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ASHRAF MONITOR

Issue 51

News about the Humanitarian Crisis for Camp Ashraf Residents

Thursday, January 14, 2010

 

In this Issue:

 


"Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs.”

Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention

 

“In no circumstances shall a protected person be transferred to a country where he or she may have reason to fear persecution for his or her political opinions or religious beliefs.”

Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention

 

PMOI's place on the terrorist watch list

People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran should be cleared

The Washington Times (EDITORIAL)

January 12, 2010
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit hears the case of People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran v. United States Department of State. The State Department says the PMOI is a terrorist organization. The PMOI says the United States is falling for Iranian propaganda.

The PMOI was founded in 1963 as a violent anti-Shah movement. It supported the revolution that brought the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power, who returned the favor by executing the group's leaders. Many members sought refuge in Iraq, and for years Saddam Hussein gave them safe haven to conduct anti-Iranian terror attacks.

The group renounced violence in 2001, and it has not engaged in terrorism since. A U.S. Intelligence Community Terrorist Threat Assessment acknowledged that there "has not been a confirmed terrorist attack by [the PMOI] since the organization surrendered to Coalition forces in 2003."

The PMOI has assisted the United States in Iraq by warning Coalition troops against planned attacks by Iraqi insurgents. The PMOI also has provided critical information on Iran's secret nuclear program, such as the first reports of hidden facilities at Qom and Natanz. These revelations were at first viewed skeptically, given the flawed information that Iraqi emigre groups provided about Saddam Hussein's program to develop weapons of mass destruction. But Frank Pabian, a senior adviser on nuclear nonproliferation at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, stated that the PMOI is "right 90 percent of the time."

Removing the PMOI from the list of foreign terrorist organizations is one of the few issues on which both parties in Congress agree. No doubt, the same type of bureaucratic inertia is at work on this matter as that which kept South African President Nelson Mandela on a terrorist watch list until 2008...

For the past year, the Obama administration has been trying to reach out to the regime in Tehran and been brusquely rebuffed. It is a good time to send the Islamic regime a new signal. Taking the PMOI off the terror list acknowledges that the group has put violence behind them, creates a credible incentive for other terror groups that might desire to reform their ways, and removes a tool from the hands of a theocratic regime bent on terrorizing its own people...  Read More

 

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End blacklisting of Iranian patriots
People's Mujahedin "terrorist" designation was always about politics
By Struan Stevenson
The Washington Times

January 12, 2010

Back in 1997, the United States and its Western allies thought they saw an opportunity for their first meaningful dialogue with Iran since the 1979 revolution. In the newly elected president, Mohammad Khatami, they saw someone whom they could deal with, a man who could bring about change from within the established system.

But the mullahs who ruled in Tehran had a price - the West had to blacklist the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) by adding it to the list of "terrorist" organizations. It seemed like a small price to pay in the world of realpolitik.

Anyway, that was then - and this is now.

Never mind that the "moderate" Iranian government never lived up to that billing, or that the mullahs went ahead with their nuclear ambitions laughing all the way to the acquisition of fissionable material, or that the "moderate" Mr. Khatami gave way to the bellicose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The major fact is that big changes are taking place in Iran - changes that the hard liners in Tehran no longer are able to stop and that the Obama administration had better wake up to...

Indeed, through its extensive network and popular support inside Iran, the PMOI has been an important asset by revealing Tehran's clandestine nuclear weapons program over the years; revelations which nuclear experts believe has been correct 90 percent of the time.

Scores of European diplomats engaged in negotiations with Tehran have acknowledged that Iranian officials have urged a crackdown on the PMOI in negotiations with Western governments over the nuclear program and other issues.

The PMOI is more than a thorn on the side of the clerical regime and that's why the mullahs prevailed on their friends in Baghdad to try to wipe out Camp Ashraf in July - but that effort failed.
 

The blacklisting of Tehran's opponents has been an unwarranted gift to the mullah's regime. It has provided Tehran with not only an excuse to further suppress its opponents at home but also to violate the most rudimentary human rights of millions of Iranians throughout the nation. Indeed, anyone even charged with sympathizing with the PMOI is view as a Mohareb, or some one who wages war of God and must be punished by death.

So what is the point of doing Tehran's biding against its opposition particularly when things are so fluid in Iran?

This is intervening in Iran's internal affairs in favor of the mullahs - and now realpolitik dictates this has to be changed.

Struan Stevenson is a member of the European Parliament and president of the EP's Delegation for Relations with Iraq. He is also the chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Inter-Group in the European Parliament...  Read More

 

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President Obama at the Crossroads: Freeing or Tying Up Iran's Opposition
The Huffington Post

December 14, 2009
By Allan Gerson, Lawyer and former counsel to the US Delegation to the United Nations

It is 2010 and welcome to a new Iran. What a difference a year makes! Or does it?

