Friday, 22 July 2011 12:45 .NCRI – On Wednesday, July 20, in an international conference in Paris, a panel of prominent European and U.S. politicians, together with scholars of international law discussed the responsibilities of the United States and United Nations regarding Ashraf. They stressed that clerical regime’s relentless attempts to annihilate Ashraf residents has converged activities to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis into an internationally urgent matter. The U.S. plan for relocating Ashraf residents inside Iraq was rejected in the conference as a plan that would pave the way for another humanitarian catastrophe.
The speakers in the conference which was presided over by former speaker of Belgian Senate Ms. Anne-Marie Lizin were: Howard Dean, Leader of Democratic Party 2004-2009; Louis Freeh, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director 1993?2001; Yves Bonnet, honorary Governor and former Chief of the French Counter-terrorism Organization (DST); French member of Parliament Jean-Phillipe Maurer, Abdollatifou Aly ; Judge François Colcombet founder of the French Committee for a Democratic Iran; Prominent Jurists honorable Juan Garces and Vera Gouland-Debas, professor in International Law from University of Geneva and Francois Serres executive director of the International Jurists in Defense of Ashraf.
Below is Mrs. Maryam Rajavi speech in the international conference in Paris:
Ladies and gentlemen,
The presence of distinguished personalities as well as eminent scholars and jurists in this conference provides me the opportunity to underscore the legal responsibilities and commitments of the United States and the international community in order to save the lives of the residents of Camp Ashraf and to prevent another massacre.
A week after the Iranian Resistance’s major rally here in Paris, the Central Banker of terrorism, the regime in Tehran, staged an absurd sideshow dubbed as “anti-terrorism” conference. There, the mullahs updated their previous orders to the Iraqi government to close down Camp Ashraf and crackdown on the Iranian opposition. Subsequently, the Iranian regime’s Intelligence Minister declared that “Iraqi officials promised to undertake actions in this respect quite soon.”
On June 30, the daily Az-Zamman International reported that the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had delivered a message by the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to the U.S. Ambassador in Iraq against Camp Ashraf and also cautioning against support for opposition in Syria.
Two days later, we heard the bewildering remarks by Ambassador James Jeffery in Baghdad, proclaiming that the residents of Ashraf should forget about being part of this movement and accept relocation from Ashraf to somewhere in Iraq that is a ‘bit safer’ and farther from the border.
Several days later, on July 13, the Iraqi Ambassador in Tehran, notorious for being in the service of the mullahs, shed all pretenses and told the Iranian regime’s state-run news agency, while using the mullahs’ lexicon, that with the departure of the Americans, the Iraqi government can no longer prevent the outpouring of Iraqis’ “anger against the Monafeqin [Mojahedin] grouplet.”
Previously, on July 4, some 8,500 prominent European and U.S. lawyers and jurists had warned in a statement that the Iranian regime and Nuri al-Maliki enthusiastically welcome the remarks by the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, because those remarks pave the way for a far greater crime against humanity in Ashraf.
General Hugh Shelton, who I believe reflects the sentiments of American people, leaders and heroes, spoke out in Washington, DC a few days ago, describing the idea of disbanding the Mojahedin as disgraceful and scandalous. He said such remarks were irrational, emphasizing that the US Ambassador should have the moral courage to acknowledge the commitments the United States had previously made to the residents of Ashraf.
Members of the Iranian Resistance, in particular the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, will under no circumstances abandon the ideal of democracy and the fight for the freedom of their people and homeland; in the same vein the pioneers of America’s wars of independence and the authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights did not abandon their ideals.
A humanistic and profoundly democratic ideal and the vanguards pursuing it cannot be destroyed. It is the mullahs’ corrupt dictatorship which will disintegrate.
In my view, the Ambassador has forgotten that 23 years ago around this time, in 1988, Khomeini presented our prisoners across Iran with exactly the same choice: the choice between repenting and surrendering or living in a location that was a ‘bit safer’. Thirty thousand political prisoners did not submit to what the regime’s first Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan had described as a degrading and treacherous life. They all welcomed the hangman’s noose.
