{mosimage}"It is outrageous that the Iraqi authorities should be insisting on the forcible displacement of the people of Ashraf and their relocation to the deserts of Southern Iraq, at a place without facilities and which used to be a prison" A majority of backbench MPs on 11 March 2010 called on the Government to take urgent measures at the United Nations for the world body to protect 3,400 Iranian opposition members based at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The cross-party MPs were backed in their call by more than 150 Peers. The announcement was made at a press conference in the House of Commons, where MPs and Peers spoke in defence of the PMOI opposition group in Camp Ashraf.
 

Transcript of speech by Rt. Hon. Lord Waddington GCVO DL QC:
 
{mosimage}I regret to have to tell you that our chairman, Robin Corbett, is in hospital and I have been asked to start these proceedings today. I think you all know that we have grown to depend on Robin, depend on him for his determination, his energy and his leadership in the cause of Iran freedom and I am sure it is your wish that we should send him our very best wishes for a speedy recovery and I certainly hope he will soon be back among us.

We are at a very testing and worrying time and our thoughts are with the people of Iran, as they carry on a struggle against a tyrannical regime.  Our thoughts are also with our friends in Camp Ashraf.

May I start with Camp Ashraf , which has now been under siege for the best part of a year, with family, friends, lawyers, human rights advocates and even Iraqis who used to work in Ashraf being prevented from entering the place. As you all know Ashraf was attacked by Iraqi forces last July and it is outrageous that this flagrant breach not only international law but of all the tenets of civilised behaviour should have occurred and should have cost the lives of 11 people and led to injuries to 500 more.

To my mind, it is outrageous that the Iraqi authorities should be insisting on the forcible displacement of the people of Ashraf and their relocation to the desert in Southern Iraq, at a place without facilities and which used to be a prison. All this being only a first step to their expulsion from the country. Now make no mistake ladies and gentlemen, without action from the international community there is a real risk of a further human tragedy in Ashraf.

What I say about the threat to the people of Ashraf is of course not something I have dreamt up and embellished. My words are based exactly on the words of Prime Minister Maliki himself. On the 16th of December last year he actually said this: "This organization (referring to the PMOI) cannot have any presence in Iraq and these measures (displacement within Iraq ) are only preparatory measures to end their presence in Iraq ... Their expulsion from the camp [Ashraf] is to prepare for their transfer to outside Iraq or any country that would accept them. Or else, they can take advantage of a general amnesty to be awarded to them by Iran ".

Well ladies and gentlemen that last sentence deserves only a hollow laugh. Does anybody seriously think that an amnesty granted by the regime would be worth the paper it was written on, that an amnesty would be honoured when relatives of the people of Ashraf are even now languishing in Iranian jails, some on death row having been declared “mohareb” “enemies of God”, of course not.

Meanwhile people claiming to have relatives in Ashraf parade at the main entrance to Ashraf, threatening and shouting abuse at the residents using loudspeakers it seems provided by the Iraqi government. Ladies and gentlemen all of these deplorable events have been recorded and condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other bodies. It is up to all of us to see that everyone in this country and the world community knows what is going on.

A resolution adopted by the European Parliament on April the 24th last year said once again that the residents of Ashraf are “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention and I say that the British government cannot wash its hands of this matter, but must with the US insist that the Iraqi government complies with that resolution.

As for us here at this meeting, we call upon the Iraqi government to honour its obligations under international law. In that way the government can uphold the credibility and dignity of Iraq as an independent state.

Now there is a statement on Iraq signed by a majority of backbenchers in the Commons and over 150 Peers and we are here today to acclaim and support that very statement.

Now finally just for the sake of completeness I just want to say a very brief word about the situation inside Iran . The demands for democratic change are unceasing and we salute those who are calling for it. It is hard to see how any state can be considered civilised when its courts condemn to death a 20 year old Mohamed Valian for throwing stones at members of the security forces who were beating up demonstrators. He was found guilty of being an “enemy of God”, but it is surely those that condemned Valian who are the true enemies of God.

We in this Parliament will continue to draw to the attention of the people these enormities. Forgive me for speaking for so long, but I feel very strongly about these matters as do all my colleagues.  We are here to show our tremendous support for the courageous people of Ashraf and the people fighting for freedom on the streets of Iran.