As the wave of protests spreads throughout the Middle East, American influence in the region appears to be at an all time low. Perhaps the most striking example lies in Iraq, which now appears to be sliding into a repressive regime backed by Iran. This, after billions of American dollars and thousands of American lives were invested with the supposed intention of bringing a new era of stability and democracy. And what of the 3,200 Iranian refugees who are now trapped in the Iraqi prison dubbed “Camp Liberty”, after being promised protection by the U.S.? Is this the legacy the United States wanted to leave in Iraq?
Since the U.S. withdrawal, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s has moved to consolidate power leave little doubt of his intentions to dominate the political scene, pushing out Sunni and Kurdish participants from government. In fact, Maliki waited less than one day after the withdrawal of U.S. troops to put out an arrest warrant for vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi, sending troops and tanks led by Maliki’s son to surrounded Hashemi’s house. Earlier this month, Hashemi was sentenced to death in absentia in a trial many labeled as a sham. Maliki has also turned its back on requests by the U.S. to stop supply routes from Iran to Syria using Iraqi airspace, effectively enabling the Assad regime to survive. Maliki’s brutality is on par with those of Iran and Syria, as has been documented in numerous allegations of torture and murder in government prisons. Maliki also commands his own unit of highly trained Special Forces which have been dubbed “Fedayeen al-Maliki” by Iraqis.
As far as the U.S. is concerned, the United States still has a lot of leverage over the Iraqi government. It cannot forsake the promises it. made to those it left behind? The United States is tied in with the fate of 3,200 Iranian refugees who previously resided in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. U.S. forces signed an agreement with members of the camp in 2003, and promised them status as protected persons under the 4th Geneva Convention. A promise which was broken repeatedly when the United States withdrew from the camp and delivered it to Iraqi forces, who subsequently killed 49 residents in two attacks in 2009 and 2011.
Not only has the United States failed to uphold its promise of security to the residents of the camp, but it has enabled Iraq’s continual suppression by calling for residents to relocate to the notorious “Camp Liberty”. This facility has been described as a prison, with the intention to make life miserable for resident, effectively at the mercy of Baghdad and Tehran. A report published by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, said the living conditions in Liberty blatantly violate international laws and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Testifying before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, former senior State Department official Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr. noted;
“My conclusion is that the US would be well served by a serious re-look at the facts on the ground in Iraq. I am concerned that Iran’s agenda, reflected in Iraqi government actions, is seriously at odds with the United Nations’ goal of conducting “refugee status determination” with each of the Iranian exiles and arranging for third countries to accept them as refugees.”
As the evidence mounts, it has become all too clear what will happen to these Iranian dissidents if the U.S. turns its back on the refugees in liberty. Not only does the United States have a moral obligation to these refugees, but also an international legal obligation which continues to this day. It is time or the United States to act to ensure the lives of those living in Camp Liberty, and to stand for justice in Iraq. The first step in this direction is to urge the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to declare Liberty a refugee camp to ensure that the residents are accorded fundamental rights and protections consistent with refugee and international law.
- Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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Since the start of the 2012 calendar year, the Iranian regime has begun a barbaric campaign of brutality against its own population. For a short period in early 2012 the regime was executing 1 prisoner every 4 hours. At least 100 prisoners were hanged in three weeks (from October 22 to November 14, 2012), many in public places to terrorize the public. Several thousand on are death row, according to judiciary officials.
Ironically, the record pace of executions undertaken by the regime lays bare its desperation in the face of rising domestic discontent, growing international isolation, a faltering economy and escalating factional feuding.
The regime has used an assortment of charges against such prisoners, in order to try to legitimize the mass killings. The charges against each individual range from terrorism, espionage, drug trafficking, enmity with God, rape, and so on. Each of the prisoners has gone through a judicial system that offers no fairness, transparency, or due process. As a result, differentiating between ordinary criminals (if there are any at all) and opponents of the regime can be very difficult. Many prisoners face trumped up charges despite committing purely political offenses.
The mullahs have also employed various tactics to carry out domestic crackdown. Prisoners who require medical attention in order to survive, are purposefully neglected, and therefore die without being added to the list of formally executed individuals. This tactic masks the true intent of the regime to the outside world, but ensures that the terror will be felt at home. Hassan Nahid and Mohsen Dokmechi are two examples of political prisoners who died due to the regime’s deliberate medical negligence.
