The successful relocation of all members of the Iranian opposition group, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) from Camp Liberty in Iraq to a dozen European countries was and is on the news for past week. On that note, many dignitaries and prominent political personalities, lawmakers and Parliamentary groups from the four corners of the globe have expressed joy and relief of this safe and complete relocation.
The following is just a few examples of the these support and congratulations
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) (09.09.16):
“We are glad the evacuation and resettlement of the residents of Camp Liberty from Iraq to Albania has been successfully concluded. The safety and security of the residents has always been our primary concern, and they have now been effectively placed beyond the immediate reach of Iran and its terrorist proxies operating in Iraq. While the completion of this resettlement is good news, we know that attacks on Camp Liberty as well as Camp Ashraf cost far too many lives.
We also thank the Government of Albania for its generosity and compassion. They have opened the doors to the people of Camp Liberty and have allowed this process to move forward.”
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ):
“In 2003, the United States made a commitment to protect thousands of members of the Iranian dissident organization, the Mujadedin-e Khalq (MEK), who agreed to surrender their weapons and came under our protection as a result. Today marks the culmination of that commitment with the safe and successful relocation of all Iranian dissidents residing in Camp Liberty, Iraq to Albania. This is a welcome and long overdue development.
I extend my deepest thanks to the Government of Albania for its hospitality and courage in its efforts to resolve this humanitarian crisis. Albania’s willingness to provide refuge to the residents of Camp Liberty is a true testament to the spirit and values of the Albanian people.
Given the history of the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on these residents and the subsequent violence directed against them during their stay in Iraq, I believe it is imperative that the residents continue to be recognized as people of concern and entitled to international protections underscored in the 1951 Geneva Convention. This is necessary to ensure that the residents will finally have the opportunity to enjoy their long-denied rights and privileges in a new and democratic environment.
I continue to stand with the people of Iran and the Iranian-American community who yearn for a free Iran. The safe resettlement of these Iranian dissidents is a vital step in countering the Iranian regime’s malign influence in the region, and it serves as an important reminder to our allies and adversaries that the United States stands by its commitments.”
John Kerry (to reporters 12.09.16):
“On Friday of last week, the last 280 members of the exiled Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin e-Khalq, or MEK, as they’re known, were moved out of Camp Liberty in Iraq. And their departure concludes a significant American diplomatic initiative that has assured the safety of more than 3,000 MEK members whose lives have been under threat. And as everybody remembers, the camp they were in had on many occasions been shelled. There were people killed and injured. And we have been trying to figure out the way forward.
Well, the last 10 years have been filled with reminders of this challenge. I first became involved in this effort when I was in the Senate, and that is why during my first year as Secretary I appointed Jonathan Winer, one of my longest-serving and most trusted advisers, as our emissary to find a way to help the MEK be able to leave Iraq.
After steady progress over a period of months, I visited Tirana earlier this year and I discussed with the Albanian Government how to assist in facilitating the transfer and the resettlement of the last group of MEK members from Camp Liberty. Albania has a proud tradition of protecting vulnerable communities, as it did during the Kosovo conflict and in sheltering large numbers of Jews during World War II. I am very grateful that in this case too Albania was willing to play an important humanitarian role. I also want to thank the governments of Germany, Norway, Italy, the U.K., Finland, and other EU countries for helping to save the lives of the MEK. And this is a major humanitarian achievement, and I’m very proud that the United States was able to play a pivotal role in helping to get this job done.”
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (on Twitter):
“Glad to hear the good news that all MEK residents from Camp Liberty have been transferred safely to out of Iraq and away from Iranian threats.”
Senator Tillis (12.09.16):
“Camp Liberty was a former U.S. military installation in Baghdad that housed approximately 3,000 Iranian political refugees who oppose the totalitarian Iranian regime. Despite initially working to create Camp Liberty and pledging to protect the Iranian refugees, the Obama Administration had been slow to address the camp’s security vulnerabilities. The residents of Camp Liberty were targeted in countless attacks over the last several years, resulting in the deaths of innocent men and women.
Camp Liberty will be remembered as not only a humanitarian issue, but also a symbol of hope and courage to young people in Iran,” said Senator Tillis. “While the American government failed to live-up to its commitment to protect the brave political dissidents of Camp Liberty, I am grateful they have been safely relocated to Albania, where they will finally be safe from the attacks of Iranian-backed militias that cowardly fired upon the unarmed masses who dared to speak out against the atrocities of the Iranian regime and call for democracy in Iran.”
Wesley Martin, retired U.S. Army colonel:
“This summer marked the 28th anniversary of an extraordinary massacre of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the span of a few months in 1988, upwards of 30,000 people were put to death as a result of minutes-long trials that were little more than loyalty tests for the regime. The vast majority of those victims were members and supporters of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), and recently revealed information has helped to confirm that the massacre was primarily motivated by a longstanding desire to snuff out the opposition of the MEK to the increasingly repressive theocracy.
