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Governor Ed Rendell – Iran and Iraq Governments, Sponsors of Attack on Liberty

Governor Ed Rendell  –Convention for Democracy in Iran, Villepinte, Paris, France 

Convention for Democracy in Iran, Paris, June 22, 2013 - Good evening everyone.  I want to begin by echoing what Newt Gingrich said, all of you by being here tonight are making a strong, strong statement. 

Three years ago when I got involved with this movement someone in the State Department told me, "You shouldn't do this.  This is just a cult and it only has about 2,000 followers worldwide."  Well, let the State Department officials come here to Paris tonight and see the breadth and the numbers that are here and the passion and the commitment of the people in this room.

And the mullahs should know that the people of Liberty and Ashraf are a proud people.  Military commanders have told me that when they needed to be they were fierce warriors.  We know they're great builders because they built an incredible city on their own.  We know they're great artists and musicians because all of us have heard incredible concerts by a band with women and men sitting side by side playing beautiful music.  These proud people deserve more than we have given them. 

And as you've heard over and over tonight and as you know, United States government over a decade ago signed a contract with each and every one of the residents of Ashraf and Liberty saying that if they disarmed we would protect them.  We would protect them with the full faith and credit of the United States government.  And for six years that worked well.  And in fact, the residents of Ashraf helped the United States military by giving them information about missions they carried out in Iraq.  But then the U.S. government turned over security to the Iraqi government, and all hell broke loose. 

In 2009, the Maliki government's forces attacked the people of Ashraf; a bloody, deadly attack.  And the State Department issued a statement condemning the attack, but nothing changed.   In 2011, it happened again.  Another bloody, brutal attack with the government Iraq’s federal police using U.S. vehicles and U.S. weapons.  And worst of all, there were American forces right outside Ashraf and two hours before the attack they were ordered to retreat.  By who?  We still don't know.  And after the 2011 attack, the State Department issued a statement condemning the attack and calling on the government of Iraq to do differently.  But nothing changed. 

And then United Nations, the State Department, and we, the American friends of the MEK, convinced the people of Ashraf to move to Liberty.  We told them that the UN and the U.S. and the government of Iraq guaranteed their safety at Liberty.  Let the record show we misled them. 

We misled them.  There has been no attempt to guarantee their safety.  In fact, the opposite is true.  The government of Iraq has prevented them from taking common sense safety measures: T-walls or protective armor to protect themselves.  And again, death has resulted. 

We saw a rocket attack in February. When it happened the State Department issued a statement condemning the attack and calling on the government of Iraq to investigate.  Nothing happened.  And then the attack of June 15th occurred, and the State Department issued a statement condemning the attack and calling on the government of Iraq to investigate. 

Well, Colonel Wes Martin, one of your heroes who will speak a little later on, said to me, "Asking the government of Iraq to investigate those rocket attacks would be like asking the gangster Al Capone to investigate the St. Valentine's Massacre that his people did in Chicago."  It's ludicrous.  It's a joke. We know who sponsored those attacks. 

And by the way, we don't have to guess anymore, Iraqi Hezbollah said that they launched those attacks.  And they said, "We're going to do it again."  And, just to make it absolutely crystal clear, I'm going to give you the exact quote in which the commander said, "Our security operations are conducted upon the guidance of Al-Maliki and Khamenei."  Case closed.  No investigation needed.  The Iraqi government and the Iran government are the sponsors of the attacks on Liberty.  And if that isn't enough to cause the United States to act, I don't know what is. 

Now, after the June 15th attack I sent an e-mail to a friend of mine who is high up in the State Department who I bombard with e-mails about this issue all the time, and I said to him, "Time to get them out of Liberty.  How many more have to die before the State Department does something?"  He sent me back this response: "Governor, let's talk.  The department is working on a solution to the problem."  And I sent him back another e-mail in which I said, "Thanks for getting back to me, but the only plan is to get them out of Liberty." 

Madame Rajavi, let's have a big hand for Madame Rajavi.  And I know there's some desire for us to be able to persuade the department to move them back to Ashraf.  And that's better than staying in Liberty.  But be absolutely clear about one thing, they will not be safe in Ashraf.  They weren't safe in 2009.  They weren't safe in 2011.  There's only one thing that will guarantee the safety of these brave, proud people and that's to get them out of Iraq now.  Now.

Now you know, there are 33 million refugees around the world.  There are refugees from Somalia and Sudan in Ethiopia and Kenya.  There are refugees from Burma in Bangladesh.  There are refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan in Pakistan.  And so someone might say well why should the United States airlift these people out of Iraq? 

And the reason is because we've done it before.  This is from the United Nations web site about refugees, and it talks about a camp by the name of Dadaab.  It's in northeast Kenya on the Kenya-Somalia border.  It is the largest refugee camp in the world with almost 500,000 refugees. And I'm reading from the UN report.  In 1999, the United States classified the Bantu refugees from Somalia as a priority and the U.S. Department of State began what has been described as the most ambitious resettlement plan ever from Africa with thousands of Bantus in Dadaab scheduled for resettlement in America. 

Well, we resettled the Bantus in America.  We resettled the Mong from Cambodia in America.  But the Bantus and the Mong never had the legal and moral word of the United States that “we would protect them.”  We did it because it was the right thing. 

But the residents of Ashraf and Liberty are even different from the Bantus and the Mong.  The residents of Ashraf and liberty have the word of the United States government, a legally binding contract that we would protect them.  We have no choice and we're going to make this as clear as can be to the State Department or we're going to keep banging and banging until it gets done. 

We have no choice but to live up to our obligation, the United States of America, and get these people out of Iraq to safety.  They are strong, they are steadfast, they've sacrificed a lot.  It is our duty as Americans to do this.  We gave our word, let's honor our word. 


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Iraqi forces attack Camp Ashraf