|Alain Vivien – Time to Step Up International Pressure on Baghdad|
|Monday, 09 January 2012 16:42|
In the international conference held in Paris on Friday, December 6, 2012 in defense of Ashraf, Alain Vivien, former French Minister of State for European Affairs and currently President of the French Committee for a democratic Iran made the following remarks:
Madam President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me first situate myself in line with the struggle that the French Committee for a Democratic Iran has led since its inception; an Iranian republic, free, sovereign, with separation of church and state, peaceful, and with non- nuclear military. This ideal will eventually prevail. It is shared among many foreign dignitaries, particularly from the U.S., of whom some are in this room, with determination to lead their own struggle to convince their colleagues in Washington, in particular, about the just cause defended by the NCRI. Before all, I would like to thank everyone, particularly Mr. Mitchell Reiss, who was formerly an official of the Department of State in 2007 through 2009. He was kind enough to accept to mediate this meeting.
We meet today, in a sense, in urgency, to expose and if possible stop the persecution and torture of 3500 Iranian refugees in Ashraf. Unfortunately their perilous situation arises most directly from the invasion of Iraq, which the French government then refused to join. I was an opposition parliamentarian at the time and as almost all the public opinion in France, I confirmed this rejection. This gave way to raise some difficulties, especially in the media of the United States. Everyone must recognize, however, that allegiance does not mean to accept a specific policy. But since the United States and with them a few states have embarked on this adventure of eight years, it was necessary for United States to draw all the consequences before evacuating Iraq, specially the Iraq that is far from being peaceful. We could at least expect the current successor of the dictator Saddam Hussein to respect humanitarian standards recognized by international treaties indeed subscribed by the Iraqi government itself. In reality you can’t proclaim defense of globally accepted values as a justification for military occupation of a third country without a robust support of principles and measures such as those mentioned in the Geneva Conventions in protecting refugees. Certainly, there have been many discussions between the Government of the United States and the authorities in Baghdad. We noted the remarks byf President Obama during his recent meeting with Mr. Maliki. However, we hope that confidential exchange of views, before official statements, will allow to corrections in the complacency of formal discourse. For, we should remember, when negotiating with the devil - it's a French saying - always have on hand a long spoon, because behind Maliki, there are the moving shadows of Iranian mullahs.
Yet it was obvious that except under a strong constraint, the Baghdad government does not move in good faith towards a satisfactory outcome of the Ashraf tragedy. Mullahs’ countless atrocities have never ceased against the refugees in Ashraf, and it continued with the complicity of the authorities in Baghdad, if not direct involvement.
The date of departure of Iranian refugees in Ashraf was established by the Iraqi government, without any prior consultation. Neither with the refugees themselves, nor with those who were still in place in the coalition led by the United States, let alone with the United Nations representatives. Despite the efforts of Ashraf residents and courage of the officials at the National Council of Resistance of Iran, all honorable compromises and proposals have rejected. Moreover, from the moment Baghdad unilaterally announced the time of departure of the exiles, a most inhuman behavior against the residents has begun Now as the time of Armenians or the Jews, Baghdad is forcing the Ashraf residents to leave the camp, without even being able to bring their own personal belongings. It is as if the preferred solution of Maliki would eventually be return the residents to their country Iran, where the henchmen of Mr. Ahmadinejad would surely welcome them with the generosity known!
But enough of this sickening considerations. It's time to step up international pressure on Baghdad. And this is possible. The European Union has made proposals, several states which help compose it are willing to accept the refugees, the UN has finally decided to remain in place with permanent observers if needed in the absence of a contingent of peacekeeping forces who have rendered the greatest services. It is proposed to Ashraf exiles to resettle in an old American camp called Liberty.
But the Iraqi authorities, who had plundered the camp in advance, are currently busy building a wall on the outskirts of Berlin (Camp). With no doubt that this new refugee camp is beginning to look more like a concentration camp, in addition to expected systematic harassments, the difficulty access to medical attention for the exiles, the inability for patients to seek treatment in a hospital, and all the mental torture inflicted upon them up until now, will add to their already lack of trust in their fate.
Today, the civilized world wonders. The United States, which still has influence over the Maliki’s already divided and largely discredited government may still act effectively. As we will hear the representatives of American public opinion, who are undoubtedly are among the most enlightened American women and men, would enter this fight strongly, the public opinion will turn in an effective way to the benefit of Ashraf residents. Specially that we are on the eve of the Presidential elections. This is a factor not to be missed.
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