|Mrs. Linda Chavez - Pledges Bear The Stamp Of The United States Government|
|Saturday, 19 May 2012 20:35|
Washington D.C., May 15, 2012 - Thank you, thank you very much. First of all, let me also give my thanks to Patrick Kennedy and I've had the privilege over the years. I've had a privilege a number of years ago in 1980 to actually write campaign literature for your father when I was with the American Federation of Teachers. When I was nominated by George W. Bush to be Secretary of labor he called me up to congratulate me and he said what would be most helpful, should I oppose you or should I support you? So we have been on both sides. (Laughter.)
And I do think that it is interesting, that in Washington which has become so incredibly polarized politically over the last few years, it is really quite remarkable to have a panel of people who stretch across such a wide ideological and political spectrum.
I think it is a testament to the fact that this is not a partisan issue. In the real sense this is not a political issue and should not be a political issue. This is a human rights issue.
It is an issue about what the Constitution of the United States means, what due process means and what our judicial systems should mean.
So it is a privilege to come here and talk and as Patrick said, my work with the United Nation's Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities started in 1992.
I was appointed by President George Herbert Walker Bush. I should say I was nominated by the U.S. Government under that administration.
But I served also through the Clinton administration in that position because I was elected by the United Nations Human Rights Commission that was the first opportunity I had to meet anyone from the MeK.
And I have to tell you, when I was first approached, I was a little suspicious. Who are these people calling themselves the Mujahedin. Were these people our friends, are these people dangerous?
I got to know the people who worked at the United Nations and I found out that what they were interested in was the same thing I was interested in; and that is the protection of human rights and their focus was on the protection of human rights in Iran.
And they provided me over those four years valuable information about the human rights violations that were going on in Iran and particularly, because it was a focus of my interest, on the human rights violations that were going on against women.
Because if you look at any society, if you want to judge a society -- is this a good society? Is this a bad society? One of the most effective and quickest ways to determine whether these people are friends or are they enemies is to look at how they treat their women. (Applause.)
I do not believe that there is any place practically in the world where women are more badly treated than they are in Iran.
Women are denied the most basic rights. They're told how to dress. You could be a tourist in Iran and you could have the vice police pull you off the side because you are not dressed to their standards.
Women are imprisoned. They are put in the most appalling conditions. They are sometimes tortured. They are sometimes raped. And they are finally, some of them, executed in the most brutal inhumane ways.
Women in Iran, as well as all of the Iranian people, have had to suffer under this regime for more than 30 years.
Now, it's not just that Iran violates human rights within its own country. The regime is also a direct threat against the world.
And by the way, we're talking about the MeK being terrorists; we know who the terrorists are. The terrorists are the regime in Iran. (Applause.)
MS. CHAVEZ: The whole idea of listing an organization on the foreign terrorist list is based on the premise that they pose a direct, credible threat to the United States.
Well, we know that there is American blood on the hands of the regime in Iran. They were behind the Beirut bombing, Embassy bombing, they were behind the bombing of the U.S. barracks. They have American blood on their hands. So we know they are the threat.
We also know that the delay, the sort of taking at face value that maybe they will talk to us, maybe they will let us inspect what's going on in Iran has allowed them the opportunity to enrich uranium to make nuclear bombs.
This is something we know in press reports suggest that they already have enough to make enriched uranium to make at least four bombs, it may be more. I'm not an expert in this room. I don't know.
I do know that delay is not just as General Mukasey suggests or I guess it was Alan Dershowitz, it's not just a question of justice delayed, delayed is justice denied.
When you're talking about delay in something as fundamental as trying to stop the production of nuclear weapons, you are talking about threatening human lives, not just the United States, but throughout the world.
So we really do have a stake in making sure that the MeK in its listing on the terrorist list is not simply a bargaining chip in trying to get the Iranians to stop what they have been doing, and that is enriching uranium in order to be able to build bombs.
Now, I want to talk a minute about conditions for those who are living, the remaining people who are in Camp Ashraf. But also I think even more in parallel those who have been moved to Camp Liberty.
We're about to enter the summer right now. And many of you, from that part of the world, are very familiar with what summers are like in Iran. We're talking about temperatures that can get brutally hot. And yet the people who are living in Camp Liberty do not even have an adequate water supply system. They have not been able to tap into the water system. Water has to be tanked in. There is not sufficient water. It does not provide for proper hygiene. It does not provide for proper hydration of the number of people there.
The women who are in those camps have to be confronted on a daily basis with the soldiers who -- by the way all are armed. We're all talking about whether or not the MeK is armed. We know who has arms. We know who has weapons. We know who has the rifles aimed at people. It is the Iraqi forces that are in control of Camp Liberty.
We also know that there have been 50 people who were killed. Does it make any sense in the world, if your family member, if your daughter, if your wife, if your son were being shot at by somebody with a rifle and you had a hidden pistol somewhere or even a knife, do you not think that you would pull it out and defend them, defend your family members? Makes absolutely no sense? So we are talking about those conditions in Camp Liberty and what it means.
Now, I believe in the freedom of movement of people. I believe that people particularly, particularly those that are under threat of repression by their governments should have the right to be able to leave.
And I think it is absolutely clear that those who are in Camp Liberty are prisoners. They have no freedom of movement. They can't go outside Camp Liberty. Not even to get adequate medical care when they need it.
They don't allow people in to be able to interview them to find out what the conditions are. It is a concentration camp. That's what it is. (Applause.)
And yet many of those who claim that, women, they have the freedom, they can apply -- they've been taken off the terrorist list by the European Union, you know, the United States is one of the only countries, with Iran, that is listing the MeK and MeK members as terrorists.
But the fact is no one, no country will take someone who is officially listed by the United States of America as a terrorist.
And everyone who is associated with the MeK, and that means all of those still in Camp Ashraf and all of those in Camp Liberty, are under suspicion of being terrorists and threats to the United States of America. Nobody is going to take those.
And least of all, is the United States going to take those?
So I think it is absolutely one aspect that human rights are being violated by the fact that these people are not being treated as refugees. They are not even being accorded when they would be accorded if they were officially prisoners of war, which would be protection by the Geneva Convention.
I will say to General Phillips that one of the things that happened when people turned over their weapons, when they gave up their personal weapons, when the camp gave up its military weapons, one of the things the United States did was to sign a pledge with each of those individuals guaranteeing their security.
Those pledges bear the stamp of the United States Government and yet we are not protecting those people. And the only way to protect those people is to de-list the MeK so that these people have the freedom to go and to live where they choose.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
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