Washington DC – February 3, 2012 – US Congress conference – Uphold Justice enable peaceful resettlement of Camp Ashraf residents
I’m Alan Dershowitz, Professor at Harvard Law School. I’m here to tell you that we are in a human rights emergency. This is no longer an academic issue. This is no longer an issue that we have time to ponder and consider. We are in a real emergency.
The reason we are in an emergency is that Iraq has become utterly unpredictable. Imagine you being an insurance company being asked to write insurance policies on the lives of anybody today in Iraq. No reasonable insurance company would do that. And then imagine that you are asked to write an insurance people for people who are hated, and for good reason, by the current Mullahs in Iran who are now calling the shots in Iraq.
The risks to the lives of every single member of the MEK, ever single resident of Camp Ashraf, are immediate, real, clear and present. There is no time for further discussion and debate. We must take action. And the action we must take is twofold.
Number 1, the MEK must immediately be delisted. That is required by law. It’s required for morality and it is required by facts of the case. The United States Court of Appeals has issued an order demanding that the State Department reconsider. The State Department has been dragging its feet. They have been speaking out of two sides of their mouth. We have been on the phone repeatedly with State Department representatives.
On the one hand they tell us it doesn’t matter at all whether the MEK is listed or delisted. On the other hand, they are telling us that European countries won’t take members of the MEK and the reason for that is precisely because they were remain listed.
It is very hard for the United States to tell a European country to take members of the MEK and residents of Camp Ashraf, when the United States won’t take the single action that Britain has taken and the European Union has taken of taking these people off the list.
They must be taken of that list. It matters greatly. It matters under American law; it matters under perceptions, it matters under the realities of the situation. I am very worried about the two-step process now under consideration. First moved a few hundred to Camp Liberty and then move the rest to Camp Liberty.
Imagine what will happen the minute Camp Ashraf is abandoned. The first thing that could happen is for the Iraqi police to go in and discover evidence of terrorism.
We know it’s not beyond the capacity of the Iraqi police and the Iranian intelligence agencies to plant false, incriminating evidence against members of Camp Ashraf. That is something they are likely to do. Which is why I’m employing today for the Iraqi Government to allow inspection of Camp Ashraf the moment we leave to allow people from, for example, Louis Freeh’s ‘s office.
Louis Freeh know how to find evidence of criminality. He did it for years and years and very effectively. Let his people go in there and let them certify that there’s no evidence of terrorism. We know there’s no evidence of terrorism. We know there’s no terrorism.
There has to be an inspection with photographs, with forensic evidence to forbid the Iraqi Government from planting evidence. Because what the Iraqi Government is now looking to do, they are looking to make excuses to do what they know they would like to do. And that is once again attack the residents of Camp Ashraf. They need a reason for doing it because they
are being watched by the world as a result of this great human rights activity that we are all engaged in today.
This is one of the classic human rights activities and activities projects, and it’s been very successful in bringing this matter to the attention of the international community and the international media.
The Iraqis know we are watching them. But they are still looking for excuses to know what they want to do. We have to make sure they have no such excuses. So the first thing has to be de-listing. Because the Iraqi Government says we are dealing with terrorists. We are dealing with people the United States Government has declared to be terrorists and who are sympathetic with terrorists.
The fact you call somebody a terrorist doesn’t, however, make them terrorists. There is no evidence. We know that, that any military action or terrorist action has occurred, certainly not in the last decade. And the second thing that has to be done. We have to start thinking not about the transfer from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty. That is short-term and very dangerous first step.
The ultimate goal has to be to make sure that every resident of Camp Ashraf no longer is within the jurisdiction of Iraq. They must be moved out of the Iraq —
We can’t wait until the European countries and United States and Canada and other countries are willing to accept members. There has to be an intermediate step. Whether it’s an airlift to Jordan or an airlift to another country, somewhere where they are out of Iraq.
We are not talking about comfort. Oh, you’re worried that there won’t be this facility or that facility. That’s not the ultimate issue. That’s a concern. But it’s not the ultimate issue. The ultimate issue is the safety, physical safety of the residents.
They prefer to be in Jordan in a worse facility than in Iraq in a better facility. Because they know if they are out of Iraq, their lives will not be in danger. So we have to move toward this two-step process.
There is an emergency, as I have said. There’s no time for the usual procedures of the courts to go slowly. The de-listing has to occur immediately. We are going to be filing briefs in the United States Court of Appeals which calls for the Court to order the State Department to de-list them immediately. (Applause)
I have a recurring nightmare. And the nightmare is that at the next of these meetings, at the next of these human rights events we will be asking the question why didn’t we do more to prevent a humanitarian tragedy?
Human rights activists generally look back. And they look back in sadness and they ask the question Samantha Powers asked in her great book about President Clinton when President Clinton acknowledged that he made a terrible mistake by not doing more to prevent some of the genocides in Africa. And I’m terrified that we will be posing those questions to ourselves. Why didn’t we do more?
We are in a unique position today as human rights activists. We can prevent a humanitarian disaster. We can actually do something to save lives.
He who saves a single human life is if they have saved the world. That is part of the Christian tradition, Jewish tradition and Moslem tradition. We are a position to say human lives.
And as my friend Elie Weisel, who has told me to say that he cares deeply, deeply about the residents of Camp Ashraf reminds me over and over again for him the main lesson in the holocaust has always been, take the threats of your enemies more seriously than the promises of your friends. Now we are friends with people at Camp Ashraf. We, as a government, the United States has made promises. We are not keeping those promises. It is a scandal that the United States is not keeping its promise.
We demanded of the residents of Camp Ashraf that they give up their ability to defend themselves in exchange for a solemn and sacred promise that we would take over their defense; we would protect them.
In this Capitol building I call on the United States Government — keep its promise. Save lives. Rescue the residents of Camp Ashraf. Thank you, very much.