Look here: several thousand names and pictures have been published in this book. As the Iranian Resistance’s Leader Massoud Rajavi once said, “They have been pathetically dreaming of disintegrating, dissolving and destroying the Mojahedin. But, the Mojahedin march further in the path of honesty and sacrifice and will have to pay the price for the freedom of our people. We must pay that price; we have paid it and will continue to pay it.”
We are, of course, speaking to each other here in France. I recall that when Mr. Sarkozy became president, in one of his first presidential decrees, he ordered that the fallen French heroes who defied the Nazi occupation be honored in text books.
There is a profound difference between standing firm against a dictatorship and repenting or submitting to it; one that is as profound as the difference between being eternal on the one hand and vanishing, destruction, and oblivion (dishonorable death) on the other.
On the anniversary of the French Revolution on July 14, the French President said: “Any dictator who sheds blood must be held accountable before the International Criminal Court. We cannot be content with words only.
We must defend the innocent. We must carry forward these ideas. Otherwise, what purpose would it serve for us to be inheriting the 1789 revolution? What purpose would it serve for this country to be a democracy?”
Indeed, the Court in Spain has summoned the criminals.
Just this month, the Court of Human Rights in Europe condemned the British government for its failure to investigate the slaughter of the residents of Basra and a court in the Netherlands condemned the Dutch government for failing to protect the residents of Srebrenica.
These judicial determinations reflect on the one hand the reaction by the conscience of human society to trampling upon human rights and on the other hand endorse the universal principle of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). They also are indicative of the definitive responsibility of governments and as it relates to Camp Ashraf, and of the responsibility of the U.S. Government to protect the residents of Camp Ashraf and prevent their massacre.
Truly, what is crux of matter when it comes to Ashraf, which several thousand people through a quarter-century of endeavor have turned into a beautiful city, without causing any trouble for any one? Several days ago, 525,000 residents of Diyala Province, some 60 percent of eligible voters in the Province, voiced support for the residents of Ashraf.
The religious dictatorship ruling Iran views this movement and our resistance for freedom as the engine for change in Iranian society and as an existential threat to the regime.
The existence of a democratic alternative, especially when the power struggle among the ruling clique has been aggravated, and the fall of the mullahs’ strategic ally, Syria, is looming, will lead to the overthrow of the Tehran regime. The mullahs, therefore, want to destroy the organized opposition with whatever cost or means.
Iraqi sovereignty, bestowed upon this government by the United States at an enormous price, has been invoked to justify the atrocities and the carnage against Ashraf.
It is common knowledge, as reported by the Agence France Presse on July 6th, that the Iraqi Prime Minister essentially owes his premiership to Iran rulers. According to Dr. Iyad Allawi, the leader of the winning coalition in the elections, Iraq’s new dictator has come to power with the help of the Iranian regime. ”He imprisoned innocent people and brought corruption and human rights violations to new heights”, Mr. Allawi wrote.
Now, you tell me. How could the residents of Ashraf be safe under the protection and responsibility of a government whose commander-in-chief, Prime Minister, as well as the Interior, Defense, Security and Intelligence ministers are the same person? A prime minister who, along with the commander of Iraqi army’s ground forces and others, are under investigation by the judiciary in a democratic European country for perpetrating two massacres at Camp Ashraf.
No one can defend the notion that the protection of a group of people should be given to their murderers. This is unlawful, irrational, unethical, inhumane and unacceptable.
The international community cannot invoke the “sovereignty” argument to refrain from taking deterrent action. Nor can it forego its responsibilities regarding Ashraf on the pretext of signing a security agreement with Iraq.
In late March, President Obama said that the United States cannot “brush aside” its responsibility and “wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.” To do so, he said, would be “a betrayal” of America’s values and identity.
The U.S. Government must not relinquish its responsibilities under the pretext of a security agreement with Iraq. Under what legal and moral standard, the signing of an agreement with another country nullifies and renders void the U.S. commitments to others?
