|General David Philips|
|Tuesday, 28 February 2012 21:10|
Thank you. Harnum lady corbett az in kee man ra davat kardin mutsharkiram.
Distinguished guests, family and friends of those at camp Ashraf i’m honoured to be with you today. I must say that with that introduction you gave me remember I carry a heavy burden because I was part in charge of consolidating the people at Ashraf, working the disarmament and doing my *daw gawndest* (1:41:56) to prove what I was being told that they were terrorists, so i’m honoured that you would clap today, but until we live up to the promise we gave them I will continue to speak out.
I spent over three decades on active duty with the United States army. I was there when the people of Ashraf consolidated from all of the facilities across Iraq in 2003. I was there when they voluntarily disarmed. I was in charge of directing that they be biometrically identified, some of the most cutting edge technology of identifying a person: through DNA, through retinal scans. Sure, we did finger prints and photos too. We then brought in a team of across the coalition forces, from the UK too, and we investigated over 3000. Every single member that was there. And there’s been allegations that they want to leave camp Ashraf well we took every single member off of camp Ashraf. The United Nations doesn’t say this very often, we took them up north in Diyala province and individually gave them that opportunity. “Do you want to leave?” Well, I can tell you out of over three thousand eight hundred at the time we had smaller than a handful that wanted to leave and most was because of medical issues of their family of other places. They voluntarily went back and we did the investigations into them and I was waiting. I wanted a smoking gun to justify why we are treating these people this way, why we are putting them in a camp with no due process.
And when the FBI senior agent came back in I said “alright here we go we’re going to probably have to go in and seize a hundred, two hundred, three hundred of them by force.” What he told me was “we are going home, we are done.”
“Yeah and, and?”
“Nothing. There’s not one allegation of credible evidence against any of one of the 3800 members at camp ashraf so have fun.”
Now I mentioned this before in jest, but i’ll say it because I know the people in ashraf are seeing this. Hossein Mandenani I do know about those parking tickets that you got when you were going to school up in Michigan. We were that thorough. Well, we shut down their radio station. And what were they broadcasting into Iran? Because I had farsi speaking linguists. They said “sir why are you shutting it down? They are playing music thats not allowed to be played in Iran now and they are broadcasting speeches of freedom. It'free reins just like our own voice of America.” I was devastated, but we had to shut down the radio station.
Then we got allegations of torture, imprisonment and hidden weapons [that] were coming into us. I had free rein to that camp so at 2 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon we would run operations and raid facilities. Never did I find a weapon unless you count bayonets. I let them keep the bayonets. My soldiers kept their bayonets. No weapons. No ammunition. There was no torture ever going on. And we definitely didn't find anyone imprisoned. It was all false propaganda being fed in from the Iranian regime trying to get us to believe the fact that they were truly terrorists. Well, that is the only place in the country of Iraq - and I have to tell you I was in al Maliki's office with general Petraeus on numerous occasions and I was armed, but when I was with the people of camp Ashraf my weapon hung back in my humvee cos - I didn't need to be armed.
It was a tough go. I had to live with all of that because after that investigation, we, those of use that were responsible for the protection of camp Ashraf were told nope they are protected persons under the fourth Geneva Convention I was very proud of the unit I commanded: the 89th military police brigade. Every one of you has walked past that proud patch that we all wore on our sleeves and may not even realise it. I was so proud of the organisation and I felt so strong about the promise that my country had given them that I put the patch of my unit on the card of every single member of the people of camp Ashraf and they are on the wall back there. Right here. This card here. I put the patch of my unit and it says protected persons. Has their identification, their photo and phone numbers to contact if anything issues ever happened. Unfortunately the picture on the cards hanging in the back and these two here: they were not protected very well because they were killed by Iraqis and gunned down this past April. I'm still here talking about this because thats my units patch. There were American soldiers who died wearing that patch protecting the people at Ashraf. And what did we do to them? We abandoned them. And what kind of promise isn't understood on that.
Over 5,000 American soldiers and some of the allied and coalition soldiers worked at Ashraf over the time that we were there from 2003 to 2009. Have you ever heard one of them make any comment about the terrorists there? They are still all shaking their heads. Many contacting me, telling me “go on General, keep going” Because what were we doing? It is ridiculous. We abandoned them and now we are standing watching. Camp Liberty was turned over to the Iraqis in working order. The generators were operational, the air conditioning worked in all the facilities. We left fuel in the fuel pods to run those generators and then I started getting phone calls from many of my Iraqi contacts. And I worked with Iraqis for many years, and a vast majority are wonderful people who care about their country and they are watching it getting hijacked by another tyrant.
Some very senior leaders told me “General Philips my friend, camp Liberty is not what you remember. It’s been looted, vandalised and the place they want to put the people of Ashraf is horrid.” Under horrible conditions. In some of my discussions with my Iraqi friends the term Gulag came up. Also, concentration camp. Well, recently one of my Iraqi friends called because he cares about his country and said we do not want the term camp Liberty to be synonymous with Buchenwald and Dachau, but its headed that way.
The people of Ashraf saw this notebook as I carried it everywhere and I was making notes all the time. Well, I never believed I would have to pull a document out of that notebook and show the world this is the camp Liberty, the concentration camp that 397 people from camp Ashraf are now forced to live in. There was an MOU that was signed by the United Nations. That this was not the case. 23 senior leaders including myself petitioned to go to Iraq to inspect camp Liberty at our own cost. We were turned down; the Iraqis didn't want us inspecting it. What were they hiding from us behind those 18 foot high walls?
Well, we now know. I contacted ambassador Kobler multiple times. I’ve laid my credentials on the line. I know what it takes to run a camp with 4000 soldiers. I would come over there, I offered to assist him. I am good friends with many of the Iraqi leaders. The ones who's hearts are bleeding because of what they are watching happen to their country and these people at Ashraf. I have good contacts with them. I have good contacts with the people in Ashraf. And I could do your job ambassador Kobler and you could take the credit i’ll do it at my own cost. He refuses to return my emails or phone calls. If you are afraid mr Kobler i’ll send my daughter over. She’ll cover it down for you. You can stay behind your walls where you're staying at.
I don't want to see another massacre take place inside of what was called camp Liberty. I’ll go over there tomorrow and get on a flight and fly down to Baghdad and go there and check it at my own cost. I have my wife's approval to do this because we want to have eyes on. The Iraqis want us to see whats going on there. They want us to validate it so that al Maliki and his own puppets and henchman cannot cause another massacre. Now they are blaming the members of 397 who are at camp Liberty. They are blaming them for all the problems that is stolen, well how do you steal something when you are locked behind concrete walls? Yeah, can you believe that? And that you are causing all of the problems and that you are breaking everything. Well, let me tell you: I saw the people of camp Ashraf create an oasis in the desert but no-one, no-one on this earth is going to be able to create a humane condition out of sewage and thats whats on the other side of those walls.
So if I could be any place in the world tomorrow. Any place. Where would I be? It would be fulfilling a promise I gave to those people. It would be going back to Ashraf and saying i'm back and daw garnit we are gonna protect you because we promised to protect you and its about time my government delisted you and did the right thing. What we told you we were gonna do. We will protect you when you turn in your weapons. Thank you.
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