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Ashraf Monitor, Issue 21

February 10, 2009

Relatives prevented from entering Camp Ashraf to visit loved ones
NCRI Press Release

February 5, 2009
Following the removal of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran from the EU’s terrorist list and an end to seven years of investment by the religious fascism ruling Iran in this regard, the mullahs are carrying out new plots against the PMOI and in particular the residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq. In the midst of the blow it has suffered, the regime thinks that it can target Ashraf in order to compensate this great blow and return to the previous balance of power which is now unattainable.

One of the inhumane methods that the regime employs is putting pressure on relatives of Ashraf residents. On the one hand it arrests these relatives in Iran and on the other hand it puts pressure on the Iraqi government to prevent their entry to Camp Ashraf.

Iraqi forces stationed at the gates of Camp Ashraf on 3 February 2009 prevented the entry of four relatives who were trying to see their loved one in Ashraf. The four relatives had entered Iraq legally with valid passports and visas, and there was no cause for them being prevented entry into Ashraf. Over the past six years the relatives of Ashraf residents had come from Iran and other countries and visited their loved ones in Ashraf without hindrance...

Preventing relatives from visiting their loved ones is a clear and serious breach of the International Declaration of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and international customs.

The Iranian Resistance urges the Iraqi government to immediately halt any actions aimed at preventing or imposing conditions on visits to Ashraf by relatives of its residents. It should not allow this inhumane treatment, which is desired by the Iranian regime, to take place in the name of the Iraqi government...  Read More



Iran: Human rights in the spotlight on the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution
Amnesty International

February 08, 2009
10 February 2009 marks the 30 year anniversary of the change in government in Iran that led to the creation of the Islamic Republic. Amnesty International is marking the date by raising its concerns over a range of human rights violations that have persisted over the past 30 years.

Previous governments appointed by the former Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi were widely regarded as corrupt and responsible for egregious human rights violations. The Islamic Republic of Iran was created following a nationwide referendum on 1 April 1979. Another referendum, in December 1979, approved the constitution and confirmed Ayatollah Khomeini as Supreme Leader.

Despite promises made by Ayatollah Khomeini that all Iranians would be free, the past 30 years has been characterized by persistent human rights violations. The vast scope and scale of those violations of the early years of the Islamic Republic did decline somewhat with time...

Impunity, arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill-treatment, as well as the use of the death penalty remain prevalent. Some sectors of society – including ethnic minorities – continue to face widespread discrimination, while the situation for other groups – notably some religious minorities – has significantly worsened. Those seen as dissenting from stated or unstated official policies face severe restrictions on their rights to freedom of belief, expression, association and assembly. Women continue to face discrimination - both in law and practice. Impunity for human rights abuses is widespread... Read More



U.S. says Iran still supporting Iraq militants

February 09, 2009
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iranians are still supporting Shi'ite militants in Iraq with weapons and training, despite a reduction in violence in Iraq, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad said in a television interview on Monday.

Ryan Crocker, who departs later this month after two years as the U.S. envoy in Iraq, said talks he had held with Iranian diplomats to discuss Iraq's security had been fruitless.

"There is also what I would call a terrorist element from some Shia extremists and we believe that they are supported still by elements within Iran," Crocker told the Arabic al-Arabiya television station.

"We have seen a lot of evidence: rockets that are fired on us and on the Iraqis that are made in Iran as recently as 2008, explosively formed projectiles that are produced as a result of Iranian training, and both we and the Iraqis have captured militants who later say they were trained in Iran," he said.

"So the evidence is clearly there, I don't think that's in question. The question is what decisions the Iranians are going to make about their future relationship with Iraq."... Read More



Iraq far from peace and wracked by sectarianism: Allawi
Agence France Presse

February 10, 2009
BAGHDAD (AFP) — Former prime minister Iyad Allawi told AFP on Monday Western nations should not delude themselves that Iraq is on the brink of peace, warning them a "fireball" could engulf planned general elections.

Allawi, who was hand-picked by Washington as Iraq's first post-US invasion leader, said in an interview that the country remains wracked by sectarianism, despite recent polls which saw religious parties routed at the ballot box.

The 64-year-old politician said the January 31 provincial election, hailed as a symbol of progress and improving stability by America and other leading states, was nevertheless flawed as millions of people were excluded from the process...

"Unfortunately, the secular forces are not supported by anybody, not by governments, including the governments of the United States, Western Europe or the moderate Arab and Islamic countries," he said.

"If this (a sectarian Iraq) emerges it will definitely cause more problems in the region and in the world."

The success of Maliki's allies in the provincial polls nine days ago was seen as a triumph for secular politics, but Allawi said the results masked deeper problems with Iraq's fledgling democracy.

"Those who have been advocating sectarianism for the past six years are (now) talking a different language, that of non-sectarian Iraq," Allawi said.

"This can either be for one or two reasons -- either the sectarian people have changed their mind... or they want to change their colour to appeal to the people," he said, referring to the parties' desire to retain control in the provinces, despite their widely accepted failure to deliver basic services, such as water and electricity for ordinary Iraqis.

"I think by and large the Iraqis are fed up with the sectarianism because they saw only blood, stagnation of the economy and more unemployment," Allawi added.

The former premier also pointed the finger at Iran. "They have been supporting the sectarian forces in Iraq -- most of the sectarian forces grew up in Iran. We are still far away from a stable environment, so we expect that regional countries will continue to interfere... to try to fill the vacuum." ... Read More



EU Does the Right Thing

Will U.S. Follow Suit and Take PMOI Off the Terror Blacklist?
Alireza Jafarzadeh

February 5, 2009
Bowing to the definitive rulings of seven European high courts and finally adhering to Europe’s long-held claim to the rule of law, on Monday January 26, 2009, the 27-member European Union removed Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), from its terror blacklist. The EU decision sent shockwaves through Tehran’s leadership, which had invested much of its diplomatic and economic leverage over the past seven years in preventing the de-listing of the PMOI. It marked a timely and significant EU policy-correction toward the ayatollahs’ regime. And most importantly, it can serve as an impetus for the ongoing Iran policy review within President Obama’s administration.

In 2002, in continuation of its ill-advised policy of “constructive engagement,” the European Union succumbed to Tehran’s main demand for political suppression of the PMOI and blacklisted the group. It was a futile bid to mollify the ayatollahs, reflective of the EU’s insatiable appetite for lucrative trade with Tehran. But the EU did much harm to the international campaign against terrorism and extremism when it turned the terror blacklist into a political plaything...

The ayatollahs’ regime is caught up in political and economic turmoil which, in anticipation of its upcoming presidential elections, will only get worse. The latest domestic crackdown, widespread student protests, and escalating executions–many in public–all point to a regime in a downward spiral. In these circumstances, lifting the terrorist designation from a movement with proven organizational prowess and a vast support network inside the country poses an existential threat to the regime. Hence their frantic reaction to the EU’s decision.

And here lies what could be the key component of a new Iran policy. Now that it has become common knowledge that the PMOI’s terror designation, both in Europe and the U.S., was but a failed political ploy to cajole the ayatollahs into “good behavior,” it is time for Washington to also lift this unjust designation. Nothing would more signify genuine change in the U.S.-Iran policy.... Read More

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