WASHINGTON, April 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a Conference on Thursday, 14 April 2011, former senior U.S. government officials strongly condemned the Iraqi military's deadly assault on Camp Ashraf on April 8, 2011, which left 34 residents dead, including 8 women, and more than 300 wounded.
Ambassador Mitchell Reiss who moderated the conference highlighted the "promise that the United States made to ensure that the residents of Camp Ashraf were protected, the failure so far of the Obama administration, the Iraqi government and the international community to fulfill that promise and the ongoing threat posed by the Iranian regime to men and women everywhere who believe in freedom and democracy." He said that "Despite serving in different branches of the U.S. government, differences in our political affiliations, we are united this morning in a common cause, to seek justice for the people of Camp Ashraf and to remove the MEK from the State Department's terrorism list."
The Conference featured Gen. Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander for Europe; Gen. Richard Myers, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; Admiral Dennis Blair, former Director of National Intelligence, Porter Goss, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; former Senators Evan Bayh and Bill Bradley; former White House Spokeswoman, Dana Perino, and Col. Wes Martin, former commander of counterterrorism for the coalition forces in Iraq. The event was organized by Near East Human Rights Initiative, whose founding member, Bruce McColm, commenced the conference.
"I cannot be with you today to join with you in the mourning of the horrific loss of life in Camp Ashraf to yet another unprovoked attack on unarmed civilians by Iraqi forces. This most recent attack… should never have happened. It certainly should never happen again. I hope that the United Nations will also conduct a full investigation into the events of last week as well. Those who planned and executed this attack should be held accountable for their actions and we should lead the international effort to do everything possible to ensure that a similar tragedy is not repeated," wrote Gen. James Jones, former National Security Advisor to President Obama, in a statement.Judge Mukasey said, "What is happening in Ashraf is a human rights tragedy and a political disgrace for the United States because it occurred after U.S. troops withdrew and while the United States Secretary of Defense was himself in Iraq visiting. Human rights organizations, the United States must be given access to Ashraf and a report made public on what happened and why it happened. Make no mistake about it. What has enabled this, what has allowed it to happen and whether it is going to continue to allow it to happen again unless we do something about it, is the continued listing of the MEK as a terrorist organization on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations." In his remarks, Gen. Wesley Clark expressed his personal condolences to residents of Camp Ashraf, saying, "All Americans appreciate the courage and the dedication you've shown there and our hearts are with you." The former Supreme Allied Commander for Europe added, "When I look at what happened at Camp Ashraf over this past weekend I find it absolutely deplorable and inexplicable. We did make a promise they would be protected persons. That's the word of the United States of America. That's important, it's time. We talk about American credibility, there it is." "How can we hope to help those inside Iran who are seeking a more open and liberated government if we can't help those in Camp Ashraf who are simply asking for protection and an opportunity to live their lives in peace. Surely the United States of America can do that and we must," Gen. Clark stressed in closing. Gen. Myers also opened his remarks by expressing his condolences "to our friends at Camp Ashraf," saying "the residents of Camp Ashraf are unarmed and the folks that were shooting at them were aiming their fire. This was aimed fire. This wasn't firing in the air to try to influence behavior. The other thing that struck me was the number of women that we saw in the hospital." "But what courage [shown] by the folks of the Camp! Courage by those that were taking pictures," he added.