Members of Congress and former diplomats Thursday invoked John F. Kennedy, the civil rights movement and Thanksgiving as they called on President Obama to keep America’s promise to protect Iranian dissidents languishing in an Iraqi refugee camp, The Washington Times reported on Thursday.
“This is a humanitarian crisis that calls out for resolution,” Marc Ginsberg, U.S. ambassador to Morocco under President Bill Clinton, told Iranian-Americans gathered at the Cannon House Office Building.
They also demanded that Mr. Obama persuade Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to release seven dissidents kidnapped in a Sept. 1 raid, in which gunmen killed 52 unarmed Iranians in Camp Ashraf, which was a refugee compound north of Baghdad.
Mr. John R. Bolton, a U.N. ambassador under President George W. Bush, noted that the U.S. provided refugee protection to all of the dissidents but failed to honor its commitment.
“This is an embarrassment. This is a stain on the reputation of the United States,” he said, calling on Congress to grant the dissidents political asylum and get them “out of the death trap they are in.”
Rep. Ted Poe recalled that the dissidents have been attacked five times since 2009, when U.S. forces handed Iraq the responsibility to protect them.
“The fight is not over,” the Texas Republican told the Iranian-Americans, who have friends and relatives among the dissidents. “It’s not going away.”
Invoking Thanksgiving, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said Americans next week will gather with their families to count their blessings.
“If we are truly grateful we will help those who are struggling against injustice and tyranny,” the California Republican added.
Rep. Danny K. Davis said that, as a veteran of the civil rights movement, he shares the Iranians’ quest for justice.
“The road to freedom is often very long,” the Illinois Democrat said. “I come from a people who know that. Struggle, struggle, struggle and pain are the prerequisites to change.”