Last year, on the eve of President Obama's inauguration, the key-note of Mr. Obama's foreign policy had already been set. "Engagement" was in. Bush's "saber rattling" was out. The Iranian regime - like it or not- was deemed the new "super power of the region". It was time to cut a deal with Tehran.

Now, the new regional "superpower" seems to be tottering. For some it is on a slippery downhill slope. For other Iran watchers, the regime seems too ruthless to give hope to revolution or reform...

The Iranian people need internal organization and leadership to fend off the regime's brutal repression. But, inexplicably, the Administration insists on tying the hands of Iran's largest opposition movement (the Mujahedin-e Khalq, PMOI/MEK) by keeping it on the US terrorist entity list, thus stigmatizing the organization and criminalizing support for its operations.

In 1997, as a "goodwill gesture" to Iran's new ostensibly more democratic leader, Mohammad Khatami, President Clinton agreed to accommodate Iran's desire to constrain the MEK by labeling it a "terrorist organization." The mullahs reaped the dividends, using the terrorist label to clamp down on opposition figures.

After the Ashura protests, the regime claimed that the protests were organized by "terrorist" MEK members, acknowledging the role that MEK plays in the events unfolding in Iran. But, ironically, today the MEK is constrained because the State Department refuses to de-designate the MEK as a terrorist entity.

Yesterday, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard argument challenging the State Department's assertion that it can designate at will who is and is not a terrorist entity by merely asserting that an organization has "capacity and intent". Clearly, the MEK is disarmed and has renounced any allegiance to terrorism. Still the State Department claims intent exists, even while it maintains that the reasons for its belief are Confidential and non-accessible to the MEK or its supporters. Only the Court can look at the record. The judges will soon have to decide whether such reliance on the skirt of Confidentiality comports with judicial fairness. Assuming it does, the Court will have to decide whether the "Confidential" reasons were in fact reasonable. The highest court in the UK recently ruled that its own examination of confidential materials (presumably similar to what the US government has produced) revealed that there was not a shred of evidence to support neither the MEK's capacity (whatever that means) nor intent to resort to terrorism.

Aside from purely narrow legal considerations, as a practical matter de-designation of the MEK as a terrorist entity will only enhance Washington's desired outcome of a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear crisis. It would strengthen America's hand in bringing a faltering regime to the negotiating table by letting Tehran know in no uncertain terms that we have taken off the kid-gloves.

Will President Obama demonstrate courage and political will? Or, will he be remembered by Iranians for his refusal to go beyond faint praise of the protestors to unshackle the legally dubious constraints imposed on Iran's main opposition group? The future of Iran may well hang in the balance... Read More

 

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Iran: Arrest of PMOI supporters and families of Camp Ashraf residents
NCRI Press Release

January 8, 2010
NCRI - Iranian regime has arrested a number of supporters of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and families of Camp Ashraf residents subjecting them to pressures.

Ali Mehrnia, 70, Parviz Varmazyari, 54, Majid Rezaii, Alireza Nabavi and Ali Massoumi have been arrested since the day of Ashura (December 27, 2009). They all have children or relatives in Camp Ashraf.

Varmazyari and Rezaii both were political prisoners in the 1980's. Mr. Nabavi's wife, Aatefeh, and five other members of their family, Tayebeh, Fatemeh, Seyed Zohour, Seyed Zia and Seyed Jalal Nabavi were all political prisoners.

Asghar Mahmoudian, another political prisoner of 1980's was arrested along with his wife Kefayat Malek-Mohammadi on the midnight of December 31, 2009.

Mr. Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi, 63, a bazaar merchant, was arrested on November 30. Some of his relatives reside in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The authorities of the clerical regime refuse to give any information about his whereabouts and his state to his family. His sister, Ms. Kobra Amirkhizi, 56, who has been sentenced to five years imprisonment, has lost the sight of one of her eyes under torture and lack of medical attention.

