A Test For U.S. Policy on Iran
A Test For U.S. Policy on Iran
September 2, 2011
Secretary Clinton's decision on the terror label put on the Iranian opposition MEK will have huge impact on innocent refugees in Camp Ashraf
With whispers rife that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will finally decide whether to end a US ban on Iran’s largest opposition group, the Mujahedeen e Khalq (MEK) it is important to assess the consequences of a policy decision made to appease Tehran’s leaders.
The US ban on the MEK which has been in place for 14 years is not only a damning reflection of the commitment to the values on which the Land of Liberty is founded, but has a direct impact on the condition of 3,400 refugees in Camp Ashraf. Camp Ashraf is based in Iraq and is the home to members and supporters of the MEK. It is these residents and the wider opposition movement inside the country upon whom the greatest impact of the ban is felt.
The residents of Camp Ashraf have been attacked by Iraqi forces twice since US forces handed over the duty to protect the Camp to Iraqi authorities, which left over 50 residents dead and over 500 wounded. These attacks have taken place in the background of a two year siege on the camp where even the medical supplies for ill and wounded patients have been denied. Despite international uproar, governments have done very little to stop the attacks and prevent the daily torture carried out by Iranian regime agents. They threaten the residents with death and torture through hundreds of speakers set up around the camp’s perimeters by Iraqi authorities.
Made all the more astonishing because, after multiple US agencies individually interviewed the residents of the camp, they were each provided with personal written statements guaranteeing US protection and granting Protected Persons status under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The US reneged on these guarantees allowing the residents to be massacred. Today, the US ban on the MEK is the biggest hurdle to the Camp Ashraf residents being protected by the UN and safely transferred to third party states where their protection can be guaranteed.
The Iraqi government and its Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki consistently justify their actions by stating that according to the US State Department these refugees are terrorists. They use the label to brutally massacre residents of Camp Ashraf. However, according to the US Congress and the Senate they are not. According to the US Federal Court of Appeals they are not. According to the UK and EU they are not. However, it is the US listing that is still given as the reason behind these attacks; it grants a licence for Maliki to commit these crimes. The humanitarian benefits of delisting the MEK are high and the legal justification is unquestionable. All that remains is the political conviction. How long will it take before the US stops fearing the Iranian regime, stands behind their words and stands up with the protesters being shot at in the street?
Thousands upon thousands of supporters have protested outside the US state department. Each person who attended represents far more thousands of supporters inside Iran! On the 18 June 100,000 people gathered in Paris to support Camp Ashraf and the delisting of the MEK: when will Hillary Clinton listen to the people of America, the people of the world and the people of Iran? She knows every insight that supporters of the MEK have discovered. She knows that Louis Freeh, a prominent supporter and the then head of the FBI, was not consulted when the MEK was listed. She knows that Maryam Rajavi has repeatedly been given statements from many parliaments across the world supporting her and her resistance movement.
105 days the State Department was given to review the designation. 400 days later and the stakes are critically high. It cannot be maintained that the MEK is a terrorist organisation when it has been proved not to be. Secretary of State Clinton, delist the MEK today.
Peter Dyer is a Math Student and human rights activist from Cambridge, UK.