Other prisoners have been tortured to death while in custody, including Sattar Beheshti, the 35-year-old dissident blogger, and Jamil Soveidi, a 45-year-old factory worker from the southwestern city of Ahwaz,
Underlying these various acts of brutality is the implementation of a conscious policy designed to instill terror in the hearts and minds of Iranians. On the one hand, the regime faces ever growing isolation due to its nuclear program. On the other, the Arab Spring has engulfed the region in popular uprising and the instability in Syria is hitting too close to home for the Iranian Regime’s comfort.
The mullahs know all too well that its days are numbered. Since the protests in 2009, the regime understands the potential within the population for an explosive uprising and fears that at any moment a spark could set off another round of protests. There’s no doubt that it will resort to the most barbaric forms of repression in order to prolong its grip on power. However, despite the bloodbath, the regime is clearly on its last limb and will not likely be able to continue to drown its problems in the blood of its citizens.
What remains is a show of resolve by the international community to hold the mullahs to account for their murderous ways and empower the Iranian people in their quest for freedom, instead of continuing to placate the murderous gang in power.
- Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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After World War II, the United Nations was created in order to promote world peace, and divert war amongst rival nations through diplomatic negotiations. With the UN came the UNHCR, its refugee agency which made an effort to ensure that exiled people would not be mistreated. However, more than 60 years after the creation of the UN, it is clear that sub-humanitarian standards are still being exercised to many refugees around the world.
In 2003, thousands of Iranian expatriates living in Iraq, politically active against the Iranian regime, were given ‘protected persons’ status by the United States government. This meant that the United States took on the responsibility of protecting these dissidents from any foreign attacker.
Regardless of their obligations, the US failed to protect these exiles when they were attacked by the Iraqi government, at the behest of the mullah’s, in 2009 and 2011. The two aforementioned attacks resulted in 49 residents killed, and scores more injured.
In February of this year, the residents of Ashraf relocation from their home of 26 years to Camp Liberty, after being promised an expedited resettlement to third countries. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the United Nations and the Iraqi government, and endorsed by the United States, in order to ensure the residents a humanitarian standard of living at Camp Liberty, a former U.S. military base near Baghdad International Airport.
Unfortunately, the United Nations has failed to live up to its obligations just as the United States has in previous years.
Upon arrival at Camp Liberty, the residents were met with living standards equivalent to a prison. The basic humanitarian needs that were promised to them by the MoU had, most certainly, not been fulfilled. Their access to clean water, electricity, and basic tools to improve living conditions was greatly restricted. The average resident of Camp Liberty lost 20 lbs due to the limitations placed upon them. Despite international outcry from those who had friends and family in Camp Liberty, as well as many former US officials, the UN continued to turn a blind eye to the promises they had made.
The United Nations, which so boldly advocates peace and diplomacy, has continued to allow the suppression of the residents in Liberty. In an attempt to smooth the relocation of the residents and ensure their rights, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon appointed Ambassador Martin Kobler to oversee this crucial issue. However, as time went on, it became apparent that rather being an objective mediator between the residents of Liberty and the Iraqi government, that he had the best interests of the Iraqi and Iranian governments in mind. By belittling the outcries of residents, Ambassador Kobler has attempted to direct all attention away from the sub-humanitarian standard of living that has been forced upon the residents.
There have been multiple accounts in which Ambassador Kobler has been accused of conspiring with the regime in Iran. Earlier this year, Ambassador Kobler took a one week trip to Iran, in which he engaged in talks with the regime. Later, this same year, he encouraged a plan which would send the residents of Ashraf and Liberty to a hotel in Baghdad, which later was found out to be leased by the Iranian regime.
Since Liberty is not connected to Baghdad’s water network or the city’s power grid, the residents have to use generators, which are worn-out, inefficient and break down regularly. They are paying $23,000 for fuel every day, since Iraq does not allow them to buy fuel in Iraq, forcing them instead to import from Kuwait.
In addition, the Iraqi government has not permitted the residents to transfer much of their property in Ashraf to Liberty and has obstructed attempts to sell what remains at Ashraf with the intention of pilfering hundreds of millions of dollars worth of vehicles, machinery and other assets at Ashraf.
