posted on December 17, 2014 by Congressional Record
By Congressman Ted Poe
- Speaker, you may not know it, but there is a group that, like the United States, thinks the Supreme Leader of Iran needs to go. They are a group of Iranians called the MEK. They want their countrymen to be free from the oppressive regime that has ruled with an iron fist since 1979. But the MEK is locked up in a prison-like camp in Iraq. 112 of its members have been killed.
- How we came to this point is a story worth telling. After the Iranian revolution, the MEK opposed the Supreme Leader. So the newly installed Islamic regime systematically arrested and executed members of the MEK. The MEK fled and found refuge in Iraq. They built a home in the middle of the desert in a place called Camp Ashraf. In August 2002, the MEK disclosed two previously unknown nuclear facilities in Iran.
- The Natanz enrichment facility and Arak heavy water facility triggered the IAEA inspection of Iranian sites for the first time.
- After the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, the MEK gave over all of its weapons to the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division. In return, the U.S. promised to protect the MEK, labeling them “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
- On January 1, 2009, U.S. forces handed control over to the Iraqi Security Forces. Then Prime Minister Maliki was beholden to Tehran so when the Supreme Leader asked him to crack down on the MEK, he obeyed. Maliki either allowed or facilitated two deadly attacks on the defenseless residents living in Camp Ashraf. In July 2009, 11 residents were killed and 500 more injured. Two years later, in April 2011, the Camp was attacked again.
- Videos would show Humvees running over residents and snipers shooting at residents as they ran for their lives. The attackers were not trying to talk. They were trying to kill. And they succeeded. 36 residents were killed and 345 injured.
- I and other Members of Congress met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in June 2011. The meeting that was supposed to last 20 minutes but went for 2 hours came to an abrupt halt when our delegation asked to see Camp Ashraf where the MEK members lived. Maliki’s mood immediately changed and he said that there was no way we were going to see the Camp. Maliki did not allow us to go because he had something to hide.
- After pressure from the Government of Iraq and the U.S. Government, the remaining residents agreed to be transferred to Camp Hurriya near Baghdad as the UN worked to resettle them in some other country besides Iraq or Iran. But a new camp would still not keep them safe–not while Maliki was under the thumb of an Iranian regime that wanted to decimate the MEK. On three more occasions in 2013, 65 more unarmed residents were killed and over 600 injured. The UN has now resettled 600 residents, but there are still 3,200 living in squalid conditions in Camp Hurriya. They are confined to the Camp, not allowed to leave.
- Lawyers and family members cannot visit them. After a series of rocket attacks killed many of them, residents dug trenches and slept inside them because they had no other way to protect themselves. These conditions are worse than an American prison. This is no way to treat thousands of people who have risked their lives for three decades so that their countrymen may know the sweet taste of freedom. One day, I believe, we will not be talking about ensuring Iranian freedom fighters like the MEK have another country to live in. One day, the Supreme Leader will supremely fall.
- Democracy and freedom will once again flourish in Iran. And the freedom fighters, who have now been fighting for decades, can finally return home to join their families and their countrymen in building a new, peaceful Iran.
- And that’s just the way it is.