All United Nations member states which support the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights ("UDHR") should absent themselves from the
General Assembly today during the speech of Iran's president.
There are many reasons why we should protest Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's
visit to the UN. Today I offer you four, two of which were suggested
by my friend David Matas, a scholar of the Holocaust. They are as
Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust. Yet, the Holocaust was the catalyst
for the UDHR, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
the Genocide Convention, the Refugee Convention, and the International
Criminal Court. Thus, by denying the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad is
denying the legitimacy of the entire human rights superstructure that
was built upon the lessons drawn from it.
Ahmadinejad calls for a member of the United Nations, Israel, to be
wiped off the map. The anti-Semitism of the Nazis led to World War II
and the killing of sixty two million people. The anti-Semitism of the
Iranian regime threatens the world order today.
His regime is engaged in nuclearization and weaponization of its
developing nuclear capacity in violation of international atomic
energy safeguards. Nuclear weapons capacity in a state which rejects
the international legal order poses a new and grave threat to all
members of the human family.
Ahmadinejad's regime conducted an election rife with ballot stuffing
in June and then violently suppressed its political opposition. Part
of the violence was the attack on Camp Ashraf on July 28, home of the
People's Mujahadeen of Iran (MEK/PMOI), killing eleven, injuring
hundreds and arbitrarily detaining thirty six. The attack was by
Iraqi forces, but it was done on the request of Iran's regime.
What is the rest of the world going to do?
The UN General Assembly should again pass a resolution condemning
Iran's regime for its gross human rights violations. It should mention
the suppression of the MEK/PMOI at Ashraf through the instrument of
The United States should guarantee protection of Camp Ashraf. The
Multi-National Forces in Iraq declared the residents of Ashraf to be
protected persons under the Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War.
Iraq, at the bidding of Iran, has ceased to offer protection. The US
has a continuing obligation under international law to protect the
The UN Security Council should refer the situation in Iran to the
International Criminal Court for incitement to genocide and crimes
As brutal as the attack of July 28 on Camp Ashraf was, its unarmed
residents face the threat of even worse. The United Nations
Assistance Mission in Iraq ("UNAMI") should establish a permanent
observer human rights post in the Camp to discourage this threat.
The government of Iraq should release the 36 arbitrarily detained
refugees. Their release has already been demanded by two Iraqi court
The Iraqi government, under prodding from Tehran, has threatened to
relocate the residents of Ashraf to an uninhabitable desert in the
West of Iraq. A forced relocation would violate international
Iran is vitally important to regional peace and world stability. Those
who judge that there are only two policy options available—continued
appeasement of the regime in Tehran or bombing strikes against
presumed nuclear weapon development sites—are gravely mistaken. All
responsible governments must begin working with all democratic
opposition groups in Iran.
Among them is the MEK/PMOI. However, because politics and commercial
interests have trumped fundamental legal principles and human rights,
it is still listed as a terrorist organization in both the US and
Canada. The 27 European Union countries de-listed it early this year,
following decisions by seven European courts unanimously holding that
it could not be considered a terrorist group.
The MEK/PMOI today seeks for Iranians the rule of law, separation of
religion and government, a nuclear-free Iran, equal rights for women
and all religious and ethnocultural minorities, normalized relations
with all governments and representative democracy for Iranians.
The government in Tehran through its Revolutionary Guards has long
sought to destabilize the entire Middle East and well beyond. The
world's best hope in Iran is Mrs. Maryam Rajavi and her National
Council of Resistance in Iran (“NCRI”), in which the PMOI/MEK is the
largest component. Let Iranian voters choose their government in a
About 3400 MEK/PMOI supporters live in Ashraf. Some of them fled from
Tehran in 1981, and others have lived in Iraq since the mid-1980s as
refugees. Among them are former political prisoners as well as leaders
of student movements in Iran. There is considerable support for the
MEK/PMOI and Ashraf among those many Iraqis who want their country to
be independent from Tehran.
The ongoing designation of the MEK/PMOI as a terrorist group in the US
and Canada is still being used as a pretext to maintain pressure on
Ashraf residents and justify their expulsion to Iran, where it is a
capital offence to support the MEK/PMOI.
The MEK/PMOI and its supporters in Ashraf have worked for peace and
reconciliation between the Shiite and Sunni communities in Iraq. They
represent the aspirations of the Iranian people for a democratic
society of peace and the rule of law.
The residents of Ashraf continue to be protected persons under
international law, pursuant to the Fourth Geneva Convention. If the
government of Iraq is unwilling to abide by the convention, the United
States under the established principles of international law is
obliged to resume primary responsibility for their security.
Human dignity is ultimately indivisible in the world today. The
Archbishop of Canterbury in the UK recently spoke out in Asia for the
residents of Ashraf, and, in particular, the 36 who remain in custody.
If other political and religious leaders were to follow suit,
obtaining a release of the 36 detainees would become a possibility.
And such would end the hunger strikes taking place in various
capitals, without any loss of life.
Let us at this moment pay homage to the memory of the eleven Mojahedin
in Ashraf who gave their lives for Iranian freedom. Let us also honour
the 36 residents held hostage in Iraq who have been on hunger strikes
for 55 days as well as those supporting them in Washington, Ottawa,
London, Stockholm, The Hague and elsewhere. They are of course unable
to join us. A moment of applause for them all please.