As conditions in Camp Liberty worsen by day, residents of the camp and their family members can only await what seems to be a daunting fate. The United Nations must do more to ensure the safety and security of the residents. It must live up to its long unfulfilled obligations, and thus prevent a widespread massacre if 3,300 innocent men, women, and children.
- Tuesday, November 20, 2012
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Over 30 prisoners have been executed by the Iranian regime in last 10 days. We want you to join us to stop this barbaric acts now.
The Campaign to Stop Human Rights violations in Iran is an ongoing campaign, called by the Iranian American Communities-USA.
U.S. Foundation for Liberty is proud to support the Iranian diaspora’s activities, and call all other organizations to join them to expose Iran’s rights violations.
- Tuesday, November 20, 2012
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The following is the last blog post of Iranian activist Sattar Behesthi. Beheshti was detained because of his activism, and died under torture during his interrogation.
Translated by: Freedom Messenger
They threaten us, and say that we should not give information otherwise they’ll shut our mouths.
It’s been a while now that the Iranian regime has put a lot of pressure against activists and other independent Iranians to maintain their opinions and thoughts to themselves.
Threats from detention and torture to public executions in order to scare the people!
The people on the frontline is an everyday problem for the Iranian regime where public beating and threats has become a regular matter in our society.
Just this past day day, they threatened me that my mother should prepare herself to wear black clothes indicating my killing, or that if I didn’t close my big mouth; they would make sure it would always stay opened for prayers.
If I write anything I hear and see, they will deal with me in any way that they want until I shut up otherwise they would make sure that I would be silenced without leaving any marks and signs for anyone to know what happened to me! “You will be in no one’s memory and you are a traitor to this nation!”
My intentions are not against my nation thus I’m not a traitor, I love my people, you are the real traitors in our country who does this to our people!
Day and night they threaten us with phone calls and letters, I can’t be be silenced with every expression because I’m an Iranian! I cannot be silenced against this suffering and tragedy!
I’d say you people are doing a terrific job with this bullshit leading our country towards destruction!
There will never be a moment in my life where I shall be silenced even if this leads to my death. No matter where I will be in this world, your threats to kill me is not important to me. “Gentlemen” please close your mouth and stop this injustice so that we don’t have to expose it.
This regime is hypocritically concerned about the freedom of expression in Palestine, Bahrain and many other countries, but does this tell you the whole story regarding these professional actors of and their reasons, how can the Iranian regime record live in these nations and spread their state owned media propaganda to our nation? Not to mention its one sided reporting containing indoctrinated news which forces the Iranian people to eat their propaganda until you puke!
Yet they are silent when it comes to our human rights in our own nation…
Every day we face, imprisonment, torture and group executions which are never officially mentioned, the political prisoners have the worst conditions without even the presence of lawyers. They don’t even let families get a hold of some information regarding their loved ones.
They don’t allow the families to be interview from independent sources nor inform anyone about their children’s presence and conditions.
The threats don’t even stop there; they can easily arrest you and your entire family leaving their destiny in the hands of brutal henchmen. They say that they will arrest the women and girls of the families and their motto is: “We will detain, we will torture, you shall be silenced, and you shall not give information!”
Dear “Gentlemen”; what kind of law says this?! What lawful nation performs these acts?
Right now, you are doing this to the Iranian people. Do these acts occur in other countries ruled by dictators as well?
Believe me, not even in the worst dictatrorships do they enforce these kinds of laws.
Even if this is applied in nations with almost the same brutality, it would not be in the name of God and religion.
Why do they must arrest us, torture us, put us to death and silence our families?!
Why won’t you step down from these tyrannical acts. To see and taste what happens to other countries that went through this,
It’s time for you to realize that this kind of system you have will not even be found in the jungle!
Oh yes, let me spread my expression and information to other countries so that they can see what kind of democracy our people have here. How is that your television network has reporters all over the world, reporting and publishing whatever you want but other nations and their reports can not do the same in our nation?
In order for your regime to survive maybe a couple of more days, you think it’s worth all the killings and executions?
But I have a suggestion, if you’re afraid of information, resign this government, stop this injustice, do not arrest, do not torture, do not slaughter our people, otherwise this injustice will be brought upon yourselves.
