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US Rally Calls for Protection of Iranian dissidents

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In an effort to prevent a humanitarian disaster, thousands of Iranians held a rally outside the US State Department to call for the protection of 3,400 Iranians resident in Camp Ashraf, Iraq and an end to the US ban on Iran's largest opposition group, the Mujahedeen e Khalq (MEK). The issues are intertwined, because the residents of Camp Ashraf are supporters and members of the MEK.

The rally was addressed by US politicians and former national security officials who called on Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to listen to the thousands of Iranians gathered and end the US ban on the MEK. Their call was made not only because an end to the ban would allow the Camp Ashraf residents to be better protected, but because the ban is unjustified and lacking any legal basis.

Undoubtedly the US attitude towards the MEK has given the Iranian regime and its Iraqi counterparts the green light to carry out atrocities against the group. In the last two years, over 50 residents have been killed in Iraqi military assaults on the defenseless Camp and many more have been executed in Iran for their links to the group. The current US ban on the MEK has allowed the Iraqi government to do Tehran's bidding on Iraqi soil on the US watch in that country.

My personal story of having suffered the Iranian regime's terrorism tells us much about the great lengths this regime in Iran will go to silence its opponents.

I narrowly escaped death in 1990 in Istanbul, Turkey, where I was assisting Iranian refugees. The regime's terrorists ambushed our car, and I was shot several times, once very close to my heart. My liver was pierced and has suffered permanent damage. It is currently being held together in a plastic mesh. Even after the assassination attempt, the regime twice tried to end my life in hospital where I was being treated. On one occasion, the regime sent its terrorists under the cover of Turkish police officers and on another they pretended to be friends visiting me. But on both occasions my colleagues who were in the hospital and police officers at the scene managed to foil the plot at the last minute.

At that time it was I who suffered the consequences of western misguided policies and today it is the residents of Camp Ashraf. These residents are today being slaughtered on Iraqi soil with the justification that the MEK is banned in the US, a ban which has been proven in the UK and EU courts to be perverse and flawed.

For the past 14 years the MEK has been unjustifiably banned to placate the Mullahs regime, in a vain hope that the Mullahs in Iran can be moderated. The time has come to end this illegitimate ban, because it is this ban today that is being used by Iran to carry out executions and this ban which the Iraqi authorities seek as justification for the massacring of unarmed civilians at Camp Ashraf.

Now Secretary of State Clinton must do what is just. She must do what the legal system of the United States requires her to do and what the courts of the UK and EU have shown to be the legally correct path in immediately removing the MEK from the US list of banned organizations. The judgments of the British and European courts have unequivocally proven that no case exists for maintaining a ban on the MEK.

The issue of delisting the MEK and hence preventing the massacre of Ashraf residents as Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President elect of the National Council of Resistance has said "is the very test for the universal values that President Obama has committed himself to.''

Hilary Clinton must now answer the calls of the Iranian people and delist the MEK, sending a clear message to the people of Iran that we support their battle for freedom and democracy.