• Support a Democratic, Secular, Republic and Non-Nuclear Iran

RIDGE: The friends left in the shadow of war


  • RIDGE: The friends left in the shadow of war

    America has an obligation to save its friends in Iran

    Washington Times – July 17, 2013: The Iranian regime’s war against the United States — and it is very much a war — has largely been fought by proxies for more than two decades. The U.S. government considers Iran the world’s No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism.

    Beginning just after the Iranian revolution in 1979, the regime began funding and directing terrorist groups such as Hezbollah to attack Americans, our interests and our allies. It has used SyriaIraq and Lebanon, among other places, as recruitment markets and alternative battlegrounds in an attempt to weaken the United States and indirectly bleed out American resolve and resources.

    Thousands have died, including hundreds of our Marines in Lebanon and troops in Iraq and AfghanistanIran continues to sponsor far-flung operations against the United States, including a recent plot to kill a Saudi diplomat in Washington.

    America has, in turn, found its own allies in this ongoing shadow war. One of them is the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), which for more than three decades has struggled to unseat the mullahs in favor of establishing democracy and restoring Iran’s status among peaceful, civilized nations. Organized among student intellectuals initially to oppose the shah’s dictatorship, the group has been an implacable foe of the regime under the ayatollahs. Driven out of Iran and ensconced in an Iraqi outpost since the early 1980s, the group disarmed after Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003 and has since provided vital intelligence to the United States on Iran’s activities in Iraq, as well as on Tehran’s nuclear program. They dedicated themselves publicly to a “secular, democratic, non-nuclear Iran.”

    The MEK has paid dearly for its opposition to the Iranian regime. Tens of thousands of its supporters were sent to the gallows by the ayatollahs. Their unarmed base in Iraq — a self-styled city known as Camp Ashraf — was ambushed twice by Iraqi forces at the behest of Iran, killing and wounding hundreds. In 2012, they were moved to a temporary location in Iraq, a former U.S. Army base known as Camp Liberty, where they have already been lethally attacked this year by rocket fire.

    Despite promises of protection given by the United States in exchange for the group disarming and surrendering its weapons of self-defense, the U.S. has ignored its members’ perilous plight. They remain refugees — hunted by the mullahs, abandoned by United Nations peacekeepers and ignored by the United States, which has forgotten its promises — awaiting their fate.

    Even the most hardened practitioners of realpolitik would not condone the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” attitude the United States has shown toward the MEK. Our goal in Iran is much more than counterterrorism or nuclear roll-back. It is, inexorably, regime change. Some of the democratic forces that have helped topple despots across the Middle East in recent years are brewing in Iran, and a day will come when one of the world’s most violent and repressive regimes finally collapses.

    A brilliant new book by a former U.S. policy official and arms negotiator, Lincoln Bloomfield Jr., looks at how the United States has by design and default kept a committed regime opponent and potential democratic ally in Iran sidelined, and is keeping Tehran’s day of reckoning at bay.

    In “The Mujahedin-e Khalq: Shackled by a Twisted History,” Mr. Bloomfield brings the MEK out of the shadows, revealing a lazy consensus among members of the Washington establishment that the MEK weren’t a “legitimate” opposition group worth defending. It also lays bare a dangerous game of kick-the-can by Democratic and Republican administrations alike, who delayed and deferred a decision to repatriate the exiles to safe havens outside Iraq, resulting in dozens of needless deaths.

    There is an interesting double play in the title of Mr. Bloomfield’s book. The “twisted” history of the group will be taken by some as a reference to the widespread perception of the MEK as a “cult,” but it is the history and narrative of the group itself that has been twisted beyond recognition, mostly by Iranian state propaganda, including use of intelligence agents in the West actively spreading the “cult” label against them. During the Clinton administration, the group was placed on the U.S. State Department’s list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” at the behest of Tehran. Despite not meeting any of the congressionally mandated criteria for what constitutes a terrorist group, the MEK languished on the list for nearly 15 years, drained of support and aid and suffering as an unsympathetic target for Iranian assassins. The listing was a major blow to the democracy movement in Iran and a shameful disservice to the group’s intentions, capabilities and sacrifices.

