Outside View: Time to listen to Iranian voices for freedom

By KEN MAGINNIS, UPI Outside View Commentator
Iranians gather at Freedom Square in Tehran, Iran on February 11, 2012. UPI/Maryam Rahmanian
Iranians gather at Freedom Square in Tehran, Iran on February 11, 2012. UPI/Maryam Rahmanian | License Photo

LONDON, July 6 (UPI) -- How big does a rally have to be before the world takes notice? Will the voices of 100,000 protesters reach across the Atlantic? Around this number of Iranian expatriates gathered in Paris last Saturday to show their support for the Iranian resistance and their determination to bring freedom, democracy and justice to a country that has suffered far too long under the dictatorship of the mullahs.

It was the largest anti-regime demonstrations ever organized and brought together Iranians from across the world, both the young and the old. Around 500 parliamentarians, ministers and dignitaries from Europe and America came to support the rally and its organizers, the People's Mujahedin of Iran.


From the United States came Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York; Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and Judge Michael Mukasey, U.S. attorney general in the Bush administration. From France came Philippe Douste-Blazy, the former French foreign minister. There were a dozen members of the U.K. Parliament including David Amess and Brian Binley and the Lords Maginnis, Clarke and Cotter to name but a few. There, too, was Rita Sussmuth, former president of the German Bundestag, and Emma Bonino, vice president of Italian Senate.


While the U.S. delegation was probably the largest, there were representatives from Ireland to Colombia, Romania, Albania and even San Marino.

The collective grievances of the expatriates were put into words by Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the Iranian Resistance. She was particularly critical of the U.S. State Department, which, she said, had "trampled upon justice" by refusing to remove the PMOI from the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations.

"Was it not you who fed an assortment of lies, fabricated by the Iranian regime's Ministry of Intelligence, to some U.S. news outlets in order to justify maintaining this label?" she asked of the State Department. "Was they not your anonymous officials who repeatedly churned out false claims against the People's Mujahedin?"

The fight to remove the PMOI from the terror list has reached the U.S. courts, where June 1 judges gave the Obama administration until Oct. 1 to follow Europe's lead in removing the PMOI from the terror list decide whereby recognizing the PMOI as the legitimate Iranian opposition.

As part of its policy of appeasement toward the Iranian regime, the U.S. State Department resorted to lying and defaming the PMOI and its supporters in court. To justify maintaining the terror designation, the attorney for the State Department claimed that PMOI supporters in Iraq's Camp Ashraf might be hiding weapons -- allegations dismissed out of hand by those same U.S. military officers who guarded the camp during the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein.


"What kind of modus operandi governs such departments, whose officials have free rein to break the law and resort to fabrications and slander?" asked Rajavi.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will have the final say on the terror designation.

"It is my hope that Secretary Clinton would turn this oppressive and unfair page in the history of the U.S. policy and personally bring an end to this unlawful designation," the president-elect said.

The plight of the Camp Ashraf refugees, and their friends and relatives in neighboring Camp Liberty, is another priority for the Iranian resistance.

Tehran, which has enormous political sway over Baghdad in the post-U.S. vacuum, is terrified at the thought of having PMOI supporters on its doorstep. The two regimes therefore hatched a plan to massacre the 3,400 men, women and children who had made Ashraf their home or force them to surrender by the end of last year.

It was only after an international campaign orchestrated by the PMOI that Iraqi troops were refrained from storming Camp Ashraf and killing unarmed refugees, as they had done on two previous occasions.

The Iraqi government is now insisting that all Camp Ashraf residents be transferred to Camp Liberty, a former U.S. military base near Baghdad that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has turned into something resembling a concentration camp.


What was supposed to be a voluntary relocation became a forcible transfer," Rajavi told the rally.

The agreement struck between the Iraqi government and the United Nations covering the transfer had been repeatedly flouted, she said. The United States had "abandoned its commitment" to protect Ashraf residents and was guilty of "hollow promises."

There have been 37 rounds of talks between the international community and Iran. Over the decade since the mullahs' nuclear ambitions were uncovered, these talks have not resulted in any progress. On the contrary, the regime is suspected of stockpiling at least 200 kilograms of enriched uranium every month.

Rather than do everything in its power to appease Tehran and hamper the efforts of the Iranian resistance, the United States should be supporting the PMOI and its aim of regime change in Iran. It is time for the United States and the world to listen to Iranian voices for freedom -- the voices that were joined in such depth and such harmony by democrats from throughout Europe and farther afield in Paris on June 23.


(Kenneth Maginnis, Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, is a member of the British upper chamber, the House of Lords. He was the Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone from 1983 to 2001.)



(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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