Bringing attention to the status of any individual under suppression and oppression is a duty for all Iranians in this society! Anyone who fails or minimizes his obligation is first of all betraying his own conscience.
Anyone who becomes the voice of our dissagrement against this regime will step by step be able to silence this injustice. Even if this dissagrement is on the corners of our country or even between our own family members.
So lets embrace these threats. We are no longer afraid, fear is no longer within us. Flogging and torture will not stop us from spreading information.
If your motto is: “We will detain, we will torture, you shall be silenced, and you shall not give information!” then don’t spread this information.
But our motto is: We have taken a stand in the face of oppression, our freedom is either obtained by the end of our struggle or the end of your injustice!
Long live Iran and Iranians, let my life be sacrificed for Iran.
Author: Sattar Beheshti
- Friday, November 9, 2012
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Facing growing dissent and protests within Iran, the regime has resorted to a bloody campaign of executions and repression to incite fear in the population. Iran is second only to China in the number of executions, and leads the world in executions per capita. Many of these executions are carried out in public, so as to create a climate of terror and deter popular protests against the regime.
The case of Iranian blogger, Sattar Beheshti is particularly shocking, as he was arrested for his online activism, and died 4 days while under severe torture. Sattar Beheshti’s story is but one of many involving Iranians who seek freedom and are killed at the hands of the regime.
Many political prisoners in Iran are sentenced to death in show trials which lack due process or transparency. Some activists are arrested and charged with drug trafficking or other crimes which carry automatic death sentences, while avoiding the political nature of their case. As a result of the regimes censorship it is often impossible to verify the exact number of executions in Iran, and many fear the real numbers are much higher than those reported. The following is just a small sample of the regimes terror against the people of Iran:
- Since January 2012, some 400 people have been executed in Iran;
- During one week in May 2012 Iran executed 57 prisoners, i.e. one every three hours;
- 4 women were stoned to death in November of 2012;
- In a three-week span from October 22nd to November 7th, 2012, thirty-eight people were execuThe Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council took a stand against Iran, stating “We have repeatedly urged Iran to halt executions,” they said. “We regret, however, that instead of heeding our calls, the Iranian authorities have stepped up the use of the death penalty.
The Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council took a stand against Iran, stating “We have repeatedly urged Iran to halt executions,” they said. “We regret, however, that instead of heeding our calls, the Iranian authorities have stepped up the use of the death penalty.”
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Ahmad Shaheed has also protest Iran’s appalling execution rate. Allegations contained in this report paint a disturbing picture of a government that seriously struggles to comply with its international and national obligations,” Shaheed told a meeting with diplomats, journalists and experts. “The concerns remain unabated — if anything, they are growing,”
As the pressure mounts on the Iranian regime, it will surely resort to even more barbaric and cruel methods of torture and execution in order to suppress dissent. It is crucial that the international community not abandon the people of Iran in their quest for freedom against such a bloodthirsty regime. The crimes of the Iranian regime must be exposed, and its victims must not be forgotten.
- Friday, November 9, 2012
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The recent trip to Tehran by a number of die-hard appeasers of the Iranian regime in the European Parliament on the heels of the hanging en masse of 10 prisoners under bogus charges has outraged human rights advocates, parliamentarians and the public at large.
In a letter to the the European Parliament Parliament President Martin Schultz, two U.S. Senators, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), wrote, “Sending a delegation to Iran for a seven-day visit sends the wrong message.”
In voicing strong opposition to this visit, they wrote that Iran’s non-compliance with UN Security Council resolutions calling for the suspension of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, its nefarious “interference” inside Syria, its support for “terrorist activities around the globe” and its “abysmal” human rights record would make any trip to Tehran “ill-advised” and undermine U.S. efforts to work with the European Parliament to present a “united front” on Iran.
Growing more vulnerable in the face of rising popular discontent, a crumbling economy, deepening factional feuding and increasing international isolation, Iranian authorities have embarked on an unprecedented execution spree to keep their fragile grip on power.
“Iran – which is second only to China in the number of executions carried out annually – is believed to have put to death at least 368 people so far this year, including 136 executions that have not been formally announced,” according to the Human Rights Advocacy Group, Amnesty International, on October 22.