    Branded terrorists and cultists by regime propaganda, the MEK members have been massacred, isolated and dehumanized during their long Iraqi encampment. Sadly, the U.S. media bought the Iranian regime’s pretext lock, stock and barrel, ignoring the dissidents’ plight in their desert redoubt even as they provided the United States with the precise whereabouts of previously unknown Iranian nuclear activities.

    In September 2012, the group was at last removed from the foreign terrorism list after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rebuked the secretary of state for an “egregious delay” in making a decision that had been a slam dunk factually and legally. But 3,200 of its members continue to languish in prisonlike conditions inside Iraq, where they remain in mortal peril. Mr. Bloomfield argues that it is not too late for the United States to redeem itself and acknowledge its legal obligations as well as the contributions of the MEK by bringing them to safety. The Obama administration should delay not a moment longer.

    Tom Ridge was the first secretary of homeland security and is a former governor of Pennsylvania.


  • Protective Measures Are Necessary to Ensure the Safety and Security of the Population of Camp Ashraf

    Roll Call – July 16, 2013: The United States is again party to a good news–bad news event in the Middle East. For years, freedom-loving people around the world worked together under the courageous leadership of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, using every tool at their disposal, to get the wrongful designation of the Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) as a terrorist group removed.

    Finally, the “good guys” won, empowering the most powerful group outside Iran in favor of disposing of the current Iranian leadership and providing the freedom-loving people of Iran a chance for democracy. Unfortunately, the bad news is that there has been little time to celebrate that monumental victory because a potentially catastrophic event is unfolding at this moment!

    Regrettably, our victory is far less sweet than it might have otherwise been, because the U.S. requirement for delisting the MEK involved the residents voluntary moving from Ashraf to Liberty. Our U.S. State Department, which orchestrated the move under the guise of the United Nations, quickly accepted the Iraqi name of Hurriya vice Liberty when it recognized that the place did not approximate any form of the word liberty. But, with both U.S. and the UN assurances for their safety, some 3,100 residents made that move to Camp Liberty in January of last year.

    Now, let’s review the facts. The United States — yes, the United States, not the European Union, not the UN — at this point has made two guarantees to the MEK residents at Liberty and the 100 still at Camp Ashraf. First, in 1994, the United States guaranteed the protection of the residents when they agreed to disarm and secondly the United States promised they would be safe when they agreed to move from Camp Ashraf to the concentration camp-like facility called Camp Liberty. The U.S. also promised to work hard to ensure rapid resettlement from the hellhole known as Liberty to other countries, including the United States. The United States is clearly in breach of its agreements and international obligations, as well as written guarantees that it provided each resident in 2004 — to protect them until their final disposition.

    As an individual who fought for 38 years to protect the human rights and also provide an opportunity for freedom in such places as Vietnam, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, it pains me to see my government turn its back and to display such indifference — and most of all, to ignore its commitment and its promises. That is not the American way.

    And it’s not as if we don’t know that this is a catastrophe waiting to happen at the hands of the Iranian-controlled Maliki government in Iraq. The first rocket attack on Liberty, as we know, occurred last February and the latest occurred just a few weeks ago. But that’s not the full story. The sorry state of affairs at Liberty — lack of proper medical treatment, constant and continuous inhumane harassment at the hands of the Iraqis, preventing the delivery of foodstuffs, preventing the removal of sewage, and hundreds of other harassing techniques — showed what the Iraqi army and the Maliki government really stand for.

    Unable to win wars, it is a government and an army that excels in harassing women, children and the infirm. The United States must quit passing the buck. Note Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement issued immediately after the rocket attack: “We remain absolute. The United States remains committed to assisting the government of Iraq and UNAMI and implementing the December 25, 2011, agreement to quickly relocate the residents of Camp Hurriya outside Iraq. We must find a permanent and long-term solution that insures their safety.”


