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Howard Dean – Liberty Meets the Standards for a Prison not a Refugee Camp

Howard DeanParis, February 2, 2013 - Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you for your very kind introduction.  I want to thank Madame Rajavi for her extraordinary speech.  And I ask after you've heard the speech of Madame Rajavi, who do you think should be president of Iran, Ahmadinejad or Madame Rajavi? [applause] [chanting] Those values of gender equality, of separation of mosque and state, freedom, of abolishing the death penalty, those are not just Iranian values.  Those are American values and we should be supporting those who wish to spread democratic values around the world.


Now, it is true that Iran and North Korea have a distinction of being tied for having the worst human rights record on the earth.  The worst human rights effort on the earth.  It is also true that for a long time the United States and the United Nations had said that they stand up to protect those who are fighting for human rights.  But it is not enough to stay that you are going to protect those who are fighting for human rights.  You must do something to protect those who are fighting for human rights.  And the risk, the risk before the United States and the United Nations today for those at supposed Camp Liberty is that we will not support our own convictions with our actions.  It is not sufficient to talk if you are  world leader, you must act.


Now we have made progress in the last two years.  No longer is the Iranian resistance unjustifiably on the American terror list or the Canadian terror list or the Australian terror list.  And I give the Europeans, our friends in Europe, the credit for obeying the law long before we did and getting them off the terrorist list long before.  But the fact of the matter is, that there are more than 3,100 Iranian dissidents who the United States of America disarmed with a promise to protect that are sitting in what amounts to a prison camp near Baghdad in Iraq.  And the United States in America has a primary responsibility to make sure that those people are relocated and relocated now out of Iraq.  [applause]  Because if those people are killed by the Iraqis, that is not only the responsibility of the Iraqi regime, it is the responsibility of an American regime that did not keep its promises. And I am an American who is proud of America and I want to see America keep its promises now.  [applause]

In the question of the United Nations, the people at Ashraf were asked to move to Camp Liberty, which does not meet the standard for a refugee camp.  It meets the standard of a prison camp.  And they were asked to move with a promise that they would be relocated.  So far five people have been relocated.  We can do better than that and we must do better than that and the United Nations must do better than that.  And the United Nations has a problem because the ambassador form the United Nations has an automatic conflict of interest.  We're not going to discuss his job, how well he's done or how bad he's done.  What we are going to say is when you are married to the German ambassador to Iraq, then you have a conflict inside your family about what the principal job that you're supposed to be doing is.  And we need someone with no conflict to work hard to defuse this situation.  The United Nations has been too slow and this time if the United Nations is too slow there will be people who pay with their lives.  That is not acceptable and if that happens I may join those people on the other side of the aisle who believe the United Nations appropriations ought to be cut if they can't do their job.  [applause]

I understand that everything takes time, and I am a patient person.  But I will not stand for innocent people losing their lives because of bureaucratic incompetency.  That I will not stand for, and neither should any American, any Iranian, or anyone else in the world.  People will die if we don't do our job.  [applause]  Bureaucracy is not an excuse for murder.  And murder is on the mind of the Iraqi government and the Iranian government, and we need to do better.

Finally, let me say this.  The MEK has had its problems in the past.  The truth of the matter is that the MEK is also the best organized opposition, has renounced violence long ago, stands for the same things that the United Sates now stands for, and we need to get past the past.  We need to understand this is the legitimate democratic opposition.  There are other groups—we will help them too.

As Ambassador Richardson said, the regime in Iran represents the greatest danger on the face of the earth.  This is a regime that supports terrorism everywhere, thousands of Americans have died at the hands of this regime, not to mention tens of thousands of others and hundreds of thousands of Iranians.  And I say extraordinary quote that Madame Rajavi used, from the mother of the Iranian blogger who was murdered, that he was a lion and that you are cowards.  But I will add something.  For each Iranian blogger, just as for every son and daughter of the revolution that took place over 200 years ago in my country, for each one that's murdered by the Iranian secret police there will be five more and then five more after that until Iran is free.  Thank you very much.

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Iraqi forces attack Camp Ashraf