February 7, 2012
A European-American Conference was convened on invitation of the Friends of Free Iran intergroup in the European Parliament on February 7, in relation to the current political situation in Iran and the region, and the necessity of protecting Ashraf residents, members of the Iranian opposition. The conference was presided over by Jim Higgins, member of the European Parliament’s Bureau. Dozens of EU parliamentarians, including Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Struan Stevenson, head of the Delegation for Relations with Iraq in the parliament, and many prestigious American personalities such as Howard Dean, former US Presidential candidate and Chairman of the Democratic National Convention, Senator Robert Torricelli, former US Congressman Patrick Kennedy and John Bruton Former Prime Minister of Ireland spoke at the event. The Iranian Resistance’s President-elect, Mrs Maryam Rajavi, was the keynote speaker of the event. Participants underlined the following points:
1. As the uprising in Syria has placed that country’s dictator on the verge of collapse and the tide in the region is rapidly turning against the Iranian regime and its puppet government in Iraq, the Iranian regime’s leader, Khamenei, declared war on the international community on Friday, February 3, in Tehran’s Friday prayer meeting and announced that his regime, in disregard of all international sanctions, will continue its nuclear weapons program and meddling in the region, and will push to establish Islamist regimes in the region. He once again called for the destruction of Israel and claimed that the United States is on the verge of collapse.
2. Such posturing is not from a position of power but reflects the depth of the Iranian regime’s crisis and weakness that prevents it from showing any flexibility. Any compromise by this regime is tantamount to its accelerated downfall and implosion. Khamenei threatened his internal rivals to submit to the will of his Guardians Council as Iranian society seethes with dissent and economic crises engulf the regime. His aim is to forestall yet another round of internal uprisings on the eve of the regime’s sham parliamentary elections. The Guardians Council is comprised of members appointed directly or indirectly by Khamenei himself.
3. The Iranian regime is bent on the destruction of Ashraf residents, members of the main Iranian opposition, before the tide of change reaches Iraq and Iran from Syria, so that it can face that challenge easier. The regime knows very well that the Iranian Resistance movement is the main force that can lead and transform the enormous dissent inside Iranian society towards a fundamental change to democracy.
4. The experience of the uprisings of 2009 and 2011 showed that former members of this regime that are now presenting themselves as the Green movement have never had the political capacity or the moral courage to lead the people’s uprising and in effect provide service to the Khamenei regime to dampen and stifle dissent by sowing seeds of despair among the people. They seek to maintain the current regime structure and constitution without the slightest price and to implant themselves within the institutions of power.
5. The conference on February 6 agreed that the international community, especially the EU and US, should recognize the Iranian Resistance and its President-elect as the legitimate opposition and democratic alternative to the Iranian regime and protect Ashraf residents. This is not only a political and moral obligation but a necessity to achieve world peace. Mrs Rajavi rightfully pointed out that although the sanctions are very necessary, but the lasting solution to rid the world of religious fascism that seeks nuclear weapons is regime change and the establishment of a secular democracy with a non-nuclear stance. This change can only be achieved at the hands of the Iranian people and resistance.
6. The conference condemned any pressures applied to Ashraf residents to force them to transfer to Camp Liberty and stressed that the prerequisite of any transfer of Ashraf residents to Liberty was providing the minimum assurances to the residents – assurances that are legitimate and reasonable and without which Liberty would be nothing more than a prison. The freedom to transfer moveable property and vehicles to Liberty, the lack of a police presence inside of the small Camp Liberty area, freedom of movement, provision of minimum living area, are the minimums that if the Iraqi government is not ready to provide, will show a sinister intention and would therefore preclude any transfer by the residents.
7. The conference expressed great appreciation for Mrs Rajavi’s courageous and goodwill initiative to transfer 400 residents with their moveable property and vehicles to Liberty in order to prepare the way for the transfer of the rest of the residents. The conference expressed hope that the Iraqi government accepts this generous initiative and reciprocates with goodwill. Without providing these conditions, the transfer of the rest of the residents will not be possible.
8- The conference stressed considering all limitation and dangers that exist in Liberty, it strongly supports a solution that following transfer of the first 400 residents to Liberty, the second group would be transferred only when the first group has left Liberty to third countries. In other words, in Liberty, there will never be more that 400 people.
9- The conference, recognizing the efforts of the Special Representative of the United Nation Secretary General, Ambassador Martin Kobler, regarding Camp Ashraf, stresses that he should consider the fact that Ashraf residents, the leadership of the camp and Mrs. Rajavi have shown maximum flexibility and cooperation and have relinquished many given rights in doing so. It is now time that Mr Kobler took an impartial position and bravely defended the minimum rights of Ashraf residents disregarding reactions of the government of Iraq and Iranian regime. He has the international community on his side and undoubtedly can achieve the minimums if he puts aside political considerations.
The conference regretted the fact that the Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 25 December without the agreement or awareness of the residents, and that Camp Liberty was announced to be ready in a statement released on 31 January, again without the knowledge of residents while the camp does not meet international human rights and humanitarian standards. In this regard the conference, in order to clarify any misunderstanding, called for an “Executive Document of the Arrangements of Transfer” to be signed by the Special Representative, the representatives of residents, and government of Iraq to prevent Iraq from violating oral commitments as it has done in the past.
10- The conference applauded the stance of the UN Commissioner for Refugees and called on the UNHCR to start the reaffirmation of refugee status of Ashraf residents objecting imposed limitation by the government of Iraq. For over 5 months this process, which is necessary to resettle Ashraf residents, has been stalled.
11- The conference welcomed and appreciated valuable considerations by the Un Secretary General about Ashraf and asked him and the UN Security Council to condemn limitations imposed against UNAMI and the UNHCR by the government of Iraq and help the Special Representative to take powerful and effective steps toward a peaceful solution for the issue of Ashraf, disregarding pressures of the government of Iraq and the Iranian regime.
12- The conference also called on the European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, Secretary Clinton and the government of United States to take a more active role in this regard, support the United Nations and Ambassador Kobler, provide necessary sources to the UNHCR, and start the process of accepting Ashraf residents specially the ill and wounded in a swift manner. The U.S. government was specifically called on to remove the illegal and illegitimate terrorist tag against the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, MEK, in order to remove the main obstacle on the way of resettlement of residents in third countries and eliminate al-Maliki’s main excuse for suppressing them. With the economic and political leverage available, the international community and specifically the United States should not allow the government of al-Maliki, which has come to power and maintains it with the aid of the United States, to massacre the defenceless residents of Ashraf that the United States accepted the responsibility of their protection legally and officially in 2003.
Friends of a free Iran
Friends of a Free Iran intergroup was formed in 2004 and consists of over 100 MEPs from various political groups