Venerating without spending a dime

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By Ashraf Farshid, Camp Liberty hunger striker

Less than a week ago, Nelson Mandela, the historic leader of South Africa passed away. The heads of states and foreign affairs ministers offered condolences. Even Ban Ki Moon expressed his commiseration instead of remaining silent! The UN Security Council held a minute of silence in Mandela’s honor. Obama spoke offered kind words and the American flag was half-raised to pay homage to Mandela.

These are all actions taken by international bodies and governments after the death of this historic national leader. But was Mandela treated so kindly when he was still alive?

In 1956, when Mandela was arrested, did he not deserve to be supported? Did he not deserve to be freed in order to continue leading the movement against racism? In 1962, when he was arrested again and condemned to lifetime in prison, did he not deserve support? Didn’t the United Nations and the Security Council exist at that time? Hadn’t Columbus discovered America yet? How is it that a leader is labeled a traitor when he is alive, and has to spend 27 years in prison while the international community idly sits by and does nothing to secure his release, and it is only after he dies that they start to express gratitude for his services to the oppressed people of South Africa? Why did the Security Council remain silent when it could’ve helped Mandela in his cause to free his people?

We’re talking about the same council that has done nothing to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons against the innocent children of Syria.

Then again, there’s no need to be surprised, for Mandela’s case was not an exception. If you look through history, there are numerous instances of the same pattern of behavior: Spartacus was venerated after his death; Joann of Arc became a holy national symbol after she was burned to death; Che Guevara became an international symbol of freedom after he was brutally executed in Bolivia; after ten years, it is suddenly discovered that Arafat was poisoned, and subsequently leaders of the world express their condolences (as if they didn’t know all along); it took fifty years for the US to feel sorry about the plot to depose Mosadegh, the leader of oil nationalization in Iran. There are thousands of other leaders and patriots who were slandered and defamed, only to be respected and venerated after their death.

It is a known that leaders move in front of the people: they lead. But alas, we seem to live in an era that the leaders are not even trailing behind, but are waiting for people to die and cease to exist so that they can pay homage and respects. Of course, in death, the person in question will no longer be a threat to the interests of these gentlemen.

It is 48 years that the PMOI is subject to the same kind of behavior. It’s been 35 years that this organization is warning the world about the threat of extremism, and more than a decade that it is sounding the alarm about the Iranian regime’s nuclear program. Members of the organization have laid down their lives for the cause of freedom, but the international community continues to sleep. The UN Security Council doesn’t even bother to condemn the mass execution of thirty thousand political prisoners in the span of a few months. It didn’t even hold thirty seconds of silence for those souls, let alone taking action to save the lives of seven hostages who were under UN protection and are now being tortured in the dungeons of the Iraqi government.

Truly, are Mr. Obama and Ban Ki Moon waiting for years to pass before acknowledging the role that the PMOI played in maintaining peace and security in the region and the world?

It is now more than three months that Obama and the UN are silent about the massacre of 52 people and the abduction of seven others from Camp Ashraf on September 1st, a deafening silence that can only be interpreted as bestowing support to the perpetrators of this crime, the Iraqi forces under the direct command of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, the protégé of the mullahs in Iran.

The mullahs’ nuclear program is only one of the many aspects of the threat that the Iranian regime poses to world peace and security. You cannot simply close your eyes to the violation of human rights and the murder of innocent people in order to strike a deal with the mullahs. The silence regarding the crime against humanity in Ashraf, committed by the Iraqi government at the behest of the Iranian regime, must be broken. In no way do political interests justify the violation of human rights and neglecting the rights of those who struggle for freedom.

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