  • New president of Iran is no moderate

    By Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas)

    The Hill – July 15, 2013:  Many were quick to label Rouhani a “moderate,” suggesting that now may be the time to negotiate with Iran. However, despite the sham elections and promises of change by Rouhani, the structure of the Iranian regime remains intact. The ultimate power still remains with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The only change that matters in Iran is the prospect for true democratic change.

    Rouhani is no moderate. He has long been entrenched in the regime’s political and intelligence apparatus. Behind the facade of moderation is a simple truth evident since the last so-called “moderate” Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami: While the president may put on a charm offensive to the West, the supreme leader is still driving toward nuclear weapons and using terrorism abroad to accomplish his political agenda. While this strategy may have fooled many before, we should not be so naive this go-round.

    There are very simple and straightforward ways to measure meaningful change in Iran. Standard benchmarks include freedom of speech, the treatment of political prisoners and the use of terror abroad and at home. Can Rouhani have any effect on these issues? The simple answer is no. Short of complete institutional change, none of these matters will be addressed in any meaningful way.

    The elections were essentially another tactical maneuver by Khamenei to maintain his grip on power. Whereas his mass electoral fraud in 2009 in order to secure another term for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad resulted in rare popular protests, this year, increased isolation and division at home have forced him to take even more drastic steps to maintain his survival. The first of these maneuvers was the disqualification of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani from his candidacy in the elections.

    This was an act of desperation to avoid a potentially catastrophic situation at the polls. The once untouchable supreme leader now does not even have the political will to ensure conformity and discipline among his own rank and file.

    Though he wanted Iranian politician Saeed Jalili as president, Khamenei was forced to allow the election of Rouhani due to an inability to unite the candidates in his own faction, plus the fear of a widespread revolt if he engaged in blatant fraud. Such a tactic may allow him to surpass the danger of an immediate uprising but will inevitably lead to increased factional infighting down the line.

    Rouhani’s presidency may in fact serve to empower change in Iran, but not through reform or “moderation.” As the infighting escalates and dissent grows, activists in Iran may seize the opportunity to voice their desire for real and radical change, just like in 2009.

    This call for fundamental change was echoed June 22 in France, when more than 100,000 Iranians converged to remind the international community of the real desires of the Iranian people. They made a simple, yet compelling argument that the only policy option for dealing with Iran is to reject military intervention or further appeasement of this regime and to embrace democratic change.

    The Iranian delegates were joined by more than 600 political dignitaries, lawmakers and jurists representing a wide spectrum of political parties from 47 countries. 

    They urged the West to stand with the Iranian people in their quest for freedom. They stood in solidarity with those in attendance in advocating a democratic secular republic that respects civil and human rights, and ends the nuclear program. They also demanded that the international community act to ensure the protection of Iranian refugees trapped in Camp Liberty in Iraq, where two dissidents died in an attack the day after the election.

    The June 22 event highlighted hope for the democratic forces in Iran. It stood in stark contrast to the apathy and hopelessness that pervaded the elections. Policymakers would do well to remember who is really calling the shots in Tehran. As long as the supreme leader and his henchmen are in power, our best hope are those who are fighting for true, democratic change. And that’s just the way it is.

    Poe has represented Texas’s 2nd congressional district in the House of Representatives since 2005. He sits on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees and is chairman of the latter’s subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.


  • Time to take the necessary steps to secure the safety of the population of Camp Ashraf / Liberty

    By Tahar Boumedra

    The Hill – July 17, 2013 – This week the UN Security Council session will discuss the possibility of extending the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). It is expected on this occasion that the head of UNAMI, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Ambassador Martin Kobler will present his periodic and last report on the situation of the residents of Camp Ashraf/Liberty before he leaves Iraq for the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he will lead another UN complex mission. SRSG Kobler made it his priority to assist the Government of Iraq to close down Camp Ashraf where about 3400 Iranian exiles lived for the last 27 years and transfer them to a former U.S. Army base (Camp Liberty) at Baghdad Airport where they would be awaiting departure from Iraq. To do so, SRSG Kobler signed on December 25, 2011 a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Iraq setting conditions for their relocation and for the Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees to undertake their refugee status determination process as a first step for settling them outside Iraq.

