Permit me to speak to two of many issues arising from the seventh visit of Ahmadinejad to the UN General Assembly:
Camp Ashraf and Fourth Geneva Convention
First, the ongoing inhuman treatment of unarmed residents of Ashraf in Iraq by the Tehran-influenced government of Nouri al-Maliki. Approximately 3400 MEK supporters have lived there as freedom seekers from Iran, many since the mid-1980s, under the protection of American soldiers applying the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Iraqi government under international law was required to take over the protection of all residents under the Convention when the Americans left Ashraf.
Instead, Iraqi forces attacked Ashraf in July, 2009 and again on April 8, 2011. In 2009, they murdered eleven unarmed men and wounded many others. In 2011, soldiers killed thirty-five and harmed more than three hundred and forty other residents.
Col. Gary Morsch, MD, former U.S. Battalion Surgeon at Ashraf, told a Congressional hearing in July:
"There were no findings of any terrorist activities… illegal activities, coercion of MEK members, hidden arms, or ... evidence that the MEK were not fulfilling their agreement with the US Military to fully cooperate with and support the goals of the US in Iraq..." (Residents) "had come to Ashraf to voluntarily serve with the MEK to establish a free and democratic Iran…It was with great sadness that I ... witnessed the abandonment of the residents of Camp Ashraf by the very government that ... asked me to risk my life to defend (them)....”
The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has also been woefully weak on the protection of Ashraf, when it should be maintaining a monitoring mission at the settlement, well-knowing that its mere presence would prevent further violence. On September 19, it finally acknowledged that residents are "asylum seekers" and must "benefit from basic protection of their security and well-being”. It must also ensure that unhindered access to humanitarian/medical needs is provided to all Ashraf residents suffering from injuries caused by Iraqi soldiers.
Mrs. Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, described this UNHCR statement as necessary but insufficient. She added that the U.S. must assist the UNHCR to secure the rights and protections stipulated in the statement and prevent violations by the Government of Iraq, which, if done earlier, might well have saved the lives of 47 residents killed since the American force was removed.
Delist the Mujahideen al Khalq (MEK) as terrorist organization
Second, Ahmadinejad and Hameini have successfully manipulated the American and Canadian governments on their continuing listing of the MEK as a terrorist organization. All 27 EU governments have delisted it, based on seven high court decisions in Europe that it can no longer be considered a group advocating violence.
Most lobbyists for the Tehran regime in both countries no longer even attempt to come up with arguments about whether it advocates or uses violence.
The PMOI is the most effective Iranian opposition group. The Iran Policy Committee, a U.S.-based think tank, researched the subject exhaustively and found that the PMOI was the movement most feared by Iranian officials. Designating the PMOI as terrorist had always been a top demand by the Iranian regime in its dealings with other governments.
Many bi-partisan members of the US Congress and three administrations have called for the removal of the PMOI from your terrorist list. The U. S. Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia, in a judgment issued in July, 2010, described the decision by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in refusing to remove the PMOI from the list, as lacking sufficient evidence, violating due process and unlawful. The court remanded the case to Secretary Clinton and instructed her to review her decision according to the procedures specified by the court.
Delisting the PMOI now is necessary from many standpoints. Leaving it on the list as a political lever to persuade Iran's mullahs to come to the negotiation table on issues has proven futile. The UK, Germany and France offered such an incentive in 2004 to no avail. If outsiders cannot effect change in Iran, let's leave it to Iranians to complete the democratic change they began across the country in June of 2009. At least, let's not be a continuing impediment to change. De-proscribe the PMOI now.