In an international conference held in Paris on Friday, January 20, at the invitation of the CFID (French Committee for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran), distinguished American and European dignitaries warned of the compulsory transfer of Ashraf residents to Camp Liberty that the Iraqi government is turning into a prison.
Speakers at the press conference include: Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance; Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York and presidency candidate (2008); General Hugh Shelton, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (1997-2001); Judge Michael Mukasey, former US Attorney General (2007-2009); Ingrid Betancourt, Columbian presidential candidate; Porter Goss, Director of CIA (2003-2006); Yves Bonne, former head of the French Counter-terrorism Agency; John Sano, Former CIA National Clandestine Service’s Deputy Director ; Gen. David Phillips, Commander of U.S. Military Police (2008-2011); Philippe Douste-Blazy, the UN Deputy Secretary General and former French Foreign Minister; Geir Haarde, Iceland Prime Minister (2006-2009); Aiham Samarrae, a former Iraqi cabinet minister; Carlo Ciccioli, member of Italian parliament; Lord Ken Maginnis, member of UK House of Lords; André Glucksmann, a member of New France Philosophers. The conference was opened by Francois Colcombe, a judge and formenr member of the French Palrliaent, and presided over by William Bourdon, prominent French jurist.
Speech by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi in the international conference – Paris
I am deeply grateful for the remarks by the conference chairman as well as the attention and support each and every one of you has given to the residents of Camp Ashraf.
The subject of this conference is the clerical regime’s attempts to annihilate its main opposition, as part of a malevolent policy adopted by the mullahs to preserve their fragile hold on power.
With 43 hangings in the first 20 days of the New Year, the mullahs have set a new record. More people are on death row.
The mullahs have also sentenced three prisoners and supporters of the PMOI to death by hanging.
The regime’s officials have announced the arrest of 32 active members of the PMOI on charges of leading the 2009 uprisings.
This is to set the stage for more criminal rulings.
Meanwhile the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has in one of its mouthpieces called for a military solution to confront Ashraf. The mortar attacks against Ashraf are a manifestation of this policy.
In order to further tighten control over society, the mullahs plan to cut off internet connections in Iran from the rest of the world. The mullahs’ Majlis (Parliament) has passed a penalty for satellite viewers: 6 months to two years imprisonment and 74 lashes.
At the same time, the ruling theocracy has intensified its threats and terrorism, including bombings resulting in many casualties in Iraq, conducting military exercises with the aim of closing the Strait of Hormuz, starting production of 20 percent enriched uranium, and threatening Iran’s Arab neighbours.
Such adventurism is one the one hand designed to blackmail the international community. On the other hand, it is intended to contain and restrain a society whose arisen women and youths are poised to resume the uprisings. This is particularly the case since the mullahs are greatly apprehensive about losing control during their sham elections.
The belligerent stance is meant to cover up the economic free fall. Economic growth is now 0 percent and inflation reached 40 percent this month.
Indeed, all this is to preserve a regime whose ruling elite has been immersed in unprecedented divisions, while defections and fatigue permeate all of the regime’s layers, including the IRGC.
In such circumstances, regrettably, western governments and specifically the United States continue to seek a kind of engagement or accommodation with the religious fascism.
And how does this engagement manifest itself?
• In overlooking human rights abuses in Iran
• In remaining content with displaying mere rhetorical opposition to the regime
• In shelving the regime’s plot to assassinate foreign ambassadors in Washington
• In imposing partial and incomplete sanctions
• And, by portraying the regime’s nuclear program as non-threatening. And several other parameters.
But, the main core of this policy is the insistence to continue the illegitimate designation of the PMOI.
This designation has weakened the international community’s resolve to adopt a firm approach against the central banker of terrorism in the world.
So long as the PMOI unjustly remains on the State Department’s blacklist, the clerical regime would remain reassured that its threats will not be met with a firm response.
As such, it would be a deception or an illusion to think that a policy that has shackled the largest and most organized opposition against the regime could at the same time prove capable of adopting a firm stance against the regime.
It would be a deception or an illusion to think that a policy that participates in the suppression of the Iranian people through such designations could at the same time muster the resolve to prevent the Iranian regime from going nuclear.
Let me talk about the imposition of sanctions against the clerical regime, which has today turned into a global demand. The European Union plans to make a decision in this regard in three days.
We have consistently welcomed the implementation of sanctions, especially blocking the regime’s central bank and adopting an oil embargo, even though we know that attempts to curb the regime’s nuclear threat must be coupled with support for the Iranian people’s struggle for changing the regime.
Still, the EU decision and the sanctions resolutions passed by the US House and Senate signify a big leap forward.
But, the engagement policy of the current US administration and delays on the part of other western governments serve to weaken such decisions, delay their adoption as long as possible and for any measure under consideration, they set the standard of avoiding the drawing of the religious fascism’s ire.
This is where we urged that such a flawed policy be rectified.
The remedy starts with tackling the policy’s key component, which is to end the PMOI’s illegal designation.
This designation has provided an excuse for the Iraqi government to carry out two massacres against Ashraf in the past two years and it is also a pretext for many executions inside Iran.
Yet delisting the PMOI is not solely in the interest of the Iranian people. It would also contribute to rectifying a catastrophic policy while serving the cause of peace and security around the world.
Three weeks after the revoke of the deadline of December 31 I would like to congratulate you as the vanguards of this international campaign. You called on the United States, Europe and the United Nations to adopt a just policy, therefore when the western leaders decide to implement a just policy vis-à-vis Iran, they have to chose the way you have chosen.