Why does the U.S. embassy in Baghdad not condemn the deadlines dictated by the Iranian regime to close down Camp Ashraf? This deadline is an attempt to circumvent the domestic, regional and international consequences of committing a crime against humanity and to overshadow the call by the international community for a “full, transparent and independent” inquiry.
Did Ambassador James Jeffrey not say recently that the terrorists who target the U.S. forces in Iraq are made from the same cloth as murderous thugs of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps?
Indeed, as the Iranian people are watching, the treatment of Ashraf symbolizes a test for all universal values to which President Obama has committed himself. Ashraf is a yardstick with which the Iranian people will determine on whose side the U.S. is standing. Is it standing with the mullahs’ dictatorship and its proxies in Iraq or with freedom-seekers and the people in Iran?
The United States is responsible for the current predicament of the residents of Ashraf. The current situation in Ashraf emanates from the occupation of Iraq. The residents of Ashraf handed over all their weapons, even their personal arms, to the U.S. forces, who signed an agreement with each and every resident, pledging to assume their protection until their final disposition.
The United States is, therefore, responsible for their protection consistent with international law and based on moral and humanitarian grounds.
Unfortunately, all these commitments and responsibilities have been violated.
– In February 2009, the U.S. handed over the protection of Ashraf to a government, which it knew would crack down on the residents.
– In July 2009, after the first massacre, which proved Iraq is not qualified to protect Ashraf, the U.S. should have reassumed the protection of Ashraf as Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandated. But it did not do so.
– It did nothing to prevent the April 8, 2011 massacre, which had been “feared for long time” as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights warned.
– U.S. forces were present in Ashraf until a few hours before the April 8th attack and were fully aware of the Iraqi army’s mobilization to attack, but did nothing to stop it.
– The U.S. has done nothing to alleviate the humanitarian siege around Ashraf in the past two years, particularly the medical restrictions.
– Except for seven of the wounded, the U.S. refused to treat the other critically injured residents in the American hospital near Ashraf.
– The State Department prevented the publication of the report by a U.S. delegation, which examined the bodies of those killed at Ashraf. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation said during the July 7, hearing, “the acquiescence by the United States and the United States officials in this crime is part of the story. Covering up wrongdoing is itself illegal.”
In addition, Maliki, just like the Iranian regime and its ambassador in Baghdad, is telling the Americans you have put the MEK on the list and we are putting your terrorist designation into effect on the ground in Ashraf.
Indeed, why should Members of Congress from the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation not be able to visit Ashraf? And why has the U.S. embassy in Iraq invoked Iraqi sovereignty and joined Maliki as an accomplice to a cover up?
While the international community is hard at work to find a peaceful solution for Ashraf and the residents reluctantly accepted the European Parliament solution, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, instead of helping to implement this plan, has been practically standing in the way and insisting that the residents be relocated in Iraq without providing any guarantee for their protection. This is while everyone is warning for the third time that such relocation is a recipe for disaster.
For more than two months, a U.S. delegation has been negotiating with the representatives of Camp Ashraf. Surprisingly, even during the talks, the Iraqi forces have pointed their guns at the residents and have maintained their combat formation. Moreover, 300 loudspeakers have been blaring threats and obscenities, especially against the woman, in Ashraf.
Amazingly, the U.S. embassy has so much respect for the sovereignty of Iran’s proxies in Iraq that it does even tell them to allow the provision of fuel, medicine and treatment for the wounded while negotiations are being conduct.
Under the circumstances, it is quite clear that relocation inside Iraq is a recipe for disaster.
In a letter to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Struan Stevenson, President of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Iraq, who, in the course of a long discussion two-and-a -half months ago convinced us to forego the fundamental rights of the residents of Ashraf and accept relocation to third countries as stipulated in the European Parliament Plan, wrote:
“Unfortunately, just a few days after I announced this proposal in Erbil on 29 April 2011, the media quoted a State Department’s anonymous official that the U.S. wants Ashraf residents to be relocated inside Iraq. This dangerous plan, which will only result in the expedited massacre of Ashraf residents, has emerged from the outset as a major barrier to the European Parliament proposal.