Predictably, then, the 1988 massacre was an early incident in what would become a long history of hardship for the MEK. That hardship would follow the resistance group beyond the borders of Iran, and would be made worse over the years not only by the direct action of Iran and its proxies, but also by the inaction of much of the world community.
At the end of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, thousands of members of the MEK were relocated out of the community they had built there during the '80s. After two massacres of the residents by the Iranian regime's proxies in the Iraqi government, under an agreement among the Iraqi government, the United States, the United Nations, the Iranian exiles began to be settled in the former U.S. military base of Camp Liberty near the Baghdad airport. But before the relocation could even be completed, Camp Ashraf was brutally attacked by Iraqi affiliates of the Iranian regime, resulting in over 50 deaths. No one has ever been held accountable for the crime.
On Friday, the final group of dissidents left Iraq through a scheme organized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugee assisted by the U.S. Embassy. The Iranian regime resorted to all means to prevent the relocation but it was lost a battle for the mullahs and their Quds Force, which intended to eliminate the movement by in particular arresting and extraditing its leadership in Iraq. The MEK and its members' steadfastness resulted in massive international support from U.S. dignitaries, to members of Congress and European parliamentarians.
Camp Liberty was only intended to be a brief stopping point on the way to the MEK members' relocation to foreign countries where they would not be under constant threat from Tehran. But years passed with barely a word being said about the 2011 agreement. The MEK has always had staunch supporters in the U.S. Congress and other Western legislatures, and those individuals made repeated inquiries into the situation, but for far too long the response was tepid at best. And in the meantime, the MEK community has suffered five missile attacks, a blockade of medical supplies, and denial of basic services, resulting in dozens more deaths.
The MEK is by all accounts a natural ally of those seeking civic freedom, human rights and democracy in Iran. The 10-point plan of Maryam Rajavi, the president of its political coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has been described as embodying the essential principles of any democratic nation in the modern world. It outlines a future for Iran that will be based on secularism, free and democratic elections, the active promotion of the rights of women, and avoidance of the current regime's policies of aggressive intervention.”
Alejo Vidal-Quadras former Vice President of the European Parliament and president of International Committee In Search of Justice (09.09.16):
“This evening the last group of Camp Liberty residents, members of the main Iranian opposition, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK), left Iraq safely for Albania. However, the Iranian regime used every element to sabotage this operation”, he wrote in his post on isjcommittee.com
In this message he stated: “This is a major defeat for the mullahs and the final failure of its repeated criminal attempts to massacre all the residents in Camp Liberty. It is also a historic victory for the Iranian resistance and the Iranian people and all supporters of democracy and freedom in Iran which was achieved only due to the steadfastness of Ashraf and Liberty residents, and the leadership of Mrs Maryam Rajavi, as well as the international campaigns by many parliamentarians, political dignitaries, lawyers and brave supporters all over of the world”.
Struan Stevenson, former member of the European Parliament and President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (09.09.16):
“This afternoon the main Iranian opposition PMOI (MEK), moved their remaining members who were previously trapped in Camp Liberty near Baghdad airport. This successful huge transfer took place while the Iranian regime planned to either eliminate or rip apart its main enemy while they were still in Iraq.
This final round of departures marks the successful conclusion of the process of relocating members of the PMOI (MEK) to countries of safety outside Iraq despite the Iranian regime’s conspiracies, obstruction and threats, which continued until the very last day.
I was a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and President of the Delegation for Relations with Iraq during my final 5-year mandate. I was able to learn at first-hand about the Iraqi government’s repeated attempts to annihilate the defenceless PMOI (MEK) refugees in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, under the guidance of the Iranian regime.
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 was a constant state of intense siege imposed by the Iraqi government, puppets of the mullahs in Tehran, which continued to the last day. This siege involved the complete imprisonment of the residents of Camp Liberty in a small compound vulnerable to repeated rocket attacks. The residents suffered a sporadic blockade against fuel, food and essential equipment and a determined resistance by the Iraqi authorities against the provision of protective concrete T-walls inside the camp. In addition a medical blockade of the camp cost many lives and much suffering and there was constant psychological torture involving bogus so-called ‘family members’ from Iran, who were allowed to penetrate the security perimeter and shout abuse and threats at the residents through loudspeakers, while carrying out reconnaissance missions to prepare for further rocket attacks.
These serial violations of the basic human rights of the civilian residents of Camp Liberty were ignored by the UN. Three massacres at Camp Ashraf, five missile attacks on Camp Liberty, two cases of abduction of defenceless residents, and the imposition of a fully-fledged eight-year siege, which left 177 residents dead, constituted parts of this vicious, although ultimately futile, plan.
As far as the mullahs are concerned they wanted to eliminate all of the people in Liberty or to make them give up and surrender. This did not happen due to the courage and resistance of PMOI (MEK) members who stood up against numerous conspiracies, as well as the inspiring leadership of Mrs Maryam Rajavi and the active backing of thousands of parliamentarians and Iranian communities all around the world.