    The SRSG promised the population of Camp Ashraf that their relocation to Camp Liberty is to ensure their safety and security. The UNHCR made it a condition that the RSD process takes place in a neutral and safe location outside Camp Ashraf.  While the MOU had other undeclared cynical objectives, the residents of Ashraf were lured into Camp Liberty with the false promise that the latter Camp provides safety and security and meets international standards. UNHCR promised a period of six months to deliver and start resettling the resident in third countries. I had repeatedly warned that Camp Liberty is neither safe nor secure nor meeting the applicable international humanitarian standards including the UN guidelines on the process applicable to forcible eviction. I also warned that the resettlement process will last for decades and the Government of Iraq publicly warned that they will not allow a de facto settlement in Iraq and that they will remove them by “all means.”

    My warnings went unheeded. Camp Liberty quickly proved its humanitarian and security limits. It turned into a detention center, some called it a “killing field”, with a population facing deprivations and daily harassment and a ban on all visits of actors that would bring the matter to the attention of the international community in an independent manner. NGOs, independent media, parliamentarians, including Iraqi parliamentarians, diplomats and representatives of other UN agencies separately from UNAMI are prevented from reaching the camp. The residents of Liberty are deprived of the most fundamental rights, such as access to justice and freedom of movement. Even burying the dead has proved to be a serious challenge to the Liberty residents contrary to the Islamic teaching. The daily harassments of the residents soon turned into armed attacks against them. They were showered with war missiles on February 9th,  April 28th and June 15th of this year, from a nearby location known to have a heavy presence of the Iraqi army. Eleven people were killed and scores of them were injured. UNAMI hardly condemned the attack. Instead, the SRSG called on the residents’ representatives to allow the residents more freedom to communicate. Could one enjoy freedom of communication if deprived of his/her freedom of movement, freedom to meet lawyers, NGOs, parliamentarians? What does freedom of communication mean to a population forcibly placed in a detention center without the due process of law?

    As the situation stands today, Camp Liberty residents are locked up in a detention center lacking minimum security requirements and the minimum humanitarian conditions. They stand exposed to serious and imminent danger. If nothing is done to rescue them from this situation, no doubt there will be more rocket attacks against them, there will be more loss of life and lot of pain to the residents and their families.

    Camp Liberty today is a real case where the responsibility to protect is most needed and most appropriate. It does not need any complex and costly operation. All it needs is to declare the Camp a prima facie refugee Camp and request the Government of Iraq to effectively ensure their safety, security and dignity while the UNHCR continues its effort in view of resettling them outside Iraq. The contribution of the international community to resettle this small population will go into history as an opportunity where UN member states lived up to their commitments and upheld the core values of the UN Charter. Any further attacks against this defenseless population will seriously undermine the integrity and credibility of the United Nations and its member states who took the responsibility of placing them at Camp Liberty.

    Boumedra was chief of the Human Rights Office of United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and adviser to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Camp Ashraf affairs from 2009 until 2012.

    Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/311721-time-to-take-the-necessary-steps-to-secure-the-safety-of-the-population-of-camp-ashrafliberty#ixzz2a58JXUhc 

  • On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Opposition satellite channel airs Holocaust film into Iran

    On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Simay-e Azadi television channel (www.iranntv.com) broadcast the 1982 Academy Award winning documentary, “Genocide”, produced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, via satellite to millions of Iranians.

    The broadcast of the film, in original sound track with Farsi subtitles, by the opposition television channel, was in stark contrast to the denials by the Iranian regime and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Holocaust never happened.

