A delegation of senior former US officials used the platform at a huge annual Iran Freedom rally in Paris on Saturday to issue a hard-hitting policy initiative urging President Obama to “enter into dialogue” with Iran’s Parliament-in-exile, the NCRI.
Its 39 signatories included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives; Frances Townsend, former Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush; Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security Secretary; to name just a few.
Ridge, who served as the first US Secretary of Homeland Security, told the NCRI supporters watching in Villepinte and throughout the world that the document called “for a new approach in our country’s policy to Iran and the Iranian opposition”.
“The initiative we publicly announce today is an individual initiative motivated by our concerns for US national security as well as justice and security for Arab and Persian citizens around the world whose futures are being shaped by current events.
“It is also motivated by ending the suffering of the Iranian people, who have been deprived of even the most basic rights for the past 35 years under the tyrannical regime ruling Iran.
“We are also deeply concerned about the safety and security of the approximate 2,500 Iranian opposition members trapped in Camp Liberty in Iraq who our Government, through our military, pledged in writing to protect.
He was referring to members of Iran’s principle democratic opposition group, the MEK (PMOI), who have faced repeated attacks by Iranian terrorists near Baghdad airport.
“Their safety while being processed for onward relocation remains a moral obligation to the USA, arising not only from a written guarantee but also from the invaluable intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program being provided by the opposition members.
“Our countries failure to uphold these solemn promises to these defenceless men and women is inexcusable.”
The US government in 2004 recognized MEK members in Iraq as “Protected Person” under the Fourth Geneva Convention. After the MEK agreed to relocate from their original home Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty in Baghdad in 2011, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recognized all MEK members there as asylum seekers with protections under international law.
Ridge said the initiative also called on Washington to “end the misguided position” which had sought to “isolate, exclude or otherwise ignore Iran’s largest, most established and best organised political opposition – the NCRI led by Mrs Maryam Rajavi”.
Frances Townsend took the stage to announce that she hoped the document would prompt Washington to engage the democratic opposition led by Maryam Rajavi, a failure she said had been “the missing piece of US policy for many years under both Republican and Democrat leaderships”.
“We call on our Government to break the stalemate and engage in respectful dialogue with the Iranian opposition.
“Whatever the result of the nuclear talks, the wishes of the Iranian people and their desire for change must be taken into consideration.
“We need to begin listening to the voices of the brave Iranians, many who have waited more than three decades as your loved ones have endured torture and death in the mullahs’ prisons still believing in the promise of America.
“All of us here today stand with them and with you in solidarity with their deepest aspirations for a respectable, just and democratic Iranian government worth of its people.”
The document calls for “verification, not blind trust” on the nuclear negotiations, curbing “Iran’s destructive role throughout the region,” and being “more vigilant and vocal about human rights abuses by the regime that continue inside Iran”.