August 15, 2009 VOLUME 63
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
Below is a recent letter from one of our readers which is the most appropriate message for the International Day of Solidarity with Iranian Women from Camp Ashraf to Tehran:
"There are 1000 women in Camp
Ashraf, each one represent a mother, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, but
most importantly for Iran, they are freedom fighters.
One of those courageous women is my mother, Sudabeh Mohammad Taher, who is Camp Ashraf right now, on a hunger strike for the 3rd week.
Growing up, I never understood the depth of the situation my mother had to endure. I always felt like I was alone. I questioned my mother, and wondered how and why she could gave me up! Knowing that I had already lost my father to the brutal regime in the 1988 massacre, I wondered did she not love enough?
It wasn’t until I got older did I realize that it was because she loved me more than I ever knew. She let me go because her love is larger than life. She loves all the children of Iran and her country so much that she would give her only child up to fight for it.
I want you to take a moment and pause, think about a mother’s will power to give her child for the price of freedom and democracy. It is an impossible act but the women of Ashraf have made this an unprecedented and admirable act. They have done this so that others do not have to face oppression and misogynous rules of the Iranian regime. They have done this so that no women in Iran will ever have to face stoning, or rape before the night of execution or fall in to a mullah-made network of human trafficking.
I understand now. Despite all the hardship, I now know and am truly privileged to say that both my parents are Mojahed-e-Khalq (MeK).
As I said earlier, I have already lost one parent to Iran’s dictatorship. I cannot and will not lose another, especially my mother. I will not be robbed of getting to know the only family I have left in Ashraf.
US is obligated to protect them but they broke their promise. Now we will save her and Ashraf. That is my promise."
E-Zan Featured Headlines
The Associated Press - July 16, 2009
Prominent European lawyers brought together by an exiled Iranian group are hoping to punish Iranian leaders in international courts over the recent crackdown on protesters angry over presidential election results.The aim is to "try to break the rule of absolute impunity protecting the leaders currently in place in Tehran," said French lawyer William Bourdon at Thursday's launch of the International Committee of Jurists defending Iranians, which was attended by the leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Maryam Rajavi. The National Council of Resistance of Iran is an umbrella group that includes the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI/MeK). Four of the nine lawyers on the committee have represented NCRI members in European courts. The group includes figures who have worked on prominent human rights-related cases, and Spanish lawyer Juan Garces, who played a lead role in prosecuting Chile's Augusto Pinochet. Bourdon, who has defended Guantanamo Bay prison inmates, insisted the committee will independently pursue its goals. The committee wants more U.N. sanctions against Iran over the protest crackdown, and to be able to pursue Iranian leaders in court if they travel to Europe. International sanctions already imposed on Iran aim at preventing the Islamic Republic from pursuing its nuclear program.The committee plans to consult with the International Criminal Court in The Hague about investigating Iranian leaders for crimes against humanity, lawyer Jean-Pierre Spitzer said. It remained uncertain how the lawyers intended to demonstrate a clear chain of responsibility to charge Iranian leaders for the violence, or whether international courts would accept their requests.
RFE/RL - July 17, 2009
Two Iranian women jailed in Iran's notorious Evin
prison for converting from Islam to Christianity may be executed for apostasy,
RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports. Amir Javadzadeh, a broadcaster for the
London-based Christian radio station Channel of Affection, told Radio Farda that
the two women could be put to death even though "they were not politically
active at all." He said they "just wanted to serve people according to the
Bible." The two women, Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, and Maryam Rustampoor, 27, were
arrested in March, although they "converted to Christianity about 10 years ago,"
Javadzadeh said. He added that they became Christians after "spending a lot of
time studying the religion and helping others." They were held in solitary
confinement for three weeks in May and June.
Amnesty International - July 22, 2009
Reports from Tehran on Tuesday, said that security
forces deployed excessive use of force to counter peaceful demonstrations in
Haft Tir Square, where more arrests were said to have been made. This news is,
according to Amnesty International, a jarring reminder to the international
community that the waves of arrests and killings continue unabated in Iran, as
the authorities tighten their grip. Thirty-six Iranian army officers are among
people reported to have been arrested recently in connection with the disputed
presidential election in Iran. Amnesty International has received the names of
24 of them. Others reported to have been arrested in recent days include
political activists, journalists, academics and lawyers. Amnesty International
said it fears for their safety in detention, as torture or other ill-treatment
of detainees is common in Iran.