    In a report on the broadcast, the New York Times wrote on January 25, “Rabbi Marvin Hier, who is the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center here, as well as a producer of ‘Genocide,’ said two showings of the documentary were scheduled for broadcast on Friday by opponents of the current government of Iran.” “This is a big thing,” Rabbi Hier said in a telephone interview this week. “Iran is the center of denial of the Holocaust in the entire world.”

    “A similar 2005 effort by the Wiesenthal Center broadcast a short clip of the film into Iran; but this time around, the entire documentary, which has a running time of 88 minutes, is being shown, and posted online and streamed on Iranntv.com,” the New York Times added.

    In a statement, the Simon Wiesenthal Center described the “the first-ever broadcast of the film into Iran with Farsi subtitles” as an “historic break-through.”

    One of the main programs of the U.S. Foundation for Liberty is to support Simay-e Azadi in maintaining and expanding its broadcasts and programming.

  • Iraq obstruction causes tragic death of Liberty resident

    A political dissident tragically died on Sunday in Camp Liberty, Iraq, after being denied medical treatment by Iraqi authorities.

    Behrooz Rahimian was 56 years old and belonged to the main opposition movement People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Some 3,200 dissidents were relocated in 2012 from Camp Ashraf, where they had resided for 25 years, to Camp Liberty near Baghdad’s international airport.

    Since then, the residents have lived in intolerable conditions and have been systematically denied access to proper medical treatment. The residents are not allowed to transfer their medical supplies and equipment to CampLiberty from CampAshraf.

    As a result of the medical siege on the camp, imposed by Iraqi authorities at the behest of the Iranian regime, 14 residents have thus far lost their lives. Their deaths could have been easily prevented.

    The latest victim of the medical siege, Mr. Rahimian, had undergone heart surgery in 2003, and remained under treatment until four years ago when the Iraqi government imposed the blockade.

    Mr. Rahimian reported intense chest pains on November 25, and was transferred to a hospital outside of Liberty in Baghdad. However, he said in a letter to the UN mission in Iraq a day after his visit to the hospital that the Iraqi agents escorting him prevented his hospitalization.

    The Iraqi agents escorting Mr. Rahimian to the hospital, he wrote, had “created an intimidation atmosphere and openly told [the hospital staff] that they were not allowed to keep me over night.”

    He was forced to return to Liberty without receiving his treatment and died less than a month later.

    Multiple letters were sent to the UN Assistance Missions in Iraq (UNAMI), headed by Ambassador Martin Kobler, but the agency refused to intervene. Under international law, the residents in Liberty are considered “protected persons” in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and “asylum-seekers” according to the UN Refugee Agency.

    Mr. Rahimian was a veteran activist for peace and democracy in Iran. Eight of his family members were brutally killed at the hands of the Iranian regime, including three of his brothers and his wife.

    Families of Liberty residents in the U.S. and Europe condemned the Iraqi government’s siege on medical access for the residents of Camp Liberty and called on the United States and the United Nations to intervene to help lift the medical siege on Liberty.

    The Iraqi government must be compelled to allow the residents to transfer their medical equipment to the camp in order to offer badly needed treatment to patients who 

  • protect-those-who-stand-on-the-right-side-of-history

    Protect those who stand on the right side of history

    What is a promise worth in the political world? For 3,200 Iranian refugees in Iraq a promise may be worth everything. The refugees, who had previously resided in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, are members of the opposition group Peoples Mojahedin of Iran, (PMOI). They now await relocation from what has been ironically named “Camp Liberty”, a facility many have compared with an internment camp. The residents of Camp Liberty have not forgotten the promise made to them by the United States in 2003, and continue to call on the U.S. to stand by its words.

    The promise in question was made following the invasion of 2003, when the United States signed a ceasefire agreement with the residents of Camp Ashraf, guaranteeing every resident  protected person status under the fourth Geneva Convention. Yet this promise was repeatedly broken after the United States surrendered control of the camp the Iraqi military in 2009. Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki’s close relationship to Tehran put the dissidents in Ashraf firmly in his crosshairs. Since 2009, 49 residents of Ashraf have been killed in clashes with Iraqi police, and hundreds have been wounded. The second raid which killed 34 residents was referred to as a “massacre” in a statement by the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations.

