SPEECH TO PMOI/NCRI SUPPORTERS
DEN HAAG, THE NETHERLANDS
SAT. 5thMARCH, 2016
Ladies & Gentlemen,
Thank you so much for coming to this event today. It is my great privilege to be here and to talk to you about my experience in the European Parliament in my former role as President of the Delegation for Relations with Iraq. I also want to talk about my many years of friendship and collaboration with the PMOI and the book I have written recounting those years.
When I was writing ‘SELF-SACRIFICE – Life With the Iranian Mojahedin', I spent some time interviewing people who had been imprisoned and tortured because of their support for the PMOI. One woman I interviewed was Hengameh Haj Hassan. She had been a nurse in Tehran in the 1980s when she was arrested and thrown into the notorious Evin Prison. She told me that one night she and her cellmates were awakened by the sound of a lorry tipping a load of gravel in the prison courtyard. It wasn’t gravel. It was the roar of machine guns as dozens of young prisoners were executed. She said that they soon learned to count the sound of the individual gunshots as each prisoner was given the coup de grâce. Some nights she counted hundreds of shots. Hengameh was imprisoned and brutally tortured for supporting the People’s Mojahedin of Iran – the main Opposition to the fascist theocracy. But she was one of the lucky ones who survived. Over 30,000 of her friends and colleagues were executed.
I wrote this book to tell their story; a story of oppression and medieval brutality at the hands of the tyrants who rule Iran.
During my time as President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq and I was able to visit the region and see for myself the abject failure of the West’s policy of appeasement to the Iranian mullahs and their marionettes in Iraq.
Now that I’ve retired from frontline politics I can expose the truth, such as the Iraqi government’s repeated attempts to annihilate the defenceless PMOI refugees in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, under the guidance of the Iranian regime, while the US, UN and EU stands back apathetically and watches, in a classic act of betrayal.
During his first 500 days in office as Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi had one clear opportunity to display his humanitarian principles and show the world that he could act outwith the control of Tehran.
He could have provided full protection for the 2,000 Iranian refugees still incarcerated in Camp Liberty near Baghdad. He could have cooperated with Western efforts to have these people airlifted to countries of safety. Instead, because Tehran wishes to annihilate these unarmed civilians whom they regard as the key focus of opposition to their fascist regime, Abadi took no action to improve security and accelerate the relocation process.
For example he did not allow the residents to sell their property that they were forced to leave behind in Ashraf, which is now serving the Iraqi government as a military base. Neither did he try to compensate them for it. These properties have a total value of more than $5.5 million dollars. This theft of the Iranian refugees’ property is something that was initiated by Maliki and is still going on.Abadi did not oppose the imprisonment and oppression of these refugees in appalling conditions. He allowed their persecution to continue and he did not prevent repeated rocket attacks launched from well inside Iraq’s own military security perimeter, which have caused horrific death and injury to the camp’s inhabitants.
Since the American occupying forces transferred control and jurisdiction for the residents of Ashraf to the Iraqi government under Nouri al-Maliki seven years ago, there has been a constant state of intense siege imposed by the Iraqi government, which continues to this day. This siege involves the complete imprisonment of the residents of Camp Liberty in a small compound vulnerable to repeated rocket attacks, a sporadic blockade against fuel, food and essential equipment, a determined resistance by the Iraqi authorities against the provision of protective concrete T-walls inside the camp, a medical blockade that has cost many lives and much suffering and constant psychological torture embracing bogus ‘family members’ from Iran, who have been allowed to penetrate the security perimeter and shout abuse and threats at the residents through loudspeakers.
These serial violations of the basic human rights of the civilian residents of Camp Liberty have been ignored by the UN, despite the fact that over the past seven years 141 residents have been killed in a series of well-planned massacres, 27 have lost their lives due to the medical siege, 1,400 have been injured in the numerous attacks and 7 residents abducted during the brutal massacre in Camp Ashraf on 1stSeptember 2013 have simply disappeared without trace. Notwithstanding this catalogue of abuse, Liberty has still not been recognized as a refugee camp and the Iraqi government continues to impose an intense siege. The management team in charge of the camp consists of the same individuals who played major roles in the massacres against these refugees in Camp Ashraf.
Additionally, until the end of Maliki’s tenure Liberty had been the target of numerous rocket barrages. This has continued under Abadi with the latest such attack on 29 October last year, involving 80 massive rockets fired at Liberty leaving 24 residents dead.
Many people say to me: “Well after all the international support you have gained for the PMOI and for Ashraf and Liberty, why have so many been killed? What have your campaigns achieved?
Why is the high-level international support useful?” Well let me tell you the answer. My colleagues and I who support the PMOI deeply regret every single life that has been lost. …every single injury that has been sustained. But let me tell you, if we did not have these campaigns, if we did not enjoy this high-level international support, as well as the tireless activities of the members of the Iranian resistance and especially Mrs Rajavi, then I am sure that the number of casualties would have been much, much higher.
As far as the mullahs are concerned they want to eliminate all of the people in Liberty or they want to make them give up and surrender. The US and the West also prefer just to sit on the sidelines and never commit themselves to any responsibility. So it is only because of these efforts and these campaigns that we have managed to save most of the people in Ashraf and Liberty.