Iran Human Rights - July 24, 2009
A woman identified as Sakineh Mohammadi, is in
danger of being stoned to death by the Iranian authorities in the northwestern
Iranian city of Tabriz, wrote the human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei in his
weblog. Mohammad Mostafaei who has taken the responsibility of defending Sekineh
writes: Sekineh Mohammadi who has been in the central prison of Tabriz the last
four years is convicted of adultery. She was previously sentenced to 99 lashes
for adultry and the sentence has already been carried out. Besides the
lashes, she has also been sentenced to death by stoning. The stoning verdict has
been approved by the supreme court and is in the section for implementation of
the verdict, according to Mr. Mostafaei. Mohammad Mostafaei has already written
a letter to head of the Iranian judiciary Mahmoud Shahroudi, asking him to
remove the stoning verdict. According to Mr. Mostafaei, Sekineh is at imminent
danger of death by stoning.
Amnesty International - July 28, 2009
Amnesty International is seriously concerned at
today’s attacks by Iraqi forces on unarmed residents of Camp Ashraf which left
several people injured and led to the arrest of at least eight others. Hundreds
of armed Iraqi security forces are said to have stormed the camp, north of
Baghdad, at around 3pm local time. They used tear gas, water canons and batons
against unarmed Iranian residents who tried to stop them from entering the
camp.Video footage seen by Amnesty International clearly shows Iraqi forces
beating people repeatedly on different parts of the body, including the head.
Dozens of people are said to have been injured.
The Washington Post - July 29, 2009
Clashes between Iraqi troops and members of an
Iranian opposition group continued Wednesday morning after a bloody raid Tuesday
on the opposition group's camp, which had been sheltered by the U.S. military
when it oversaw security in Iraq.The attack was the Iraqi government's boldest
move since it declared its sovereignty a month ago and the latest sign that
American influence is waning as Iranian clout rises. Behzad Saffari, one of the
leaders at the camp, said Wednesday that the camp's clinic is running out of
supplies and does not have the equipment to treat residents with critical
injuries. Residents, he added, are worried that soldiers will storm into their
living quarters. "This is our main fear, that that is the next step," he said.
"We have over 1,000 women here. That is now our main concern."
The NCRI Website - July 31, 2009
Iraqi suppressive forces, which have surrounded and occupied Camp Ashraf, have been looting and stealing resident-owned vehicles.At about 18:00 local time today, Iraqi forces attacked women residents of Ashraf who sought to prevent them from stealing a truck. The forces used tear gas, fired bullets into the air, threw sonic and smoke grenades, and beat the women with sticks and stones. However, the brave women overcame the agents’ attacks and took possession of the vehicle, thus preventing it to fall into the hands of the clerical regime’s cronies. One of the women, Fatemeh Jafari, was injured after being hit in her chest by a stone thrown by the Iraqi agents. Moreover, Mohammad Kangi, Faraj Afshar, Bahman Abedi, and Abdolreza Kalantar, who had come to the aid of these women under fire, were wounded as a result of the sonic and smoke grenades hurled by the killers of the Iranian people’s sons and daughters. In the first two days of the agents’ attack, dozens of vehicles belonging to Ashraf residents, including 12 IFA trucks, 9 Jeep Land Cruisers, 2 Mitsubishi minibuses, 1 Land Cruiser, 1 Nissan Sedan, 2 water and fuel tankers, 1 crane, 1 truck, 1 bulldozer, and 3 loaders were stolen by the suppressive thieves. Thus far, close to one hundred vehicles and various kinds of ambulances, IFA vehicles, cranes, and cars have been damaged by the agents and are no longer operational.
The Reuters News Agency - August 5, 2009
Iraqi authorities are blocking supplies of food and
water going into a camp east of Baghdad where Iranian exiles have been living
for over 20 years, Swiss- based human rights activists said on Wednesday. The
activists, including senior U.N. expert Jean Ziegler, said they feared a
repetition of what they called a brutal attack on the camp by Iraqi special
forces on July 28 when at least 7 residents died and many others were injured.
"Preventing people getting food is a gross violation of international law ...
This has been going on for 10 days. It is totally scandalous," Ziegler, a top
adviser to the U.N. Human Rights Council, told a news conference. Eric Sottas,
General Secretary of the Geneva-based World Organisation against Torture (OMCT),
deplored what he called "a sort of passivity on the part of international
bodies" over events around the camp, home to some 3,500 people. "Unless these
unarmed and defenceless people are properly protected, this could happen again,
perhaps worse," he said.The two called on the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) to establish a presence in Ashraf, which houses members of the
anti-Tehran People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) and their families.
