International Conference in Paris Calls for Protection of Ashraf Residents

147

An International Conference held in Paris, France, heard from many important speakers, who came from all over the world to support the Iranian dissidents in Camps Ashraf and Liberty.

Judge Michael Mukasey spoke about the terrible conditions in Camp Liberty and the failure of the UNHCR, Ambassador Kobler and UNAMI to do their jobs. He said UNHCR appears to be preparing to certify Camp Liberty as being in compliance with necessary standards, even though it is clear the camp is not in compliance. He said UNHCR appears to be doing this “so as to shift responsibility to others and to suggest that any refusal by Ashraf residents to be taken to Camp Liberty is unreasonable and that the Ashraf residents themselves are to be blamed for any bad consequences.”

Judge Michael Mukasey said the US should withold funding from the UN and the UNHCR in particular if it does not live up to its obligations. He likened the ironically named Camp Liberto to a prison or concentration camp.

The Time for Talking Is Over, The Time for Action Has Come

Rudy Giuliani, the Former Mayor of New York City said one of the main messages from this Conference should be that time is running out for the 3,300 people in Camp Ashraf. he said “the time for talking is over, the time for action has come.”

Porter Goss, Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency said Cap Ashraf is “a manifestation of failure of the world’s leadership to do what it’s supposed to do about the values we all cherish.” He also said the US and world policy of preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons has failed.

Director John Sano, Deputy Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service said while the world is aware of Iran’s opposition to the MEK, very little is known about the covert mechanisms that Tehran uses to continue to propagate the falsehoods against the MEK and promoting continued oppression and violence against the innocent residents of Camp Ashraf.

General Hugh Shelton, 14th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, between 1997 and 2001 said that in spite of an agreement signed between Maliki and the United Nations, the conditions at Camp Liberty are “deplorable and not even close to being fit for human beings to reside in.” The General told the conference the camp has no water, no electricity, no basic infrastructure. He said it “resembles a prison camp.”

Speech Excerpts

The following are excerpts from speeches and videos by speakers at the Paris International Conference.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani – Former Mayor of New York City

So let us begin with the most important and the timeliest item, and that’s Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty. One message has to emerge from here loud and clear. Time is running out for the 3,300 brave, patriotic citizens, your brothers and sisters, our brothers and sisters, in seeking peace, democracy, a decent life. And that is, the time for words are over, and the time for talking is over, the time for action has come.

Let’s make it clear that all of us here today stand with the people of Ashraf. We stand with them. We are not going to allow them to be oppressed. We are not going to allow them to be harmed. We are not going to allow them to be ignored. And we are not going to allow the UN, the Iranian regime, Maliki, or even the United States to stand by and watch them be forgotten. Because no matter what happens, we will stand up for them. We are with them as if we are in that camp with them today. Whatever they do to them, they do to us.

It’s disgraceful for the UN to submit to the demands of a regime like Maliki’s and ultimately to close its eyes to the fact that really what they’re doing is submitting to the demands of the Iranian mullahs and Maliki is just a puppet on a string doing the bidding of the Iranian mullahs. And it’s outrageous for the UN to do this. And I would like to make it clear as I did at the very beginning as I conclude that yes, they better act. But they better remember that if they don’t act and some serious harm comes to these people, we will not forget and we will know who to hold responsible and we will make that clear all over the world in every venue possible. And the legacy of these people will become having stood by while atrocities were permitted. And we’ll make sure that legacy lives with them because they deserve it. So they better act and they better act now.

Speakers at the Paris International Conference.
Speakers at the Paris International Conference.

General Hugh Shelton – The 14th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1997 to 2001

Today in spite of the UN agreement that Maliki signed, the conditions at the camp are deplorable and not even close to being fit for human beings to reside in. It now has dilapidated trailers, no water, no electricity, it lacks basic infrastructure, no recreational areas, not a tree in sight. It resembles a prison camp. And now the Iraqis are constructing a 3.6 meter concrete wall around that .5 kilometer area. It truly resembles a prison.

Ambassador Kobler, the UNSG special rep, must bring the violations of the MOU to the attention of the secretary general and to the Security Council.

