With a very long history of serving the American people in the U.S. national interest, we stand together today to call for a new approach of our country’s policy toward Iran and Iranian opposition. The initiative we publicly announce today is an independent initiative motivated by our concerns for the U.S. national security as well as justice and opportunity for millions of Arab and Persian citizens whose futures are being shaped by current events and unending suffering of Iranian people who have been deprived of their fundamental rights for over 35 years under the tyrannical regime ruling Iran.
We are also deeply concerned about the safety and security of approximately 2,500 Iranian opposition members trapped, and I say trapped, in Camp Liberty in Iraq whom our government, through our military, pledged in writing to protect their safety while being sponsored for relocation by the U.N. They remain a moral obligation for the United States of America, arising not only from the written guarantee but also from invaluable intelligence, including critical information about Iran’s nuclear program, provided by the opposition members.
Our country’s failure to uphold its solemn promises to these defenseless men and women is inexcusable, and it is a byproduct of our government’s misreading of the Iranian regime’s intentions. We are united in our understanding of the true nature of the regime in Iran, a subject of which many of our colleagues in Washington seem uncertain.
While we share the goals of ending Iran’s nuclear weapons activities through diplomacy, if such an outcome can be negotiated, we believe it is a mistake for Iran’s actions in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere to be overlooked, minimized, excused or even welcomed.
We also believe it would better serve our country’s interest to pay closer attention to the human rights and aspirations of the Iranian people.
So, all of us on the stage and thousands of Americans back home today call for an end to the misguided position of those in Washington who seek to isolate, exclude or otherwise ignore Iran’s largest, most established and best-organized political opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi.
You know, in recent years all of us have come to know Mrs. Rajavi and the NCRI, and we know the resistance far better than many in Washington who believe the NCRI should be kept at arm’s length for one reason or other.
We call today as well for immediate pressure by our government on the government of Iraq — which, I might add, depends on the government of the United States military and financial aid — to end the systematic torment of the MEK members still in Iraq that has thus far resulted in 142 deaths. And let me just remind the world, over 100 of them were outright murdered, 15 died of rocket attacks and 26 died because they were simply denied treatment to health care.
We call on Iran to end the consistent denial of livable health, sanitary and nutrition conditions. The cessation of harassment should be followed immediately by their physical removal from Iraq to countries in which Iranian opposition members are already leading productive lives. And we say to the administration of the U.S., that includes the United States of America.
• Mr. Ridge is a former secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department and a former governor and congressman from Pennsylvania. The above was adapted from remarks while reading from the New Policy Initiative, a plan endorsed by 38 former U. S. officials at the June 13 event in Paris.
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