The Iranian Resistance calls on the United Nations Secretary General, UN Security Council, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other human rights organizations to condemn arrests and torture in prisons in Iran and take urgent measures for the release of detainees who are currently kept under inhuman conditions... Read More
 

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End appeasement of Iran's regime
Guardian.co.uk

January 6, 2010
By Brian Binley, a Conservative MP for Northampton South

Tehran plays a destructive role in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Britain's softly-softly approach isn't working
As the news of the first British casualty in Afghanistan in 2010 broke this week, fingers continued to point conclusively towards Tehran as being the financial and tactical backbone behind the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A Tehran-backed Taliban in 2009 inflicted the bloodiest year for British troops since the Falklands, killing 108 soldiers in Afghanistan. Now, as the town of Wootton Bassett prepares for the return of another fallen British hero, one must ask why Britain is appeasing an Iranian regime that is helping to inflict such heavy losses upon our young military personnel who are risking their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Currently, while rumours persist of a prisoner swap to obtain the release of hostage Peter Moore, kidnapped more than two years ago in Iraq, the cost of a dubious policy of talking to terrorists is leading Iraq and Afghanistan further into the hands of Tehran's leadership. Unfortunately, the convenient timing of the release of Qais al-Khazali, a senior figure within the Righteous League, a militant group backed by Iran who kidnapped Moore, raises further questions regarding a prisoner swap deal.

Although the US military insists that Moore was held for part of his two and half years of captivity in Iran, the British Foreign Office and prime minister Gordon Brown continue to issue denials. So, what evidence have the US authorities seen which we have not? Or is the answer simply that the British government continues to deny the destructive role played by Tehran in Afghanistan and Iraq, because it believes that appeasing the mullahs' regime will bear fruit?

Continuing to take a blinkered view of the negative role played by Tehran in the vain hope that appeasement will bring about change is not only naive, but extremely dangerous. As we move into the next phase on the battlefield in Afghanistan, and Iraq builds up to elections later next month, Britain must adopt a much more distinctive policy towards a regime that is working hard to undermine the prospect of democracy and hamper the early withdrawal of British troops for its own political purposes...

For a number of years now, colleagues and I on the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom have worked with Iran's largest opposition group in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and its president-elect Maryam Rajavi to strengthen our policy towards Iran whilst seeking increased support for the Iranian opposition movement.

A new direction in our relations with Iran must include the imposition of a wider range of targeted sanctions that are forcibly monitored. Second, we have to change our attitude to the Iranian democratic opposition in exile and work more closely with them. We should recognise their wide-ranging connections within the democratic movement inside Iran, which has surprised the world and has sizably increased the possibility of internal regime change.

Finally, we should start sending a firm but consistent message to the mullahs' regime that we mean what we say and we should cease our policy of appeasement which has been so harmful to our national interest.

Continuing a policy of appeasement will have only one outcome, that of forcing both Afghanistan and Iraq even further towards Tehran's sphere of influence. Strong and consolidated action now will not only reduce British troop losses but will hasten their return. And that really is in Britain's interest... Read More

 

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About Humanitarian Crisis for Iranian Dissidents and their Families in Camp Ashraf

More than 3,400 members of Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin (PMOI/MEK) and their families, among them nearly 1,000 Muslim women, reside in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.  The PMOI was the source of ground breaking revelation in the United States in 2002 about Iran’s two until-then secret nuclear sites at Natanz and Arak.

 

On July 28-29, 2009, Iraqi forces ordered directly by Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki acting at the behest of Iran rulers, carried out a violent, unprovoked raid on Camp Ashraf, killing 11 residents, wounding 500, and abducting 36.

 

The brutal raid on Ashraf was a blatant violation of the solemn commitment Iraq had given to the United States that it would provide "humane treatment of the Camp Ashraf residents in accordance with Iraq’s Constitution, laws, and international obligations."

The assault took place while U.S. service members on the scene were observing the situation closely. Regrettably they took no action to prevent the premeditated violence despite direct appeals by Ashraf residents at the outset and during the attack.

 

International Humanitarian Law Obligate U.S. to Provide Continued Protection for Camp Ashraf Residents in Iraq
On July 2, 2004, the  United States formally recognized members of the PMOI in Camp Ashraf as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention. 

 

Both the U.S. and Iraq are parties to all four 1949 Geneva Conventions.

Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifies that:

“Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs […]”.

Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifies that:

“In no circumstances shall a protected person be transferred to a country where he or she may have reason to fear persecution for his or her political opinions or religious beliefs.“

 

United States had legal and moral obligations and responsibilities under international humanitarian law to protect these Iranian exiles.
 

 

About the U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents:

The U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR) was established in December of 2003 by families and relatives of residents of Camp Ashraf. The purpose of the Committee is to ensure the safety and security of those Iranians and others living in Camp Ashraf. The Committee will defend the proposition that the protections of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as of other treaties and customary international law, must be applied to the Iranians in Iraq. For more information please visit: www.usccar.org

 

About Ashraf Monitor

Ashraf Monitor newsletter is a compilation of  news and commentaries about the developing humanitarian crisis for nearly 3,500 members of Iran's main opposition, the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in Camp Ashraf, Iraq.  Ashraf Monitor is compiled and distributed by the US Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR).

 


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