|Struan Stevenson: After Feb. 9 Attack, No More Business As Usual|
Geneva, February 28, 2013 - Thank you very much Mr. President and Madam Rajavi. This morning, here in the Palais de Nations the Deputy Foreign Minister for Iran, Mr. Mohammad Mehdi Akhundzadeh made a speech in which he said: Iran’s commitment to the protection of and promotion of human rights is steadfast. Tell that to these people, hanging from cranes in public executions. Tell it to the people who have suffered lapidation, rape, amputations, floggings, and torture.
Mr. Akhundzadeh, the Deputy Foreign Minister from Iran knows Geneva well. He was sent here by the mullahs in 1990 as part of a team who assassinated Dr. Kazem Rajavi, the brother-in-law of Mrs. Rajavi. And the police have his name on records here. They want to interrogate him about that offense, and he returns here disgracefully today, rewarded for his service to the mullahs by being given a ministerial office and coming to Geneva to lecture us about human rights. This is an outrage.
And he went on to say: It is indeed our ultimate guideline in Iran to build a democratic modern society. Well, let me tell you something about this Disneyland fantasy. It is not democratic, the turbulent election of Ahmadinejad proved that beyond doubt. It is not modern, it is medieval. And it is barbarity, and the society is broken, oppressed, and abused, and the only way the Iranian people will ever taste freedom again is if we get Mrs. Rajavi and the PMOI into power there, and get rid of the current regime.
I want to say that the most recent clear expression of Iran’s belief in human rights was demonstrated in the film we have just seen in that vicious assault that took place on the 9th of February, when over 45 107-mm rockets were carefully targeted, landing as you saw from the film, in the densely populated area of Camp Liberty, where information had clearly been given from the inside authorities to show which was the best target attack in the middle of the night when people were sleeping defenseless unarmed, civilians asleep, in flimsy trailers, densely packed together with no protection at all, with the T-walls removed before they were allowed to enter Camp Liberty.
This was not as the Iraqi regime would like it to believe, the usual kind of haphazard terrorist attack which is, sadly, a daily occurrence inside Iraq. This was a professionally targeted military exercise and we have the best possible intelligence to prove that. Even Iraqi military experts who went to Camp Liberty following the attack on the morning of the 9th of February examining the way the shells and rockets had landed, concluded that they must have been fired from no further than 3.5 kilometers away. In other words, well within the confines of the highly and intensely guarded military zone that surrounds the whole of Baghdad airport and Camp Liberty.
There is no question that this attack, ordered by mullahs in Tehran, was coordinated by Iraqi authorities from the highest possible office of Nuri al-Maliki himself. And there is no question at all that we have warned repeatedly, as Mrs. Rajavi said in her speech, that this was going to happen. This killing ground was prepared for this purpose.
Now we know from our further intelligence that there were two teams involving Iranians and Iraqis that were sent to carry out this vicious assault. The idea was the first barrage of rockets would be fired and one hour later when many people were rushing around trying to help the dying and injured, the second barrage of 50 rockets would be fired causing maximum carnage. Inadvertently, that second team was arrested by some Iraqi police forces who were not in the loop, who hadn’t been brought in to the confidence of the attack. They were very quickly released and allowed to go back to Iran, after the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office.
And that’s why we know that this was well planned assassination and we have now even seen the man who has taken responsibility for this attack who lives in Najaf, and claims to be the leader of the Mukhatr Battalion which is a well-known part of the Hezbollah in Iraq under the direct jurisdiction of the Iranian Quds Force. In a press conference only a few days ago, he took responsibility and said he was acting directly under the orders of Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei and that there would be further devastating attacks on the people in Camp Liberty.
We were promised when Martin Kobler came to see me in my office at Brussels and see other senior members of the European Parliament; he brought with him a large dossier of photographs to show us what a wonderful concept this Camp Liberty would be and that it was humanitarian and comfortable and would be provided with complete security, all be it, it was rather small, but they would only be there for a few weeks and then they would be taken off the places of safety.
Twice I came here to Geneva to speak to Antonio Guteres and he told me that the concept was to have in his words, a revolving door, where several hundred people would be brought from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty, interviewed by UNHCR, registered as refugees, and immediately taken to countries of safety. And I went to Paris and persuaded Mrs. Rajavi to tell the people of Ashraf that this was their only chance of getting out of Iraq. They had to move to camp Liberty. The UNHCR interviews could not be undertaken at Ashraf. It was a red line for Maliki and the Iraqi government. And against her better judgment, Mrs. Rajavi finally gave in to my insistence and spoke to the people at Ashraf and persuaded them to move, based on the guarantees we have had from Martin Kobler, which now have proved to be completely false. I was deceived, the dossier of photographs had been doctored. We know that on first hand evidence from Taher Boumedra who worked for UN in Baghdad and resigned in disgust at being ordered to doctor these photographs. This is the behavior of the United Nations in Iraq.
I was deceived; my colleagues were deceived; and in turn, we deceived the people of Ashraf, forcing them to make themselves vulnerable targets of assassination and murder. And that is exactly what has happened now and I feel guilty for that.
What do we see as a result? I got a very long letter yesterday from the deputy of Mr. Kobler, Mr. Busztin, telling me that I must persuade all my colleagues, and incidentally he had copied this letter to about 20 of my senior colleagues of the European Parliament, that we must go and tell Mrs. Rajavi to intervene now and persuade these people to continue to allow UNHCR to go on with the interviewing process and the registration process and to cooperate with them. Business as usual. As if no attack had taken place, as if 7 people had not been brutally killed, 10 people dismembered, 90 people critically injured, as if none of this had happened. Despite all of our warnings. Let’s return to business as normal. Please don’t criticize my great friends in the Iraqi government. That would never do.
I can tell you Mrs. Rajavi, that today I advise these people who have been deceived and deceived by me in the past. My advice to them today is stop cooperating with Martin Kobler, stop cooperating with any further interviews with UNHCR, do not allow cherry pickings so that 10, 20, or 30 people can be plucked out and taken to some country of safety, leaving those who remain behind even more vulnerable. Tell them there is no more business as usual. We must get these people out of Camp Liberty where they are in imminent danger of annihilation, all 3,000 of them, and we must get them immediately to a place of safety, and that means temporarily getting them back to Ashraf where because of its size and because of its concrete bunkers and buildings they will be more safe while we find a way of getting all 3,100 of them out of Iraq to another place of safety where the UN can continue their very slow process of registration at their leisure. Until that time, we must get them out.
Three weeks after the vicious assault that killed these people, not a single helmet or armored vest has been allowed into Camp Liberty. They have asked permission to buy shovels so that they can dig bunkers in which they can hide if there’s another missile attack. They have been refused permission even to buy shovels. No T-walls have been brought into the camp. They have been set up in this killing field as lambs to slaughter, and we are sitting here in the 22nd human rights council of the United Nations in the Palais de Nations here in Geneva, sitting here leaving these people, abandoning them to their fate. They have suffered three massacres. They have suffered harassment and abuse. They have been roped, kidnapped, tortured, murdered, denied medical assistance; the graves of the their loved ones have been desecrated in Ashraf, and we sit here in the middle of this human rights conference abandoning them to their fate on the basis of advice from Martin Kobler. Well, I can tell you that is hypocrisy. And Mrs. Rajavi, I am not a hypocrite. Thank you.
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