The victorious transfer of the PMOI (MEK) members and the regime’s ultimate major defeat in this regard, opens a new chapter for the Iranian people and its Resistance. Now that the main organized democratic opposition is safely out of Iraq, we need to focus on the human rights situation, the end of executions and a democratic change; a free Iran. We also need to redouble legal efforts to bring those to justice in Iraq who orchestrated the serial abuse and murder of the Ashraf and Liberty residents and who looted their property worth tens of millions of dollars.”
Prominent German figures (joint statement):
“The relocation of Iranian opposition members from Iraq was successfully carried out. Thus, a long-term concern turned into a great joy for all those who never lost their hope and continued to resist by standing on their positions and providing aid measures.
Following the US invasion of Iraq, the Iranian regime repeatedly attempted to eradicate PMOI (MEK). Three massacres in Camp Ashraf, five missile attacks to Camp Liberty, and an 8-year-old siege took lives of 168 of these opponents.
The Iranian regime has in no time been happy about the withdrawal of PMOI (MEK) members from Iraq and it is essential that Mrs. Maryam Rajavi be extremely praised as she tirelessly led this relocation process with great effort and promoted it to the level of a global humanitarian movement.
Many prominent figures from Germany, Europe, America and the Arab world supported Mrs. Rajavi in her initiative. This solidarity and cooperation, turned into an unbelievable political protection shield for relocating PMOI (MEK) members.
The main portion of this success belongs to the very own members and numerous fans of the PMOI (MEK).
Our efforts and humanitarian aids should and will continue while PMOI (MEK) members are more motivated than ever to achieve their main goal, namely a free and democratic Iran.”
British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom (BPCIF):
“We learned that after 13 years of painstaking work in defence of the security, and to protect the rights of members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK), in Camp Ashraf and in later Camp Liberty in Iraq, finally, all members and supporters of the organisation, have officially been accepted by the government of Albania and all have been moved to that country.
Undoubtedly, today counts as a great and historic day for the democratic opposition and resistance of the Iranian people and all of us as supporters of this liberation movement.
During the last 13 years, the Iranian regime employed all possible destructive tactics against the PMOI (MEK) in Iraq.
The regime provided extensive financial and military support for the terrorist groups in Iraq, resulting in 8 missile attacks against the innocent residents of Camps Ashraf and Liberty in Iraq.
Such assaults left 141 dead, hundreds wounded and 7 hostages, from whom, 6 are women and there is no trace of them. The regime’s intention was either to force the PMOI (MEK) members to surrender or the complete destruction of the PMOI (MEK) organisation. Despite the Iranian regime’s expansive and destructive efforts, thanks to their own heroic resistance in Camps Ashraf and Liberty, as well as their countless international campaigns the Iranian resistance was victorious.
We should also acknowledge the extensive and highly effective campaigns led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) which were decisive in turning the international balance of power in favour of the Iranian people and their Resistance and against the religious dictatorship in Iran.”
Giulio Terzi, former Italian Foreign Minister (in The Hill):
Between rapprochement or conflict with a dangerous regime lies an alternative for Western governments: “put their full-throated support behind the democratic opposition,” Terzi wrote.
Outlining the achievements of the Iranian Resistance, he argues that a better understanding of the movement would give policy-makers an obvious way to resolve the hopelessness of trying to moderate an increasingly “provocative” regime.
The Resistance, in the shape of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK), has, Terzi argues, withstood an incessant campaign by the regime to annihilate it, including the mass execution of nearly 30,000 of its members in 1988 and, most recently, the attempted killing or capture of those thousands of PMOI (MEK) members stranded in Camp Liberty in Iraq.
In spite of this “carnage”, the NCRI “draws approximately 100,000 supporters to its annual international gathering near Paris,” Terzi points out.
What the Resistance has accomplished has been with the support of parliamentarians across the globe, but it has been without the support of national executives, he says. This makes the successive blows it lands against the “blood-drenched Ayatollahs”, including the successful relocation of its members from Iraq to Albania, all the more noteworthy.
For example, those PMOI (MEK) members in Iraq’s Camp Liberty had to withstand “five missile attacks, three direct assaults, and a constant blockade of medical supplies and essential services”. More than 150 died, “while much of the international community has turned a blind eye”.
This strength gives the lie to the oft-made argument that this “inherently violent regime...is the only organized representative for the Iranian people,” Terzi says.
However, he argues, “There is another government waiting in the wings, prepared to shape a future for Iran that is based on declared principles of secularism, democracy, and gender equality as it has been articulated by President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Maryam Rajavi.”
Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran:
“Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran (CFDI) offers its congratulations to Mrs. Maryam Rajavi and each resident of Ashraf (later Liberty) for the great success of the Iranian resistance in achieving the safe transfer of all Camp Liberty residents from Iraq to Albania, and shares the joy of the Iranian people and the resistance in thwarting the mullah regime’s plots against the lives of residents.”