Three weeks after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Iraqi government and the UN on the safe and voluntary transfer of Ashraf residents to the new location, the Iraqi Prime Minister has explicitly nullified it. He specifically warned that if all Ashraf residents fail to leave Iraq within the next four months, the Iraqi government would take matters into its own hands.
In addition, he once again pointed to 121 bogus arrest warrants for the residents. These orders are not legally credible whatsoever, and are fabricated by the Iranian regime and the government in Iraq under its influence.
As the Iranian Resistance revealed yesterday, these warrants have no dates, do not name any judges, have no administrative reference numbers.
The real spirit of the MoU, as stressed by the UN Secretary General, US Secretary of State and other governments, is to safeguard the safety and security of all the residents when relocating them from Ashraf to Liberty and from Liberty to third countries. Now the Iraqi Prime Minister has nullified the fundamentals of this agreement.
Threatening to attack, making arrests people, building a prison with high walls at the new camp and imposing a forcible relocation reveal parts of a plan that is being directed by the clerical regime in Iran.
What the Iraqi government is carrying out under the banner of imposing its sovereignty is in actuality the implementation of the velayat-e faqih regime’s policy of annihilating the most significant opposition force against the regime in Tehran.
However, as the Resistance’s Leader, Massoud Rajavi, said recently, “If anyone supposes that they can annihilate the PMOI they are mistaken. … If anyone thinks the PMOI would abandon the goal of overthrowing the velayat-e faqih regime, they are mistaken. The overthrow of this regime is our and our people’s inalienable right, regardless of the location and the circumstances.” And this will happen.
Before the opportunity for implementing a solution is lost, we must now warn that the clerical regime and the Iraqi government are engaged in a dangerous exploitation of UN organs in order to relocate the residents of Ashraf from a threatening situation to a catastrophic one.
The trust placed in the UN must not be turned into an instrument for the Iraqi government to build a prison inside a garrison for the residents of Ashraf.
The world bears witness to the fact that the Iraqi government is neither willing nor capable to honor the promises it made to the UN and the international community.
But the main question is: why is the UN remaining silent then?
Faced with such a ruse, the UN must not allow the Iraqi government to proceed with the extraordinary reduction of the size of the new camp.
On the basis of their own mandates and in view of the principle of international responsibility to protect (RtoP), UNAMI, the UNHCR and the UN must prevent forcible displacement, warn against it and take action with respect to it.
We relied on Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s December 26 statement which stated, “Any violence or attempt at a forcible solution would be unacceptable.”
The residents of Ashraf were not involved in the signing of the MoU, have no information about their new residence, and do not agree with its humiliating and prison-like conditions.
The entire relocation is compulsory; every single component of it is compulsory; everything about it is compulsory.
The UN has the highest levels of trust, the broadest scope of authority, and consequently the greatest degree of responsibility in this issue.
The UN considers its authority to be to the extent that it signs an agreement with the Iraqi government over the fate of the residents of Ashraf without the latter’s knowledge or agreement. So, in light of the Iraqi government’s destructive policy, the UN cannot relieve itself of all responsibility.
And, five months after refugee applications by each and every one of the residents of Ashraf were submitted, why is there no word yet about the UN role as a facilitator for determining their refugee status?
Why has the Iraqi government been able to obstruct the work of the UNHCR?
Why was such a long period of time allowed to be lost?
It is imperative for the UNHCR to avoid delaying the determination of refugee statuses for Ashraf residents any longer.
The urgent situation of the residents, the extraordinarily slow process of their transfer, and the obstructions caused by the Iraqi government make it an imperative for the UNHCR to adopt an approach for the one-time and group determination of refugee status for the residents of Ashraf.
This is an inevitable step towards ensuring the safety and security of the residents of Ashraf in the face of a variety of inescapable threats.
Now, the Iraqi government has exerted pressure on the UNHCR to choose between a bad and a worse option.
The UNHCR should not legitimize a situation that is not on par with the current living conditions of Ashraf residents.
Additionally, I should once again stress the need to provide minimal assurances; a secure and voluntary relocation with sufficient guarantees that the residents will be immune from any sort of harassment or arrests.
In her December 25 statement, the US Secretary of State stressed that, in order to be successful, this relocation process must enjoy the full support of Camp Ashraf residents.
Consistent with this statement, I call on the US to prevent the relocation from becoming an involuntary one and to also prevent the UN from giving in to the Iraqi government’s pressures.
There is no doubt that the Unites States is particularly responsible for the safety and well-being of the residents and must be countable for its legal and moral obligations.
Do not allow a repeat of the bitter and catastrophic failure of the UN in Bosnia, this time with respect to the residents of Ashraf.
The secretary General of the Unites Nations has constantly stressed on a voluntary relocation of the residents with a peaceful and lasting solution that contains the sovereignty of Iraq as well as human rights and International humanitarian law for the residents.
Now that the Iraqi government has violated the MoU, which bears its own signature, I urge the UN to report the matter to the Security Council and to request a new decision to be made for saving this solution.
And, finally, I want to reiterate Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s recent remarks in Beirut, where he said, “The old way, the old order, is crumbling. One-man rule and the perpetuation of family dynasties, monopolies of wealth and power, the silencing of the media, the deprivation of fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of every man, woman and child on this planet — to all of this, the people say: Enough!”
Indeed, enough is enough! The era of religious fascism has come to an end in Iran, and this offers an occasion for the UN and the international community to stand with the Iranian people and their resistance.
I thank you all.