30 July 2016 : London
05 August 2016 : Bristol
25 August 2016 : London
Since our last newsletter we have had two events: one in London and one in Bristol. Please let us take this opportunity to thank everyone who was there in person or in spirit. We felt your presence at our side and we are very proud of you all.
Below you will see a selection of the contents of the talks as well as reflections about the events enhanced with photos of the two occasions.
STRUAN STEVENSON: It is a privilege for me to have been invited to London to address you.
I was a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and President of the Delegation for Relations with Iraq during my final 5-year mandate. That meant I was able to visit Iraq and the Middle East and see for myself the abject failure of the West’s policy of appeasement in respect of the Iranian mullahs and their marionettes in Iraq. I was able to learn at firsthand about the Iraqi government’s repeated attempts to annihilate the defenceless refugees in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, under the guidance of the Iranian regime, while the US, UN and EU stood back apathetically and watched, in a classic act of betrayal… As far as the mullahs are concerned they want to eliminate all of the people in Liberty or they want to make them give up and surrender. The US and the West also prefer just to sit on the sidelines and never commit themselves to any responsibility. So it is only because of your efforts and your support that we have managed to save most of the people in Ashraf and Liberty and I hope that by the end of this year or early next year at the latest we may finally have airlifted the last of the refugees from Camp Liberty to countries of safety.
LORD CLARKE: As always, it’s a great pleasure to be with those people who are working so hard to help those people in desperate need and in particular in Liberty, and before that all the work you did for the residents of Ashraf. It’s a pleasure because too often in this nation of ours, we don’t talk about what people do. As often as I can, I explain that the good people in this country are fairly ashamed of our government, just see the film of what Albania could do, just imagine if our nation was to do just a fraction of what the Albanian people are doing. It’s a matter of great shame that year after year, resolution after resolution about the appalling human rights record of the regime in Tehran, it goes almost unnoticed by our media. I’ve lost count of the number of resolutions there have been through the Security Council condemning what goes on, but it does go on, the executions go on, the persecution of youngsters, the stoning of people, the litany of appalling human rights abuses goes on. One of the other pleasures of being here this afternoon was to hear Struan Sevenson. What a wonderful man. He gives the information as it should be given. If I had my way he’d be on the radio and television every day. Struan is a tower of strength to those of us who are privileged enough to be in Parliament…
I just wanted to conclude as I started. Thank you. You are the life-blood that beats in the hearts of those people that are being oppressed. You are the people that when they pray, they pray that you will be able to continue what you do, because what you do is a wonderful thing, and I thank you on behalf of all my Parliamentary colleagues for the work you do to make their life a bit, just a bit more bearable, and I wish you nothing but success in the future.
TAHAR BOUMEDRA (former head of UN Human Rights in Iraq): Friends, it’s exactly four years since I left Iraq, Baghdad, and as she just told you that I left Iraq after resigning from the United Nations and after opposing the policies I witnessed that were practised against the Ashrafis, and probably those of you who visit or heard about it, Ashraf was a bit of desert when they went there in 1986, and when they left it in 2011- 2012, it was the best organised city in Iraq. It just tells you, gives you an idea how hard-working these people are, how enduring these people are, how patient they are, and when they gave up Ashraf they went to Liberty…
Now the situation really is improving so much, thanks to your efforts, thanks to the support and the solidarity you have shown, and believe it or not, I feel that when I saw you like this, I feel that really, what I did at the United Nations, my resignation is really worthwhile, because here you are, I am not alone, a lot of people are supporting this cause and we all together work towards having the Ashrafis leaving Iraq in safety and security with their property. Let’s continue putting pressure on all concerned, and thank you very much for being here today and for giving me this opportunity to talk to you.
LIZ CARTER: I feel that we have breathed in so much love and gratitude this afternoon, and what I’ve learnt about life through being with these people, through the journey that we have made and I’ve made especially these last seven years, is that it really is the leaven of the world, so having breathed in a whole load of love and gratitude, we kind of need to breathe it out again, and spread it right round the world. To come on to the 9th of July, that was a fantastic, amazing experience, and wonderful to have three people here today, Lord Clarke, who I know was there in spirit even though he couldn’t be there in person and Tahar Boumedra and Struan Stevenson who epitomise, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve supported for forty years, thirty years, as people like Tony Clarke have or for four years as people like Tahar Boumedra, it is the spirit of dedication, commitment, integrity, honesty and preparedness to speak out firmly and clearly and simply and tell the truth, and for that, for that I bless my time by having met the Iranians because I have met so many personalities, not all 600 of them but quite a few, who have restored one’s faith in human nature, one’s faith that there are people in high places who do have integrity and honesty and speak the truth, and when you speak the truth you can speak it firmly and clearly, because it is the truth. When someone starts going round the houses, either they don’t understand what they’re talking about or they’re trying to conceal something. When someone knows clearly and utterly what the truth is, then they can speak that, very simply, very plainly, in very few words.