“The people of Ashraf are not irresponsible or hard-headed. On the contrary, they are quite flexible and responsible… Although the residents of Ashraf were heavily bombed by U.S. forces resulting in dozens killed and injured, they did not fire a single bullet in retaliation and voluntarily surrendered all their weapons (even personal ones) to the U.S. forces. The U.S. recognized each and every one of them as ‘protected persons’ under the Fourth Geneva Convention and signed an agreement with all of them that in return for their disarming, it would protect them until their final disposition.
“Your nation, which led the Coalition Forces and mine, which supported the Iraq campaign, will one day pass judgment on our actions and our response to the July 2009 and April 2011 massacres in which 47 residents whom the U.S. had given Protected Persons ID cards were killed and 1,071 injured.
”Tacit in the remarks by Ambassadors Jeffrey and Butler is the suggestion that those who are under the U.S. Government’s protection must pay with their lives for their beliefs and their affiliation to the organization to which they are devoted.”
Two weeks ago in Rome, Irene Khan, who was the Secretary General of Amnesty International for a decade, warned in her enlightening and shocking remarks that: “The Iraqi government has made it very clear for the world indeed that the camp will be disbanded and we should read that as code language that people will be hounded, harassed, killed, injured, threatened and pressured to leave dead or alive… In addition to all the threats and fears and risks that the residents of Camp Ashraf have suffered so far, there is now a concern that they could be forcibly relocated inside Iraq. People are not commodities to be moved against their will. Forcible relocation increases the risk of injury and death. It is not clear where the people are going to be moved inside Iraq or who will take care of them. How can the residents trust the government of Iraq to give them protection and assistance in any other location in Iraq when the government has failed to protect them in Camp Ashraf, which is under the glare of publicity everyday. Relocation is froth with risk if it is carried out with the consent of the residents. It could lead to more bloodshed.”
For nearly three months, my compatriots and families of Camp Ashraf have been staging daily sit-ins outside the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, the White House, the State Department and other parts of the world.
The UN Secretary General’s report on UN mission to Iraq pursuant to resolution 1936 of the UN Security Council was released yesterday. The violent incidents of April 7 and 8 in Ashraf were addressed in paragraphs 49 and 66.
Secretary General expressed concern about the loss of life in Ashraf and said: “UNAMI and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for restraint and urged the Government of Iraq to refrain from the use of force contrary to international law. They also called for a thorough investigation into the incident which remains pending.”
He said: “I urge the Iraqi authorities to refrain from the use of force, and to ensure adequate access for camp residents to goods and services.”
He added: “I therefore encourage all stakeholders involved to increase their efforts to explore options and seek a consensual solution that ensures respect for Iraq’s sovereignty while also being consistent with international human rights law and humanitarian principles. To this end, I call upon Member States to help to support and facilitate the implementation of any arrangement that is acceptable to the Government of Iraq and the camp residents.”
While declaring allegiance on behalf of the residents of Ashraf and members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran – a member organization in the National Council of Resistance of Iran whose members adhere to its platform – to all considerations of the Secretary General, allow me to announce the arrangements and the realistic and viable solution for a lasting settlement of crisis in Ashraf in compliance with what the Secretary General has urged for. The key condition for success for what the Secretary General is urging and Baroness Ashton as the EU High Representative on Foreign Affairs has repeatedly announced, is that the United States would abide by its legal, morale and humanitarian responsibilities and timporarily pay the minimum price to protect the lives of innocent and defenseless people whom it has signed an agreement with every single one of them to secure their protection until their final disposition.
1. The United States and the European Union must support the solution offered by the European Parliament to transfer the residents of Ashraf to third countries,
2. Protection of Ashraf residents to be secured and guaranteed by the US, EU and the UN, in particular the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the High Commissioner for Refugees until the transfer of all the residents,
3. Stationing of a permanent UN monitoring team at Ashraf until the completion of the transfer,
4. An investigation under the supervision of the United Nations must be carried out on the April 8 crimes,
5. To make the Iraqi government to comply with the call made by the Secretary General to end any use of force and violence and stop the inhumane siege and psychological torture imposed on the residents and remove all armed forces out of Ashraf.
Thank you all very much