    Since that time evidence has been exposed, including leaked cables which revealed not only that Iraq was taking orders from Iran, but that the United States turned a blind eye to the massacre. Previous raids against the residents were preceded by meetings with high level Iranian officials, and even received formal approval by Iranian Supreme leader Khamenei.
    Over the last year, Ashraf residents were transferred to a new facility near the Baghdad airport called “Camp Liberty”, in the hopes of relocating to a third country with the cooperation of the UN and the international community. Yet this effort has been mired in scandal as, Tahar Boumedra, who was the former chief of the UNAMI Human Rights Office, accused UNAMI  of acting as an agent of the Iraqi government in putting pressure on residents in the camp. In an interview with the Washington Post, Boumedra outlines the questionable actions employed by Martin Kobler, U.N. special representative for Iraq, in misrepresenting the adequacy of facilities in Camp Liberty to Ashraf residents.

    The problems with Camp Liberty were confirmed in a report published by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, referring to the situation of residents in Liberty as violation of international laws, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Despite these hardships, almost all of Camp Ashraf has been emptied and residents have stood by their commitments to relocate, cooperating with UNAMI and the Iraqi government in the process of relocation.

    Yet there are disturbing reports that the Iraqi government has begun to confiscate the property at Camp Ashraf with no intention to return the items or reimburse residents for them. These plans come after increased pressure on the Iranian regime from sanctions, economic turmoil and their desperate state in Syria. The Iranian regime is still desperate to get their hands on the residents of Liberty, and looks at them as a symbol of resistance that cannot be tolerated. The recent de-listing of the PMOI from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations has left Tehran scrambling for ways to discredit the organization.

    The United States must ensure that Iraq guarantees the safety and security of the residents in Liberty, and ensures a transparent and safe transfer or property and equipment from Camp Ashraf. The United States must also take a leading role in finding countries which will accept the residents of Liberty in order to expedite their transfer and avoid a prolonged conflict.

    That is why the United States must keep its promise. Now is the time to protect those who stand on the right side of history. Now is the time to protect Iranian dissidents against a failing dictatorship. The United States’ words used to carry weight in foreign affairs, and their promises served as the foundation for action. It is time to ensure that the promise made to the resident dissidents in Camp Liberty are honored and not forgotten.

  • honoring-international-human-rights-day

    Honoring International Human Rights Day

    International Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10. It commemorates the adoption in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    When the assembly adopted the declaration, with 48 states in favor and eight abstentions, it was proclaimed as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”, towards which individuals and societies should “strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance”.

    The declaration with its range of political, civil, social, cultural and economic rights is not a binding document. However, it provides the foundation for more than 60 human rights instruments.
    This year, however, the United Nations has chosen to focus on inclusion and the right to participate in public life. The UN says this right is fundamental to a functioning democratic society and an effective human rights protection system.
    Each person should be able to choose those who represent them in all governance institutions, to stand for public office, and to vote on the fundamental questions that shape their individual and collective destinies.
    The above mentioned ideals are very much far fetched when it comes to Iran. Under the mullahs’ rule which is fundamentally governed by the so-called “vali-e faqih” the supreme leader, there is no room left for such standards.
    Iran is a country which has been condemned fifty-nine times by the United Nations for its gross violations of human rights. The mullahs’ regime has a long history of mass and arbitrary executions for the last three decades including at least 100 inmates who were executed from October 22 to November 14 this year.
    The news of atrocious mass executions in various cities across Iran, and the cruel murder of political prisoners such as Sattar Beheshti and Jamil Soveidi under brutal tortures shocked the world.
    It was a timely occasion when dozens of Iranian-Americans gathered outside the White House to call for an end to the atrocious executions and express solidarity with the family members of the Iranian regime’s victims.
    The participants’ message was clear and simple: Fight for victims of torture. Raise your voice for thousands who languish in various jails and be the voice of Iranian dissidents in Camp Liberty, who have stood tall in their struggle for human rights and democracy in Iran.