E-Zan Featured Reports
Hundreds may have died in Iranian clashes
after poll, say human rights campaigners
Woman claims to have seen piles of corpses
July 16, 2009
"In one case, a family reported receiving their son's corpse encased in concrete to hide signs of injuries."
Hundreds more people may have died in Iran's
post-election unrest than the authorities have admitted, amid allegations that
the death toll has been obscured by hiding victims' bodies in secret morgues.
Human rights campaigners say anecdotal evidence suggests the number of demonstrators killed in clashes with government forces after last month's poll was far higher than the official death toll of 20 and may amount to a "massacre".
Suspicions have been fuelled after one woman described seeing corpses piled on top of each other in a refrigeration depot while searching for a missing relative. Another woman was shown pictures of between 50 and 60 people, all said to have died, while searching for her son.
The claims came as Tehran prepares for another day of tension tomorrow when the influential former president Hashemi Rafsanjani addresses Friday prayers at Tehran University. Hardline supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – who was controversially re-elected in the election on 12 June that opponents say was "stolen" – have threatened to disrupt the event, at which Rafsanjani is expected to speak in support of his ally Mir Hossein Mousavi, the defeated reformist candidate, who will attend the event.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran accused the government of obfuscating casualty numbers by frightening victims' families into silence. The true picture had emerged from hospital statistics and testimony from families who refused to keep quiet, it said.
"It's hard to put a figure on it because most of the
families involved are scared to talk," Aaron Rhodes of the campaign told the
Guardian. "But if you put together the evidence of the families that have
spoken, along with eyewitness reports and data from hospitals, there could be
well over a hundred fatalities."
The campaign said that on 20 June – the day after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that the demonstrations must stop – three Tehran hospitals placed a total of 34 dead demonstrators in their morgues.
The authorities put that day's fatalities at 11. Doctors have reported being stopped from signing death certificates by military commanders, who then ordered the corpses removed.
The security forces have acknowledged carrying out more than 2,000 arrests during the crackdown on the mass protests against Ahmadinejad's re-election. Some detainees have been released but many are still unaccounted for.
The Norooz website – linked to Iran's largest reformist party, the Islamic Participation Front – described how a mother searching for her missing child was sent to a facility normally used for preserving fruit and dairy produce on the outskirts of Tehran. After leafing through a photograph album of presumed victims, she was shown into a room containing what she described as "hundreds" of dead bodies. "Although I didn't find my child's body, on seeing all those corpses dumped on top of each other, I passed out," the unnamed woman said.
Mousavi showed solidarity with relatives of the dead earlier this week when he visited the home of Sohrab Aarabi, 19, whose body was recovered nearly a month after he died of gunshot wounds at a mass demonstration in Tehran on 15 June.
Aarabi's mother, Parvin Fahimi – a member of an organisation called Mothers for Peace – has described how after weeks of searching for her son she was summoned by a revolutionary court and shown pictures of between 50 and 60 people, all said to have died. The pictures included Sohrab, whom she had previously thought might be in detention.
Some families have reported being harassed into signing pledges agreeing that their loved ones died accidentally or of natural causes. Others say they have been forced to declare that the victims belonged to the Basij militia, which was used to suppress the demonstrations.
In one case, a family reported receiving their son's corpse encased in concrete to hide signs of injuries.
'I wed Iranian girls before execution'
Jul. 19, 2009
By Sabina Amidi
The Jerusalem Post
In a shocking and unprecedented interview, directly exposing the inhumanity of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's religious regime in Iran, a serving member of the paramilitary Basiji militia has told this reporter of his role in suppressing opposition street protests in recent weeks.
He has also detailed aspects of his earlier service in the force, including his enforced participation in the rape of young Iranian girls prior to their execution.
The interview took place by telephone, and on condition of anonymity. It was arranged by a reliable source whose identity can also not be revealed.
Founded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 as a "people's militia," the volunteer Basiji force is subordinate to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and intensely loyal to Khomeini's successor, Khamenei.
The Basiji member, who is married with children, spoke soon after his release by the Iranian authorities from detention. He had been held for the "crime" of having set free two Iranian teenagers - a 13-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl - who had been arrested during the disturbances that have followed the disputed June presidential elections.