The same goes for the financial and logistical issues. The PMOI and the residents of Liberty are not dependent on any governments. This has been the case from the outset. The Iranian regime first accused them of being in the pocket of the Americans, then accused them of being dependent on aid from the Soviet Union and then even accused them of getting money from Israel. For many years the regime accused the PMOI of being funded by Saddam Hussein. After the fall of Saddam, not even one single document has been found to show that the PMOI has ever received a single cent from the Iraqi government.
The reality is that the PMOI has always relied on its own Iranian supporters and thousands of European and western citizens who have contributed to this movement. Every Euro that has been contributed to this resistance movement, every signature that has been placed on a petition of support, has been a help and contribution for peace and freedom, not just in Iran, but for the whole world.
I gave my wholehearted support to the Iranian Mojahedin at a time when they were still unjustly listed as an international terrorist organisation. I suffered smears and attacks from all sides when I campaigned successfully to have them removed from the US, UK and EU terrorist blacklists.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of decisiveness and the on-going appeasement policy of the United States and the EU towards Iran, the mullahs in Tehran have been given a free hand in Iraq. The result of this policy has been the intensification of insecurity and destruction and an inability to fight ISIS effectively. The nuclear agreement and the ending of sanctions have simply exacerbated this situation. Obama and Kerry think that they have achieved a major diplomatic coup. They regard Hassan Rouhani as a moderate with whom the West can do business.
But we know better! We know that the ‘smiling’, ‘moderate’ Rouhani is in charge of a government which is venally corrupt; a government which has executed over 2400 people since he took office 2½ years ago; a government which condones torture and arbitrary imprisonment; a government which discriminates against women, treats them as second-class citizens; a government that discriminates against anyone who is not a Shi’ia Muslim; a government which is misogynist, xenophobic, homophobic and psychopathic.
This is the real Iran under the theocratic and fascist rule of the mullahs. This is the real Iran whose so-called moderate president the West believes it can do deals with. We have learned nothing. Iran’s main export now that sanctions have been lifted will not be oil. Iran’s main export is and always will be terror. Iran funds Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, Bashir al-Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen and the brutal Shi’ite militias in Iraq.
It is a fact that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his fascist mullahs were the first teachers of ISIS. Khomeini wrote a book many years before he came to power. This is not a political book or a book of ethics. It is a book that seeks to interpret the Sharia laws that this oppressive regime has tried to implement. Not many people know of Khomeini’s fatwas on religious minorities, which are even more criminal than Daesh. In his book: “Tahrir al-Vasileh”, Khomeini writes: “Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians have to pay a poll tax (Jizyah). The Islamic State will not accept Jizyah from other infidel sects…Those others have two choices: Become Muslims or be killed.” He adds that“Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians must not establish synagogues or ring church bells …if they do, Muslims must destroy them; their buildings must not stand higher than those of the neighbouring Muslims.”These were the chilling words of the current Iranian regime’s founding father…..the words of a tyrant, now used as a guidebook by Daesh.
On Friday 26thFebruary, elections were held in Iran.The Western media has claimed that the moderates won a large number of seats. But this was not a real election. Winners of the 290 seats in the ‘Islamic Consultative Assembly’ (parliament) and the 86-member ‘Assembly of Experts’ (the body tasked with selecting Iran’s Supreme leader and supervising his conduct), were in fact the usual elderly, bearded, homophobic, misogynistic, sociopaths that have run this oppressive theocratic regime since the fall of the Shah. The outcome was certain before the first ballot was cast. The election was a fraud and its result was fixed from the outset. The Iranian constitution states that a Guardian Council comprising six theologians appointed by the Supreme leader and a further six jurists appointed by the Head of the Judiciary, who is also incidentally appointed by the Supreme Leader, are allowed to vet candidates for the elections. Of the 12,123 candidates who registered to stand for election to the Iranian parliament, 7,403 were rejected, deemed to be from the so-called ‘moderate’ wing of Iranian politics by supporting the current President Hassan Rouhani. Only 165 candidates were allowed to contest the 86 seats in the ‘Assembly of Experts’ for the same reason.
The Iranian regime has also claimed that a majority of the people, 60 to 70 percent took part. This is a big lie. Taking the foreign journalists to some selected voting stations, which were well prepared in advance was not difficult. If it was a real election, the mullahs would have accepted international observers which is quite routine, quite normal in most democratic countries.
In dictatorships like Iran, it is not difficult to claim 80 or 90 percent participation. In the absence of independent international observers, rigging the elections is in fact quite easy. Our experience from these ‘show elections’ in Iran is that whatever the outcome, the officials at the end multiply the number of votes, by 3 or 4 times. This is the reality of this sham democracy and these sham elections and we should not be fooled into thinking that we are now dealing with a new democratically elected ‘moderate’ parliament.
For decades, Iran has systematically jailed, tortured, and executed dissidents without due process of law and assassinated political opponents outside its state borders. But I am absolutely confident that if it were not for this resistance movement, the political situation in the region and in Iran would have been much different and much worse and the Iranian regime would have been able to commit more crimes in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I long for the day when the sunshine of freedom will shine once more on the people of Iran. Only Mrs Rajavi can lead the people of Iran towards that sunshine and towards the freedom that they so richly deserve.
Struan Stevenson was a Conservative MEP representing Scotland in the European Parliament from 1999 until his retirement in 2014. He was President of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014. He is now President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).