Ashraf: Denver joins in worldwide solidarity rally for Iranian people

13 08 2009

All around the world, solidarity rallies were held Saturday (8/8/09) in support of the Iranian people who have fought for democracy in Iran, and for the defenseless Ashraf residents in Iraq who were viciously attacked on July 28 and 29. Some supporters around the globe are also partaking in a hunger strike to bring attention to the inhumane and unprovoked attack on the Ashraf Camp, of roughly 3500 residents, by Iraqi forces.

The International Day of Solidarity with Ashraf rally held in Denver, at the Capitol, consisted of about 50 people, sponsored by the Colorado Iranian American Community. Understandably, the atmosphere was rather sober and solemn, yet smiles came easily when passing motorists honked horns to show their support. One of the most popular signs was a photograph of Neda, most likely recognized by many due to recent press coverage on the violence against those involved in post-election demonstrations in Iran.

There were several speakers, all of whom spoke of the courageous men and women who have fought for freedom and democracy in Iran. The serious situation regarding the unarmed Iranian dissidents in Ashraf was explained, as well. All speakers condemned the brutal attacks and stated that the US has a responsibility to continue to protect these people as promised. Speakers called for America to protect the Iranian exiles in Ashraf until the crisis is resolved, and for the Iraqi forces to withdraw from Ashraf, and to return the 36 residents who were arrested.

Ana Sami gave the introduction. She received her Masters degree at the Colorado School of Mines, majoring in International Political Economy of Resources; and she is a specialist on human rights and women’s issues in Iran. Ms. Sami stated that the Ashraf residents voluntarily gave up all of their weapons to US forces after the 2003 invasion. She reported that there is ample footage showing the attack on the unarmed people in Ashraf, beating them “with cutters, wooden boards, and guns”, and that what has happened is a “crime against humanity.” She stated that, “thirteen people have been killed, over 500 have been injured, and 36 people have been abducted with reports of torture and immenent risk of being transfered to Iranian prisons.”

Tom Tancredo, former US Congressman from Littleton, who has been a long-time supporter of the Iranian resistance, shared a few words of support, as well. He recently wrote an informative article published in The Washington Times detailing the history and current crisis of the Ashraf Camp. Tancredo states that, “Early in 2009, the U.S. military turned over to Iraq the responsibility for protecting Camp Ashraf despite the fact that the 2003 written agreement with the residents of Ashraf specified that the U.S. would protect them until their final status in Iraq was decided.”Ashraf history and current crisis

Following is a SBS/Dateline documentary from 2004 on Ashraf with this statement included: “The new Iraqi government has pledged to repatriate them as soon as they gain sovereignty. But that’s a prospect that’s worrying many. “If they return to Iran, they’re going to be executed straight away,” fears Iranian exile Mohammed Sadeghpour. Lawyer Bruce Henry is adamant that deporting the camp’s residents would violate international law. But even he knows their safety is not guaranteed admits he “would be very nervous if I was sitting in Camp Ashraf today.”

Faezeh Sami, President of Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran spoke passionately, stating that despite assurances by both the United States and Iraq with regard to “humane treatment” of Ashraf residents, “On Tuesday, July 28th, the unarmed and defenseless residents of the camp came under violent attack by the Iraqi forces carrying batons, chains, axes, heavy machinery, and guns.” She also said that Iranian media persons were allowed into the camp to gain intelligence on the Iranian resistence members.

Americans Against Terrorism had several members present to stand with the Colorado Iranian American Community. Here is a quote from the AAT statement presented at the rally: “We have been saddened and shocked at the brutal terror exporters that reside in the government of Iran which have massacred their own hopeful youth, and continue to export their tactics abroad to places like Iraq where the Iranian opposition resides. We watched in horror as the Iraqi police force beat and killed unarmed members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and we urge the Obama administration to ensure the protection of these defenseless individuals as promised to them under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

It is significant to mention that this event included Muslims, Jews, and Christians who stood in unity for the cause of freedom for the Iranian people. Bill Kirton, a member of the Methodist Clergy thanked the Iranian American community for “waking him up” on the issue of Iran and Ashraf. He added that he has “listened to the stories of Iranian Americans throughout the years” and wants “to go to Iran to see the historic sites and experience the poetry, but in a free Iran.”



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