"There have been many other police and members of the security forces arrested because they have shown leniency toward the protesters out on the streets, or released them from custody without consulting our superiors," he said.
He pinned the blame for much of the most ruthless violence employed by the Iranian security apparatus against opposition protesters on what he called "imported security forces" - recruits, as young as 14 and 15, he said, who have been brought from small villages into the bigger cities where the protests have been centered.
"Fourteen and 15-year old boys are given so much power, which I am sorry to say they have abused," he said. "These kids do anything they please - forcing people to empty out their wallets, taking whatever they want from stores without paying, and touching young women inappropriately. The girls are so frightened that they remain quiet and let them do what they want."
These youngsters, and other "plainclothes vigilantes," were committing most of the crimes in the names of the regime, he said.
Asked about his own role in the brutal crackdowns on the protesters, whether he had been beaten demonstrators and whether he regretted his actions, he answered evasively.
"I did not attack any of the rioters - and even if I had, it is my duty to follow orders," he began. "I don't have any regrets," he went on, "except for when I worked as a prison guard during my adolescence."
Explaining how he had come to join the volunteer Basiji forces, he said his mother had taken him to them.
When he was 16, "my mother took me to a Basiji station and begged them to take me under their wing because I had no one and nothing foreseeable in my future. My father was martyred during the war in Iraq and she did not want me to get hooked on drugs and become a street thug. I had no choice," he said.
He said he had been a highly regarded member of the force, and had so "impressed my superiors" that, at 18, "I was given the 'honor' to temporarily marry young girls before they were sentenced to death."
In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a "wedding" ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard - essentially raped by her "husband."
"I regret that, even though the marriages were legal," he said.
Why the regret, if the marriages were "legal?"
"Because," he went on, "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.
"I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over," he said. "I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her."
Returning to the events of the last few weeks, and his decision to set free the two teenage detainees, he said he "honestly" did not know why he had released them, a decision that led to his own arrest, "but I think it was because they were so young. They looked like children and I knew what would happen to them if they weren't released."
He said that while a man is deemed "responsible for his own actions at 13, for a woman it is 9," and that it was freeing the 15-year-old girl that "really got me in trouble.
"I was not mistreated or really interrogated while being detained," he said. "I was put in a tiny room and left alone. It was hard being isolated, so I spent most of my time praying and thinking about my wife and kids."
Horrific Stories of Iranian Militia Tell of
July 20, 2009
By Malkah Fleisher
Horrific stories are now being released of the
crushing hand of Iran's state militia, used against citizens opposed to the rule
of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and especially
Since the re-election of Ahmadinejad in late June, which was protested by many anti-Islamic Revolutionary Iranians as fixed, protests have swept through the Iranian capital city of Tehran and the rest of the country, demanding a recount of votes and the appointment of opposition presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi as president of Iran.
Yet that is not what has happened. With Ahmadinejad's victory declared official, paramilitary mercenaries loyal to Khamenei have taken to the streets, terrorizing citizens and beating protesters, some to the point of death.
Amateur videos attributed to Iranian students have saturated internet video sharing sites. One, showing the street shooting and slow death of female student and protester Neda Soltan, has come to symbolize the violent and oppressive Iranian regime.
The Basij militia, founded by First Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini in 1979, are being heavily employed to instill fear in protestors. Receiving their orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, they are ardently loyal to the current religious leader, Khameini.
Populated primarily by youth seeking official benefits, the organization has not just been employed to crack down on anti-government actions, but generally enforces strict dress and social codes against women as well as spying out immoral conduct such as the distribution of anti-government propaganda or the possession of satellite dishes.
Reports are now surfacing that on June 14, Basiji militants broke into the dormitories of Tehran University against Iranian law, terrorizing students and murdering five of them. In a report by Britain's Guardian newspaper, 133 students were snatched from their beds in the middle of the night, following a severe beating of several students in front of the main gate to the university during the day.
Basiji militants broke into the dormitories of Tehran University against Iranian law, terrorizing students and murdering five of them.
Approximately a quarter of them were taken to the basement of the Interior Ministry where vote counting was taking place. The rest were taken to a security police building, some reporting mistreatment and others torture.
Five students died during the attack, being beaten repeatedly on the head with electric batons and buried the next day without notification to their families, according to the Guardian. After they were informed, families were warned not to mention their children or hold funerals, as was the case with the family of Soltan.
