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April 13, 2011

Attack on Camp Ashraf

[Page: H2577]  GPO's PDF 

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe) for 5 minutes.

Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, last week Iraqi forces unleashed a surprise attack on Camp Ashraf, the home of thousands of Iranian exiles, including innocent men, women and children; 2,500 members of the Iraqi military, armed with military weapons, attacked those 3,000 unarmed Iranian exiles.

These Iranian civilians are pro-American. They are exiles from Iran because of their opposition to the evil dictator, the little tyrant of the desert, Ahmadinejad.

The Iraqis showed no mercy in their attack. They used live ammunition against these people who could not defend themselves. They ran over these citizens, smashing them with their American-made Humvees. Reports indicate an estimated 300 people were injured and 33 people were murdered in their vicious attack.

And it doesn't stop there. Iraqi soldiers still occupy parts of Camp Ashraf. We don't even know if the attackers are all Iraqis. It has been reported that some of these occupiers could be Iranian agents who seek to harm the Iranian dissidents living in this camp.

The international community cannot tolerate this unprovoked, violent attack by the Government of Iraq. We have a legal and moral obligation to ensure the safety of Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf.

The innocent people who live in Camp Ashraf continue to be in danger as we speak. It has been reported that the Government of Iraq blocked the delivery of American humanitarian aid to the wounded until Sunday, 2 days after the attack. And just yesterday the Iraqi Government announced that they plan to close Camp Ashraf and move its residents out of the country. This is exactly what Ahmadinejad wants.

If this happens, Mr. Speaker, these people's lives are in total danger. Why? Right now, some citizens of Camp Ashraf are members of the MEK. The MEK is on the United States' list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

The FTO organization designation by the United States is still being used by Iran to justify the harsh treatment of its own citizens, of the MEK worldwide. Many nations have already removed the MEK off the FTO list. So the Government of Iran uses our designation as a justification to harm the MEK citizens. That is why the Iranian Government praised the attack in Camp Ashraf on the Iranian dissidents.

Mr. Speaker, by not taking the MEK off the FTO list, we are endangering innocent people and empowering the Governments of Iran and Iraq to harm them. They are on our side. They oppose the evil dictator in Iran.

This is just another example of the inconsistency the United States presents with our foreign policy. In one breath we say publicly we need to protect Camp Ashraf. Yet in the second breath we won't take MEK off the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.

Fifty-four of my colleagues have joined me on a resolution urging the Secretary of State to immediately remove the MEK from the FTO list. The State Department has yet to give convincing evidence that the MEK is an FTO. It is time they make their case or remove them from the designation.

Failure to do this sends mixed signals to both the Iranian and Iraqi Governments. These governments think they have a license to kill these dissidents.

This is a matter of life or death for the people in Camp Ashraf. If more Iraqi attacks occur against these people, the blood will be on the hands of the Iraqi Government and the little tyrant of the desert, Ahmadinejad.

We must make it clear to the Iraqis that they do not have the right to attack Camp Ashraf just because America is leaving town. We must not tolerate these crimes against innocent civilians that we have legally and morally promised to protect.

And that's just the way it is.

(House of Representatives - April 12, 2011)

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