  • iran-must-be-held-to-account

    Iran must be held to account

    On November 27, 2012, while the imprisoned Iranian Human Rights lawyer and recipient of the 2012 Sakharov Prize Nasrin Sotoudeh was on her 6th week of hunger strike, the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee passed two resolutions again this year, condemning the governments of Iran & Syria for rights violations in their respective countries.

    Ms. Sotoudeh, known for defending Iranian dissidents, was arrested in September 2011 and later convicted of spreading propaganda against the government and acting against national security. She had represented many imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections.  She also represented many prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were juveniles. Iran is currently the only UN member state that still executes children. While jailed at Evin Prison, Ms. Sotoudeh has protested the restrictions placed on her, her husband, and their 12-year-old daughter, who are barred from leaving the country or visiting her.  She went on hunger strike on October 17th, 2012.  Her family has reported that Ms. Sotoudeh spent 17 days in solitary confinement in punishment for her hunger strike.  Nine other female prisoners also went on hunger strike this fall, alleging abuse by guards, including access to medical care.

    Also this October, Sattar Beheshti, a 35-year-old Iranian blogger who maintained a site on which he criticized the Iranian government, was arrested on by the cyber police without a warrant. He was taken to Tehran’s Kahrizak detention facility, where he was reported to have been subjected to ill-treatment and/or torture. On November 6th, prison authorities contacted his family, asking them to collect his body.  The United Nations has called for an investigation of this incident.  Mr. Beheshti’s murder while in custody resembles many other previously reported instances of extrajudicial killings by Iranian authorities. 

    “Harsh prison sentences handed down to journalists and bloggers, following trials in which defendants’ rights to due process and a fair trial are not guaranteed, exemplify broader conditions of severe restrictions on freedom of expression and opinion”, noted the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue on November 15, 2012.

    The U.S. Foundation for Liberty condemns Iranian government’s inhuman treatment of its citizens, disrespect for international law, and its crimes against humanity committed or enabled in both Iran & Syria.  With these crimes, Iranian and Syrian governments are trying to suffocate voices of Liberty.  It is on us to refuse to be silent.  It is on us to be the voice of those who, because of these crimes, cannot speak for themselves.  We call on the international community, especially concerned citizens of the United States, to help us shed light on these atrocities and on those who are responsible for committing them. 

    To help, please click here.

  • conditions-worsen-at-camp-liberty-in-iraq-administration-breaks-promises

    Conditions Worsen at Camp Liberty in Iraq, Administration Breaks Promises

    We have received the following statement by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. about Camp Liberty. 

    Conditions Worsen at Camp Liberty in Iraq, Administration Breaks Promises
    Washington, D.C. –Today, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46) sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, inquiring why no US officials have conducted an inspection visit of Camp Liberty, Iraq in almost a month. Camp Liberty now holds almost all the former residents of Camp Ashraf, members of the Iranian dissident group Mujahedeen-e Khalq.

    “During the lead up to the planned transfer of the Camp Ashraf residents, I was repeatedly assured that officials from the US Embassy in Baghdad would frequently visit Camp Liberty to ensure the residents’ safety and well being,” writes Rohrabacher. “A month gap between visits is entirely unacceptable. America’s credibility has been and is currently being tarnished by our failure to safeguard a group of civilians who we disarmed and left at the mercy of the Iranian regime and its allies in Baghdad.”

    Since the US military left Camp Liberty, the camp was looted and its infrastructure has not been maintained. The Iraqi military has limited the type of supplies that may enter the camp, the sewage system is now broken and leaking and heating units needed for the winter months are breaking down.
    “The US Government must not allow the situation at Camp Liberty to continue as it is,” the letter states.  “The State Department must let the Maliki Government know that it has to end its harassment of the MeK and afford them humane, safe, and decent living conditions as required by UNHRC standards until their relocation out of Iraq can be arranged.