If the UNHCR, if UNAMI, if the United States remain silent on this issue then we are complicit. We are as guilty as Maliki is.

Dr. Philippe Douste-Blazy – French Foreign Minister from 2005 to 2007

“Unless there is a minimum space of at least 5 km2, with the necessary means, as long as the minimum requirements of the inhabitants, particularly in terms of bringing their goods and their vehicles, respecting their privacy or cancelling arrest warrants fabricated to harass them and turn them over to the Iranian regime, are not met, the transfer to the new camp will be a forced displacement, unacceptable and contrary to all conventions. I request that the UN Secretary General does not sign an agreement about that.”

Judge Michael Mukasey – 81st Attorney General of the United States

The Iraqi government is in obvious breach of its obligations, and Ambassador Kobler, who signed for the United Nations, and UNHCR and UNAMI have maintained a deafening silence. The impression is growing that UNHCR means to certify Camp Liberty as being in compliance with necessary standards so as to shift responsibility to others and to suggest that any refusal by Ashraf residents to be taken to Camp Liberty is unreasonable and that the Ashraf residents themselves are to be blamed for any bad consequences.

It is time for those like UNHCR and UNAMI and the rest of the UN bureaucracy whose responsibility it is to speak to speak and to let the world know what is happening at Camp Liberty so that there is no basis for sending Ashraf residents to a prison or a concentration camp.

Director Porter Goss – Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency

Now, I am sure that many feel that Camp Ashraf is just a symbol of some sort. Wrong, it’s a reality and it’s a manifestation of failure of the world’s leadership to do what it’s supposed to do about the values we all cherish.

Dr. Ayham Al-Samarie – Minister of Electricity of Iraq from 2003 to 2005

Setting any new deadline by the government for the expulsion of PMOI from Iraq is illegal. The residents have, regardless of their rights to stay in Iraq, agreed to transfer to third countries, and of course United Nations high commissioner for Refugee should immediately start this work in Ashraf to reaffirm the resident’s refugee status. The UN and UNHCR should in no way agree to the transfer of Ashraf residents to Liberty given there are obvious plans to treat them as prisoners and this location lacks the minimum internationally recognized standards, hence this is a forced relocation and a breach of IHL and the UN body should not engage in an illegal act.

Lord Maginnis – Member of the House of Lords

Maliki is radiating new signals each day to show he does not have the will to stand against the demands of the mullahs ruling Iran. And he cannot, I suppose he dare not ambulate his animosity towards the residents of camp Ashraf for that reason.

We need, we demand that the High Commissioner tell Maliki that the United Nations cannot tolerate any deliberate delays in carrying out the UNCHR process until camp liberty is ready and adequate. The UNHCR must insist on their international obligations to bring part of camp Ashraf under its control and start interviewing the residents to be sent to third countries. This assurance we expect to hear from the high commissioner not next week, not tomorrow, but right now today.

Director John Sano – Deputy Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service

We must ensure that the Iraqi government, absent the manipulative influence of Iran, adheres to the minimum requirements that the residents will need in their relocation, which includes the ability to bring their personal possessions, freedom from surveillance, from harassment and from the fear of arrest and detention.

This is the time for the international community to resolutely and repeatedly stand up in defense of the residents of Camp Ashraf. It’s long at hand, it’s long overdue. It is responsibility of everyone to ensure that these people who have given so much and have endured with such harsh treatments be given the opportunity finally for liberty and for justice.

Geir Haarde – Former Prime Minister of Iceland

Now the countries and international organizations that have the main responsibility to avoid a humanitarian disaster, they are listed up here, the U.S., the EU, the UN, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, but in particular, the United States all of these need to continue their work towards assuring a free and safe passage of all Ashraf residents to third countries. And of course the Iraqi government must be pressured to respect international rules for humanitarian conduct, as well as the agreements it has itself signed with respect to transfer of Ashraf residents to Camp Liberty on a temporary basis and outside of Iraq on a permanent basis. The U.S. must remove the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations. It’s an insult.

Shahriar Kia is a member of the Iranian opposition (PMOI /MEK). He is a human rights activist and political analyst on Iran and the Middle East.