Members of U.S. Congress Call for Continued U.S. Protection of Camp Ashraf

Jun 11, 2010, 18:12 ET from U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents

- Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA): "I have difficulty understanding what has the MEK done, anything remotely, in recent times, that causes the MEK to be on that [FTO] list."

- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA): "as the United States begins its withdrawal, we cannot permit that group of people who are enemies to the mullah regime basically to be turned over to the mullahs."

WASHINGTON, June 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a Congressional briefing on Thursday 10 June, 2010, several members of the U.S. House of Representatives emphasized the need for the continued U.S. protection of Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The bi-partisan call was made in light of the announcement by the United States military that the U.S. intends to evacuate Camp Grizzly in Ashraf and turn it over to the Iraqi Security Forces by July 1st. Many members at the briefing, which coincided with the anniversary of the uprising in Iran, also called for the removal of Iran's main opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), from the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).

At the briefing, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, remarked that "The world would be better, and of course Iran would be better, if the people of Iran were able to have a government worthy of their great culture, worthy of their great history. Until then, the folks at Camp Ashraf are in a difficult circumstance and it is critically important that the United States monitor that camp, both today and after July 1st. We cannot allow a human rights catastrophe to occur in Iraq just because we are in the process of leaving."

Referring to the State Department's FTO list and noting that it is "questionable to list on that list entities which are not enemies of the United States but are enemies of the enemies of the United States," the Sherman Oaks lawmaker stated that "I have difficulty understanding what has the MEK done, anything remotely, in recent times, that causes the MEK to be on that list. I do know there is no entity more feared, more hated by the mullahs who run Iran than the MEK, which is perhaps the finest compliment that could be paid to that organization."

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight Subcommittee, noting the "danger right now in Camp Ashraf," stated that "as the United States begins its withdrawal, we cannot permit that group of people who are enemies to the mullah regime basically to be turned over to the mullahs. Rep. Rohrabacher, co-chair of the Iran Human Rights and Democracy Caucus, stressed that "What's the overwriting imperative now is for all of us to stand together united and not let the people of Ashraf or the people of Iran stand alone at anytime against these mullah dictators who threaten not only the freedom of their own people but the peace and stability of the region."

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, referring to the courage of "Those brave souls who stood up against the dictatorial regime, who went to the streets, who went to the rooftops and fell in battle nonviolently," remarked that "We must honor them with the recognition that the resistance movement is freedom fighters who seek only the peace." Noting the impending humanitarian crisis in Camp Ashraf, the legislator from Texas said "Camp Ashraf will not be forgotten. I will continue to press for the safety of those in that Camp even as the Iraqi government changes."

Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, told the briefing that "We are not just watching what takes place in Iran, we're watching what takes place in the country of Iraq, in Camp Ashraf, where other good people, no fault of their own, find themselves housed in a camp." Judge Poe added that "we demand that they be safe, that they not be abused, that they not be kidnapped and tortured, and that they not be taken to other remote places in Iraq or other countries and hidden out, because the world must protect the dignity, the sanctity, and the safety of the people in Camp Ashraf."

Representative Lacy Clay (D-MO), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Information Policy of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said in his remarks that "I have constantly spoken out for human rights and against the brutality and oppression of the current Iranian regime," and concluded his remarks by stating that "freedom for Iran is not a question of if; it is a question of when."

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) of the Judiciary Committee, referring to the suppression of dissidents and families of Camp Ashraf residents in Iran, remarked that "I'm even more horrified that a group that took the lead to fight the dictatorship in Iran, PMOI, is still being targeted and designated as a terrorist group. That is so unjust. And they are still being considered in this designation despite the fact that the EU and Britain have lifted that designation." The California lawmaker stressed that "we have to make sure we protect the people in Camp Ashraf and that we ensure, even with the U.S. leaving, that those residents are protected. They are people who have stood up for what is right and we must make sure that their security is protected."

Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) from the Armed Service Committee remarked that "we are especially outraged when this government has perpetrated these political executions against your own people.  The outrageous killing of even the families of those at Camp Ashraf is beyond my ability to express.  It is a terrible, evil thing and I want you to know that it does not go unnoticed by many of us here in this country."

SOURCE U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents