|Ambassador Stuart Holliday – The Epic Struggle of Our Time and Threshold Issue of Century|
|Friday, 06 April 2012 00:00|
Thank you. Thank you very much. I want to thank the Iranian-Americans for the opportunity to be with you today. It's an honor to be in the presence of such distinguished statesman, public servants. How many representatives do we have from Texas today? Okay, I heard you're catching up to California. I'd like to see that. We're very proud of our Texas roots here in Washington, so. (Applause)
Yesterday I had an opportunity to look through a book of some 20,000 victims of people that had been killed in the regime of Iran going back to the 1980s. It struck me that the conversation we're having now is not just a matter of weeks, days, months; but this is really the epic struggle of our time. This has been going on a long time and what happens with the MEK and how this issue is resolved and what happens to the future of Iran is really the threshold issue of the 21st century. (Applause.)
I opened the page and I saw a young woman who had been training for the Olympics. She was training to be a member of the Iranian Olympic team, with her were many others athletes, artists and scientists that really showed and displayed the incredible talents of the Iranian people and culture. It struck me she had the same look in her eyes that the woman in the video, Saba, I believe had, and the same stele determination that of the woman who was killed on the streets of Tehran during the elections had, which is the determination to stand up to what I think is really one of the last very evil and oppressive regimes in the world. And one that your struggle will have an important impact on.
I think it's fair to say that much of what has been described are the facts of this matter and the facts obviously support your case and the view that not only were you a, I would say, an innocent actor in what was a larger epic struggle in the beginning of the Iraq war, but this potential to be overlooked and to not have I think what the right decision made will continue to be an issue.
There are a number of stories. There are stories of members of Camp Ashraf helping build homes for the U.S. military actually selling software and engaging in what you see is the development of a vibrant community. I think we all have to be very vigilant and this is a real test for the United Nations as to what UNHCR does at Camp Liberty. I fully agree with my colleagues, there must be an accelerated process and there should be a evaluation of what can be done at the Security Council to push and accelerate the process to repatriating our colleagues and family members and friends in Camp Liberty. And I agree further with Professor Dershowitz, we should be the first country to stand up and accept those refugees and come out publicly and do so today. (Applause.)
I think it's interesting in what Ambassador Bolton said, we are here in a struggle with a regime who has done things, terrible things to people. I think it's sort of ironic today that the government of Iran said there are two cities it would meet for consultations with the P5 Plus 1 nuclear issue; Damascus and Baghdad. That's somewhat ironic. Even our Turkish friends, who have tried hard to function as an intermediary, are growing weary with what is another foot dragging effort to stall for time.
I think that why this issue is particularly important right now is because of the power of social media and the power of public opinion in Iran. As you all know full well, I was always struck by the degree to which Iranian people diverged from the regime in terms of what their view of what Iranian society and culture and political life to be. And I think that this issue is being watched very closely in Iran. It is being followed. And I think if you were looking at how we can effectuate change in Iran, it is not only you all here, but the entire diasporas community in the United States that can play an important role in communicating back that there are strong efforts being made to correct this issue. That the pressure is on. The full weight of the United States legal system, our constitutional scholars, great attorneys, great statesmen are on this case and I'm very hopeful in the coming days and weeks that these efforts will come to fruition.
I'd like to just conclude by saying that there is a new initiative of the State Department to focus on diaspore communities and there's this recognition that diaspore communities can play an important function in terms of reaching out in terms of public diplomacy in engaging, I think this community in the United States, not only an accomplished community with great leaders, but one with increasing power, increasing political voice, needs to use that voice and it needs to use that voice not only so it's heard here in Washington, but so it keeps the hope alive of those people, your countrymen, your friends, your family that are in Iran and especially those that are at, that are in between Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty.
So I join my fellow colleagues here in wishing you the very best and that we call upon the State Department, we call upon your government to do the right thing. I think as Governor Rendell said, Secretary Clinton, I believe her heart is in the right place and the question is, will that building be able to produce the kind of decision that needs to happen quick enough, soon enough so that there will be no more suffering and no more what I would say would be a humanitarian tragedy if this is allowed to continue.
I have three little brothers who served in Iraq, in our military, one in the Army, one in the Marines and one in the Navy. I think this commitment that was made by our government to the security and protection of the people at Camp Ashraf, it would be a disservice to them and all the other veterans to turn a blind eye to this. I thank you for the opportunity. Again, I've enjoyed getting to know some of you and I hope to speak to you further about this important cause. Thank you. (Applause.)
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