few months ago. And I saw the deep expression of anxiety in the eyes of all those attending that about what was happening in Camp Ashraf and what was happening at home in Iran. And I wondered what hope have these people of achieving something within a reasonably short time. But I must say I am encouraged by what has happened since that rally took place.

We have seen in the last few days the European Union, and I am proud to be one of the 500 million citizens of the EU to see the EU make the decision through the agency of Baroness Ashton to appoint a special ambassador specifically to concern himself, on behalf of the EU, with the problem of Camp Ashraf, Mr ?

I had the pleasure, and took the opportunity to meet the newly appointed ambassador M. ? in the last three days in Brussels. I can assure you he is deeply aware of the appalling events and the appalling suffering that has been inflicted upon the residents of Camp Ashraf. He has a deep sense of responsibility. He will visit Camp Ashraf, he will stick to the people, he will visit the USA, he will rally support throughout the world to ensure that justice and freedom is obtained for those people at the earliest opportunity.

There is another, I think, important example of the results of your agitation. And that is in the decision of the UN Commission on Refugees to step over the Iraqi government which is failing to make an arrangement to determine the refugees status of the individuals living in Camp Ashraf and to directly itself, as the UNHCR, appoint people to interviewing individually.

Each one of the 3400 residents of Camp Ashraf to determine whether or not they are refugees and I have no doubt that the determination will be favourable in all cases. And indeed, it is not only that, the UN Commission on Refugees has specifically said that it must be free to conduct these interviews with each of these individuals in a safe, neutral and confidential location. But UN personnel are going to be interviewing the residents of Camp Ashraf and the UN says that those interviews must take place in a safe, neutral and confidential location.

Well that clearly means that the UN is taking responsibility to ensure that those interviews are taking place in a safe location, which means that the UN must now follow up by appointing people to ensure that Camp Ashraf itself is safe. So these interviews can take place in a safe place.

I would now like to conclude by addressing one important issue, and that is the issue of the sovereignty of Iraq. Yes, Iraq is a sovereign country and Iraq does have the right to control over all of it territory as all sovereign states do. That’s true. But it is important to recall that with every right goes a responding responsibility. Indeed it is impossible to have rights without responsibilities. And the right that Iraq has to sovereignty in its territory brings with it a responsibility to ensure that anyone who is in its territory, whether they be Iraqi natives or people who are seeking asylum from oppression that they are protected, that their lives are protected, that they are safely protected and that their freedom is protected. And I think we have to say quite clearly to the Sovereign democratic government of Iraq that it is failing and has failed lamentably to exercise properly the corresponding responsibilities to protect that go with the rights of sovereignty as far as the residents of Camp Ashraf are concerned. And I believe the European Union which has given already one billion Euros towards reconstruction of Iraq, and as you know probably only too well, Euros are increasingly scarce in Europe. We need to keep as many of the Euros as we can here at home, so much of the things that we need to do in our own country.

But if further assistance is to be in our own countries, if further assistance is to be given to Iraq, I think that should be made conditional on insuring that the sovereign nation of Iraq exercises the sovereign responsibilities to protect the people of Camp Ashraf.

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