In his latest report on the situation of human right in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, told the Third Committee of the U.N. General Assembly this week that the rights situation in Iran remains critical, especially as it pertains to human rights defenders, journalists, and religious and ethnic minorities.
At least 40 Iranian journalists as well as human rights defenders like Abdolfattah Soltani, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, and Mohammad Seifzadeh, have been imprisoned in Iran. In his report, Shaheed noted that at least 32 lawyers have been prosecuted in Iran since 2009, and that at least nine attorneys are currently imprisoned.
- Wednesday, October 24, 2012
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Roughly 3,200 residents of Camp Ashraf have relocated to Camp Liberty, a former U.S. military base near Baghdad International Airport. The relocation, which began in Februar,y 2012, was part of a plan initiated by the United Nations and supported by the U.S. Government.
Initially, under a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative on Iraq, Martin Kobler, and the Iraqi government’s National Security Advisor, Camp Liberty was described as a Temporary Transit Location (TTL), where the residents would quickly undergo identity verification and refugee status determination (RSD) and resettled in third countries in a matter of a few months.
Since then, the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has continued its RSD process, but at a very slow pace. To date, some 2,000 residents have been registered and about 1,100 have been interviewed, but no one has yet been resettled through the UNHCR. Only a handful of people have been notified that they have been accepted but even in their case it would be a few months before they are resettled.
Indeed, contrary to earlier assurances by the SRSG Ambassador Kobler, it will take anywhere from three to 10 years before any sizable number of the residents would be relocated in third countries.
Against this backdrop, there is increasing concern over the safety and security of the residents in Camp Liberty. While the residents are doing their best to improve the living conditions in the Camp and turn it into a habitable place, they are confronting two major problems: first, the Iraqi Government has been stepping up restrictions on entry of goods into the Camp and second, it is engaging in greater provocation to justice: the use of violence against the residents in the weeks and months ahead.
It is incumbent upon all parties concerned, particularly the UN and the U.S. to impress upon the Iraqi Government to refrain from imposing further restrictions on entry of goods and needed essentials into Camp Liberty and to end its provocative actions.
In addition, the UNHCR must be urged and given the resources to expedite the RSD process and to take a more engaged and active posture vis-à-vis this humanitarian issue. Since it has already declared the residents of Liberty as “asylum-seekers” and “people of concern,” the UNHCR must work in tandem with the international community and designate Camp Liberty as a refugee camp in order to secure the rights and liberties bestowed upon all refugees, including the right to freedom of movement and visitation by lawyers and family members.
- Wednesday, October 24, 2012
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The International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, or Itelsat, has blocked Iran’s official broadcast channels in Europe, according to a report on October 26 by the French news agency.
“Intelsat confirms that we took IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) channels off the satellite,” Alexander Horwitz, a spokesman for the Washington-based company, told AFP.
The channels that were shut down included Sahar, Jam-e-Jam, Islamic Republic of Iran News Network and al-Kowsar, said Press TV, a unit of IRIB.
The action by Itelsat follows similar measures on October 15, by one of Europe’s leading satellite providers, Eutelsat Communications, which said it stopped broadcasting the Iranian channels.
Viewers in the Middle East and Europe as well as those inside Iran who accessed the channels through the popular Hotbird satellite no longer have access to the channels, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
The ban by the two telecommunications giants was viewed by Iran observers as being inevitable given the crippling sanctions the international community has imposed on Iran, making any financial dealings with the regime illegal. The move also appears to have been prompted after Iran escalated the jamming of satellite broadcasts to censor broadcasts during recent protests over a plunge in the local currency in early October.
Over the years, Iranian authorities have tried desperately to block any satellite transmission into Iran, especially broadcasts that are critical of Tehran’s handling of the Iranian economy, its human rights record, its nuclear program and its meddling in Syria and other regional countries.
In addition to the Voice of America and BBC Persian Services, Iran has specifically targeted Iranian opposition channel, Simay-e Azadi, which is sympathetic to the main Iranian opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The channel’s broadcasts, which can also be accessed through the internet (www.iranntv.com), have proven to be extremely popular with Iranians. Its satire pieces, which mock senior Iranian officials including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have wide following inside the country.
- Saturday, October 20, 2012
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