ROSALIND TOPPING: I’m very pleased to be here. I want to say a huge thank you to the International Liberty Association for their hospitality today.
I’ve been a supporter of the Iranian struggle for freedom for four or five years and I have attended many events of the International Liberty Association, and I’ve been to several Paris Grand Gatherings. I was there this year and I can attest what others have said, that it was a truly remarkable experience, and I think it showed how things have moved in the last year. I was extremely moved by the video that we saw in Paris and this evening, where the young people presented their thoughts and their wishes and their messages symbolised in a rose. That was an act of extraordinary courage.
Yes, I have helped out a bit today and am – it has made me think, yet again, about the stature of the people with whom we are sharing this evening. The Iranian volunteers are really extraordinary people and I consider it a privilege to be able to help them.
The thought that goes into everything that they do, the integrity with which they plan and think, the sensitivity and the sheer graciousness that we’re all familiar with, and they keep going, they keep walking towards their goal, nothing dissuades them and nothing appears to disillusion them or allow them one moment of despair.
I think hope is a very, very powerful force in the world, and sometimes we are tempted by the appalling news that we hear daily. We just could be tempted to despair at the state of humanity. We know that human beings are capable of the most appalling atrocities, and we receive reports of this every day, but also human nature is capable of extraordinary positive values and efforts, and the people of Iran, the volunteers here and all of you supporters, by being here, are demonstrating that there are things to be stood up for: truth and justice and love.
Faith is the essence of things hoped for, and I certainly believe that all of us will live to see great things, huge change and, for the people of Iran who deserve the best, I believe that they will see a transformation in their country and the rest of the world will benefit. So thank you for this evening, International Liberty Association, on behalf of the UK supporters.
HOLLY: The next song that I’m going to sing, I actually went over to Albania recently and the song that I’m about to sing to you was written by some really talented Ashrafis who – it’s theirs – I’m kind of their voice and their thanks to all of you who have supported and who have, you know, contributed to this cause in every way. So, thank you:
For every moment you shared the hope that
In the dark of the night there is a shining star
Yeah, all the times that you braved the odds and
For the courage you show and helped us come so far
Yes, for every moment you held on For everything you’ve done
We thank you, thank you …
AND YOUR COMMENTS
BARRY: My belated thanks for inviting me to the fascinating afternoon event on 30th July, – which was very informative and enjoyable. The pictures shown at Westbourne Grove were heart-warming and it is good to know of the kindness of the Albanians who have taken in residents of Camp Liberty, showing a big heart from such a small and poor country.
Congratulations on your better news lately and all the very best for the future.
MARCIA: The recent social event in central London was wonderful, and to be greeted at the door so lovingly by two ladies who have so recently been released from Camp ‘Liberty’ was so moving.
This is wonderful news that 1,700 residents have now been brought out to the freedom and safety of Albania, and it is incredibly impressive that Albania has opened its heart to these oppressed and brave people.
JANET: Thank you and everyone at ILA for an excellent ‘gathering’ at Westbourne Park. The whole afternoon and evening was so efficiently and enjoyably organised.
DIANA: I am writing to thank you all for hosting such a superb event – the best ever, I think, though they all have been most enjoyable.
I thought the programme was very well balanced. It was (as always) a great pleasure and privilege to hear Struan Stevenson, Lord Clarke and Tahar Boumedra. Even more of a privilege, and humbling, to hear those brave Iranians thanking us for our support, at great risk to their own safety.
I was particularly interested in the video clips of the Paris Gathering as I had regrettably missed the meeting this year. It was certainly a most impressive event, which this year broke new ground, so I much appreciated the chance of seeing it.
The musical interludes were delightful, much enjoyed; and especial thanks to the young lady who provided the continuity – I thought she did an excellent job.
Familiar as we are with the high standards of Iranian hospitality, I think all the supporters would agree that you surpassed yourselves. We were looked after in every possible way, plied with delicious food and treats, by no less than an army of volunteers, while being educated, informed and entertained. Such hard work, such careful planning, such a fantastic result! Thank you All!