Speech by Struan Stevenson, President European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) & Former Chair of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014)
DELEGATION FOR RELATIONS WITH IRAQ INTERPARLIAMENTARY MEETING
THURSDAY 3rd DECEMBER 2015
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, BRUSSELS
Mr President, Hon. Members of the European Parliament and Hon. Members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, Salam Aleikom ! I am very happy to see you here in Brussels. It is a great privilege for me to have been invited to address this meeting today. Indeed it brings back fond memories of the 5 tense years that I chaired this delegation and my frequent visits to Iraq. It is also a particular privilege to pay my respects to my great friend and colleague David Campbell-Bannerman, who now chairs this Delegation. It is reassuring to know it is in such good hands.
During my last year in Parliament I formed a non-profit organisation (NGO) here in Brussels, called the European Iraqi Freedom Association or EIFA. Many Iraqis encouraged me to continue to follow the situation in Iraq and I am trying to do that. The Facebook of EIFA now has more than 46,000 fans or likes. I am really grateful to many people in Iraq who have expressed sympathy and support for our work. I have tried to defend the people of Iraq, whether they are Shiias, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians, or a multitude of other ethnic communities.
I have tried to be quite blunt and outspoken in defending the rights of the Iraqi and Iranian people. I have done this without fear of being on bad terms with the government in power. This is the price we have decided to pay for our principles which is defending democracy and human rights.
I have been under a lot of pressure and even accusations by the two regimes currently in power in Iran and Iraq. Over the years I have become a target of numerous attacks and misinformation campaigns by the mullahs in Tehran and by supporters of Maliki in Baghdad. But the only thing I have gained is the sympathy and support of the people in these two countries who have suffered so much under Islamic fundamentalism. We have tried to be their voice in Europe. And this is enough for me. So today please allow me to express my opinion and the views of the European Iraqi Freedom Association, in the hope that our efforts will contribute to helping the people in Iraq which is the subject of our debate today.