It is not yet possible to ascertain the number of injuries and casualties sustained by protestors, as hospitals and medical personnel have been forbidden from publicizing the facts. However, casualty estimates by human rights organizations have reached as high as 500, a far cry from the government's toll of 20.
Not only do the Basiji exemplify the iron hand of Iran's religious leadership, but also its sordid morality. A sobering interview with an anonymous veteran Basiji militant published last week in the Jerusalem Post reveals the complicity of religious authorities in years of rape of female prisoners, deemed "marriages" by prison mullahs.
Basiji youth frequently perform street thefts and sexual assaults against girls too frightened to protest, said the source.
But once behind bars and sentenced to execution, young women are "married" to Basiji prison guards, who rape them the evening prior to their deaths.
Iranian law forbids the execution of virgins, regardless of their crimes. Non-consensual prison marriages are therefore performed to enable the state to execute the female criminals.
According to the source, young women are frequently drugged on their wedding nights, because of their fear. In the morning, said the anonymous Basiji, girls seem more ready to die.
Laws against Iranian women, while not seen to be as harsh as those promulgated against Saudi women and others in the Islamic world, are still disproportionately strict. Punishments for crimes such as adultery occasionally result in public stonings, though the practice was officially banned in 2002. In such cases, women are guilty until proven innocent – for men accused of adultery, the opposite is true.
Women Fight for Freedom in the Iranian Resistance
July 23, 2009
Women in International Prespective (WIP.net)
As an Iranian woman living in exile, I am interested in sharing the history and experiences of the women's movement against the Mullah regime in Iran. Educated in Germany, I now live in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, home to 3,400 Iranian dissidents including 1,000 women. I hope to share more information about the lives and activities of Iranian women inside Iran and also those who are living currently in Camp Ashraf. I hope to give a voice to the brave men and women in Iran who are struggling against the religious dictatorship and who cry for freedom.
Women have occupied a significant leading role in our movement against the religious fundamentalism in Iran and the misogyny that it perpetuates. The difficult circumstances, the traditional environment in Iranian society and the mullahs' vehement and misogynistic savagery has served as an obstacle for women to stay active, but by virtue of their successful struggle in the past decades, Iranian women of all ages and backgrounds have found their place at the forefront of the resistance.
Tens of thousands of these women were killed and many more tortured in the clerical regime's prisons. Some who survived are now among the women residing in Camp Ashraf, full of energy and experience for bringing freedom and equality to the people of Iran.
Besides their crucial role in the organized resistance, women also became indispensable to most expressions of anti-government protest across the nation. The recent Iranian people's uprising clearly showed the tremendous potential of Iranian women as leaders in the fight against the country’s fundamentalism. Not only do they enjoy absolute equal rights in the resistance, but they have also overturned the male dominated value system by taking on key positions of leadership and management. Women account for more than half the members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the parliament in exile, and all of the Iranian Democratic Opposition's (PMOI) leadership council.
Taking into account the background, history and culture of Iranian society, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran has emphasized her views on women’s rights in a free Iran as follows:
In the future Iran, all personal freedoms concerning women have to be recognized, including the freedom to choose one's clothing, freedom of opinion, religion, employment and travel
Complete gender equality in social, political, cultural and economic arenas
An equal share in the society's political leadership
Complete freedom to choose husbands
Equal rights to divorce
An end to polygamy
The criminalization of all forms of physical, sexual and psychological violence against women in the work place, educational centers, households and elsewhere
Legal recourse for victims of violence
The banning of sexual exploitation under whatever pretext
The drafting of civil laws based on international conventions about the rights and freedoms of women, specifically the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women
These are the freedoms that we fight for and this is
what all women of Iran deserve.
Moral Outrage at Camp Ashraf
Canada Free Press
by Clare M. Lopez
July 29, 2009
It’s a new era, alright: an era in which America’s moral compass is spinning aimlessly. While on an official visit to Baghdad Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and top U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, hailed a new era in Iraq and touted an improved security situation at the one-month mark since U.S. troops pulled back from Iraqi cities and towns at the end of June.
But even as the two crowed (along with their Iraqi counterparts), Iraqi police forces were assaulting the civilian population of Ashraf City north of Baghdad, home to some 3900 unarmed members of the Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK). At day’s end, the MEK death count stood at four, while the injured numbered in the hundreds, and dozens more had been snatched and carried off by the Iraqi forces.
