WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Lives in Peril, Honor on the Line: America's Promise to Protect Camp Ashraf," was the title of a symposium in which several former senior U.S. officials as well as prominent human rights advocates urged the Obama Administration to prevent an impending humanitarian catastrophe at Camp Ashraf, Iraq, home to thousands of members of Iran's main opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
The panelists also rejected the call made jointly by the Iranian regime and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that the residents of Ashraf must give in to relocation inside Iraq without any reliable protection for their safety and security. The fact that the United States and the United Nations have not yet publically and unequivocally dismissed this ominous plan was equally criticized.
The panel included Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law at Harvard University; Governor Howard Dean, Secretary Tom Ridge, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy; Richard Ben-Veniste, former Member of the 9/11 Commission; Robert Joseph, former Under Secretary Of State For Arms Control & International Security; Gen. John "Jack" Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army; and Christian Whiton, former Special Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs.
Prof. Dershowitz said that "the potential war criminals who run the Iranian regime are so anxious to see Camp Ashraf shut down [because] they are planning the mass killing of the largest concentration of witnesses to their crimes in the world today, those who are living in Camp Ashraf in Iraq."
"If the president of the US does not demand a change in the Iraqi government's commitment to close the camp, his silence will be taken as acquiescence, and that is so dangerous, silent acquiescence," he added.
"It does look like we [the United States and the Iraqi government] are in collusion and as long as we continue to designate the MEK as a terrorist organization, the Iraqi government can send these documents around the world just to provide rationalization for the murder of innocent unarmed people on two occasion in Camp Ashraf," emphasized Secretary Ridge, adding, "Even today Martin Kobler was told by the Iraqi government, you must move men and women to another location in Iraq.. Why we are letting this government, for whom we've sacrificed thousands of lives, tell us what to do which is inconsistent with our broader moral obligation to support humanitarian human rights and to keep our promise, which we gave individually to every member of Camp Ashraf, when we also guaranteed them protections under the Geneva Convention."
"The person who is representing the United Nations [in Iraq], made the ridiculous suggestion that the people from Ashraf be redistributed inside Iraq, and that somehow, without any guarantee of protection, either from the United States or the United Nations, they would be fine… Explain to me Martin Kobler, what rationale you give for what you have done which is essentially to sign the execution order for 3500 unarmed civilians," Governor Dean said.
He added, "Mr. President, we do have a responsibility. We gave our word [to Ashraf residents] and we gave it in writing. We have a responsibility. It is a legal responsibility. I do not want my country to be complicit in the carrying out of war crimes, as the Dutch found out in Srebrenica."
Congressman Kennedy stressed that "before Maliki can come to this country, we must make clear that the deadline for Camp Ashraf should be rejected and the UN should be allowed to do their job; that he make sure that not only those residents are treated with dignity and respect, but honored the international law that applies to them… This is a moment for the US to set clear for the rest of the world where it stands…"
SOURCE Iranian American Community of Northern California