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 Whistleblowers Need Protection



Remarks of Hon. David Kilgour to a demonstration at Red Cross Office, Ottawa
August 27, 2008

The regime in Tehran is actively seeking to exterminate the refugees at Ashraf City, despite the fact that they have been granted protection under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Tehran continuously seeks to undermine the work of those opposed to it, including the PMOI, in many ways which violate the rule of law: missile attacks, destruction of services and medicine going to the city, intrusive attempts to gain intelligence from family members, disinformation campaigns and pressure on the Iraqi government to deport the residents of Ashraf City to Iran.

These actions not only threaten the gravest results to these protected persons, but would also destroy one of the most effective opposition groups, who are working for political change in Iran.

The goal of those of us present here today is to place the situation, status and legal principles towards the residents of Ashraf City before the International Committee of the Red Cross, and stand in solidarity with our friends in Iraq in hope of a democratic and free Iran, and a safer world.

We do not concede to Tehran the exclusive right to define what is normative in Islam or any religion. We are firm in our views that progressive, tolerant and cooperative forms of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are just as authentic, viable and faithful to their sources as the misogynist and bigoted form of Islam purveyed around the world by the current regime in Iran.

We believe we must support the people of Ashraf City as a matter of conscience and faith. The Interfaith Committee for the Support of Protected Persons in Ashraf (ICSPPA) ( of which I am a new member) is united in our stand against any US invasion of Iran to bring about regime change, but we are also fully committed to some form of authentic democracy for the Iranian people, now suffering under a murderous regime whose human rights abuses are legendary and growing constantly.

To this end, we support without reservation the right of Iranians to form legitimate opposition movements within and outside of their country, since free and fair elections are impossible under the current regime of fundamentalists ruling that country. Hence, we support the People's Mojahedin of Iran, some of whose members are currently residing under protected refugee status in Ashraf City.

This group, long labeled as terrorists due to the machinations of Tehran, are a legitimate political party which has recently been de-listed from proscription by both chambers of the British Parliament. The same actions are pending in the European Union and the United States, and we are confident that eventually the PMOI, which has been cleared of any wrong doing by the US military and UNHCR, will be recognized as a legitimate group with the political goal of bringing democracy to Iran.

Canada's Parliament and national government should follow the Parliament in the UK without delay.

Finally, permit me to stress that the ICRC as the official guarantor of international humanitarian law, is mandated to act in a situation like this one. I urge it to re-issue its letter on Ashraf of about two years ago and to urge the multinational forces in Iraq not to transfer the protection of the residents of Ashraf to a third party, such as the government of Iraq, which will not fulfill its obligation to the protected persons of Ashraf.

Thank you.

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