The Iraqi assault, captured in graphic videos posted to YouTube, advanced with armored vehicles, front-loaders, fire engines, police vehicles, and other equipment and unleashed boiling water, pepper gas, barrages from water cannons, clubs, and eventually live fire against the unarmed inhabitants. YouTube footage shows MEK members massed passively at an entrance gate to the camp as Iraqi police beat those in front furiously with clubs and then sprayed pepper gas and water cannon directly into the crowd. Other films show police opening fire with assault weapons while the group began to chant “Allahu Akbar,” echoing the recent calls of their demonstrating compatriots on the streets of Tehran and elsewhere.
The MEK has been fighting tyranny and despotism in Iran since the group arose in the 1960’s on Iran’s university campuses to oppose the autocratic rule of the Shah. From the 1980s until the U.S. launched Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in March 2003, they had waged a desperate battle against the mullahs’ despotic regime from Iraqi soil where they took refuge after the Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution turned on the allies that had helped him topple the monarchy.
In the early days of OIF, American forces bombarded MEK camps, despite not being attacked first or taking a single shot in return. A ceasefire and MEK disarmament agreement culminated in 2004 with U.S. extension of Fourth Geneva Convention protections to the group, which had been exhaustively and individually investigated in the interim by a U.S. interagency panel and found completely innocent of any criminal or terrorist wrongdoing.
In this 2004 action, the U.S. declared the MEK members in Ashraf “protected persons” under the Geneva Conventions. This makes us responsible -- morally and legally -- for their safety.
U.S. forces honored their protective commitment up until the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), approved by the Iraqi government in late 2008, began to enter into force. In recent weeks, however, as the Iraqi government moved closer to assuming independent security control across the country, the U.S. has stood by passively as Iraqis, almost certainly acting on behalf of the Tehran regime, repeatedly blocked shipments of food, water, and medicines to Ashraf. As yesterday’s brutal assault unfolded, Odierno, speaking in Baghdad, observed blandly that Iran was employing "soft power" in a bid to shape Iraqi politics.
Amnesty International, the U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents, Maryam Rajavi, head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and supporters across the world issued calls to the international community, the U.S. government, and President Barack Obama personally to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Ashraf.
(The homepage of the Department of State, meanwhile, contained a selection of pieces about Hillary Clinton’s recent travels in Asia, an upcoming trip planned for Africa, and some commentary about North Korea and Russia -- but not a single word about the savage attack by the police forces of our Iraqi protégé against courageous and completely unarmed Iranian civilians who have dedicated their lives for the last 30 years to the cause of freedom and democracy in their homeland. From the U.S.’s new Ambassador to Baghdad, Christopher Hill, not a word. From the administration’s new Iran specialist on the National Security Council, Ambassador Dennis Ross, not a word.
The official U.S. government reaction -- in the face of massive street protests across Iran after June 2009 presidential elections widely seen as fraudulent -- was to stand by passively, issuing mild expressions of concern about “the violence” as regime thugs clubbed, gassed, knifed, and shot unarmed demonstrators on the streets. Now, again, this administration is showing itself to be an enemy of those who stand for their liberty against the forces of tyranny. Desperate to achieve some kind of negotiations with the mullahs’ regime about its nuclear weapons program, the Obama administration seems not only oblivious to repeated public snubs from Tehran, but blind to the reality that this regime is unraveling before our eyes and has lost all domestic and international legitimacy.
Earlier this month, in yet another demonstration of abasement to the ayatollahs, the U.S. released Qods Force commanders who’d been captured and held in Irbil, Iraq since January 2007, when they were caught red-handed planning, coordinating, and executing attacks with Iranian-trained Shi’ite “Special Groups” terror militias that have killed hundreds of U.S. forces.
This is an administration that simply has no moral compass. Let the world be on notice: the leader of the free world has abdicated and instead now seeks outreach with thugs, terrorists, and rogue regimes around the world.
North Korea lurches toward regime succession by setting off nuclear tests, proliferating nuclear expertise to Syria, and launching missiles in the direction of Japan and Hawaii -- but the Obama administration thinks more economic enticements should turn them right around.
Tiny, brave Honduras defends its constitution by removing a president in league with Venezuelan caudillo Chavez -- and the State Department is now busy revoking its diplomats’ visas.
Oppressed Iranian citizens at last turn against a regime that has tortured and terrorized them for three decades -- and the American president says he’s “appalled and outraged,” but can’t really be sure who actually won those elections. Besides, he still hopes the mullahs will accept his outstretched hand one of these days and sit down to a civilized discussion about why they should end development of nuclear weapons instead of continuing plans to wipe our erstwhile friend and ally Israel off the face of the map.
The United States disarmed the MEK in Camp Ashraf and then promised -- under the Geneva Conventions -- to protect them. Yet we stand by while they are being murdered. How can this be, America?
TIMING IS TELLING IN CAMP ASHRAF CRACKDOWN
By Georgie Anne Geyer
Aug 4, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Being a foreign correspondent brings you face-to-face with some distinctly odd and surprising overseas news sources, and in the fall of 1981, I paid an unlikely visit to one of these.
I took a car from the Paris airport that day to Auvers-Sur-Oise, a leafy, upscale suburb of the City of Light, to see an impressive young Iranian thinker and political figure, probably then in his 40s, who was the leader of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq or the "People's Strugglers." His name was Massoud Rajavi, and he was highly "wanted" back home in Iran.
Remember, this was only two years after the cruel and harshly Islamic regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini had taken over from a destroyed Shah of Iran, a year after the American hostages were taken in Tehran, and only shortly after Rajavi's "Strugglers" had originally supported Khomeini.
In his brother's simple middle-class apartment, I found a slight young man, maybe 5 foot 7, with a handsome face and the kind of intense manner one finds easily in the passionate history of Persia. As he talked, I found him to be one of the most intelligent, persuasive and rational leaders I had met. His eyes flashed and his words sparkled. It was easy to see the leader in him, and when I asked him what guarantee he could give me that his group would not govern as oppressively as Khomeini or the shah, he answered soberly:
"I only draw your attention to our practical record. Our movement has behind us 17 years of fighting, and for what? For democracy and for independence! Khomeini asked us many times to rule with him. If we were not a sincere generation, we could be with Khomeini, ruling."
Reliable neutral sources told me at the time that there were some 25,000 of his guerrillas fighting against the retrogressive Persian Islamic Shiite state, and that they were intellectually the "best and the brightest," ideologically leftist, authoritarian and Muslim, with power flowing from a central committee to cells. Khomeini had executed 3,000 of them, but every year hundreds of thousands demonstrated on their behalf across Europe.
And then we come to last week and to the mujahedeen's compound, Camp Ashraf, on the outskirts of Baghdad. The key to this puzzle lies in the fact that the camp, where several thousand mujahedeen moved from Paris to fight against Khomeini in the 1980s, has been protected by American troops for the last six years. The mujahedeen, after all, had provided Washington with highly classified information on Tehran's nuclear program, and over the years, Washington kept alternating between defending the organization and placing it on its terrorist list. But now something new and revealing was happening.
The last week of July, after promising the U.S. it would not attack the mujahedeen, the U.S.-installed and largely Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved into the camp -- with troops and guns and ne'er a whisper of restraint! Reports are that at least 12 have been killed and some 500 wounded. American officials bitterly complained and at least one U.S. Army captain got into a shouting match with an Iraqi officer at the camp's gates after the Iraqis banned pesky journalists from speaking with the mujahedeen.
This, to talk plainly, is what Shiite Tehran wants -- to get rid of these Rajavi guys once and for all -- and more and more, "our" al-Maliki government is showing that it is more pro-Iranian Shiite and less a "united" government of Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Christians and other minorities that exists only in the Americans' utopian minds. But really, why should anyone have been surprised?
In fact, one has to hand it to al-Maliki, with his bland, expressionless visage and manner. When we put him in and got him elected, the American criticism of him was that he didn't do anything. Now that we are leaving, he is suddenly doing everything. Since early spring, he and his Iraqi Army have been arresting dozens of Iraqi Sunnis, former anti-American dissidents whom the U.S. military had successfully organized into a pro-American "Awakening" movement.
To win over the Awakening members was rightly considered an American "victory" at the time. But now the Shiites in the government's Dawa Party are systematically disbanding these Sunni organizations, while at the same time, upping the ante on an increasingly dangerous fight with the Kurds in the north over the Kirkuk oilfields.
As Anthony Shadid, the excellent Washington Post correspondent, wrote this week: "Maliki seems to be playing an aggressive game with the Americans as well. No one missed the fact that the raid on the camp began as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived in Iraq -- either a sign of poor planning on Maliki's part or disregard for the U.S. reaction."
And so, ironically, just as the mad mullahs of Tehran are busy putting on trial dozens of the reformers in the recent street demonstrations against the government, "our" government in Baghdad will soon almost surely be sending the mujahedeen, who only have Iranian passports, back to prison and very likely death in Tehran.
What a quiet man, this al-Maliki! He couldn't seem to move one foot after the other in his first days as leader or barely even stay awake. Yet now he's emerging as the newest anti-American Iraqi strongman in a long historic line. Saddam Hussein was never one for small talk, either -- but at least he didn't sell out his country.
US embassy hunger strikers defiant
By John McManus
August 15, 2009
Hunger strikers protesting outside the US embassy in London say they will stay there until their demands are met - until the death, if necessary.
Ten protestors from the Iranian community have been refusing food for 19 days, and one woman has already received treatment in hospital.
The group wants the US government to take responsibility for a refugee camp in Iraq called Ashraf, which houses more than 3,000 members of the Iranian opposition group, the People's Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI), or Mojahedin-e Khalq.
The hunger strikers are all laid out on camp beds under an awning, directly opposite the embassy's main entrance.
Most of them are huddled under blankets, though a few are watching television pictures of what they say is violence by Iraqi police inside Ashraf.
A few who left their beds appeared to walk with difficulty, and looked pale and tired.
'Axes and chains'
Farzaneh Hosseini is a spokesperson for the hunger strikers, of whom her father is one. They are drinking fluids but are prepared to continue refusing food for as long as necessary, she said.
Her sister and two aunts are among the residents in Ashraf, though she hasn't heard from them in weeks. They fled to Ashraf after their brothers were executed for involvement in opposition demonstrations.
The camp was recently raided by Iraqi forces who say they were trying to establish a police presence. Camp residents said several people were killed.
Farzaneh disputes the reasons that the Iraqi government gave for entering the camp.
“ We have all the evidence showing our people were injured and killed ” Zohreh Moalemi Hunger striker
"They already had police posts outside the camp, it was already surrounded. There's no justification for carrying axes and chains and beating people to death."
Another woman, Zohreh Moalemi, who is on hunger strike, added: "We have all the evidence showing our people were injured and killed."
The people in Ashraf want the current Iranian regime overthrown, said Farzaneh.
She wants the US government to take over control of the camp and guarantee the safety of its residents, otherwise the Iraqi administration will close the camp and forcibly return them to Iran.
"The Iranian regime has a major influence in Iraqi affairs and senior Iraqi officials are determined to comply with the wishes of their Iranian counterparts."
Formed in 1965 to oppose the Shah, the People's Mujahideen of Iran soon developed its own philosophy combining Marxism and radical Islam. Now, it advocates a secular government.
The group took part in the Islamic Revolution and some members stood in the 1980 general elections. But they soon fell foul of the new Islamic regime and some of its original leaders were executed.
The PMOI set up a base in Ashraf camp in the 1980s. The exiles' presence was welcomed by former president, Saddam Hussein, who was fighting a war against Iran at the time.
He funded and armed the PMOI's military wing, the National Liberation Army of Iran, which fought alongside Iraqi troops.
Fighting with the Iranians were members of the two main Iraqi Shia political groups which now lead the country's government.
During the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the camp at Ashraf was bombed by coalition forces. PMOI leaders eventually agreed a ceasefire and its members were disarmed.
The US then handed responsibility for the camp to the Iraqi government earlier this year.
“ The US government doesn't have the legal right to take over Ashraf ”
US embassy spokesman
Relations between Iran and Iraq have improved, and the Iraqi government has repeatedly vowed to close the camp.
On the 28 July, Iraqi forces entered the camp, and the PMOI says that nine people were killed, and many more injured.
Although the PMOI has been removed from the UK's register of proscribed terrorist organisations, it remains on the US list.
The US government claims that the National Liberation Army was funded by Saddam Hussein until 2003, but the group says it gave up violent struggle in 2001.
US embassy spokesman Matt Gosho confirmed that although officials have not met with any of the protestors on their doorstep, their counterparts in Baghdad are engaging with the Iraqi government to ensure the Ashraf residents are treated humanely.
"The US government doesn't have the legal right to take over Ashraf... it remains a sovereign issue for Iraq."
But the hunger strikers, who are approaching the end of their third week of protests, are adamant they won't leave until their demand are met.