Massacre at Camp Ashraf: Crimes Against Humanity
In the early morning hours of Sunday, September 1, 2013, Iraqi forces ambushed Camp Ashraf and its 100 unarmed and defenseless residents, members of Iran’s principal opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The Iraqi SWAT Special Forces bombed buildings and then went on a killing spree to finish off the wounded. Nine injured residents were murdered execution-style in the camp’s clinic. The Iraqi Forces executed 52 residents, six of them women. All the deceased “have suffered gunshot wounds, the majority of them in the head and the upper body, and several with their hands tied,” the UN said in a statement. This was a manifest case of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.
The executed Iranian dissidents had been formally recognized as “Protected Persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention, by the US Government in 2004 and carried a photo ID card signed by the US Government officials which guaranteed them protection until their final disposition.
After the illegal transfer of responsibility of protection of the residents to Iraqi Government – a de-facto puppet of the Iranian regime – in 2009, the US continued to refrain from taking effective measures to fulfill its official and written promise. Since 2008, the US Government had been continuously forewarned by the US families of Camp Ashraf residents and by lawmakers and international humanitarian law scholars that the one and only intention of Iraq’s Nouri al-Maliki Government was to exterminate the residents at the behest of Iran’s religious dictatorship. Since then, there has been no shortage of US Administration’s promises, pledges, and assurances. But five massacres later and 113 killed, none have been fulfilled.
While the Iraqi government must be punished, that does not diminish the US responsibility in this massacre, brought about by the State Department persistently reneging on its numerous written and official commitments to protect the residents of camps Ashraf and Liberty.
Following the Sunday’s massacre at Camp Ashraf, the statement issued by the State Department expresses condolences “to the families of the victims and those who were injured in today’s violence.” This feckless statement makes the impression that rather than working to protect the living, the State Department prefers to shed crocodile tears for the dead and their families.
The US Government must now take the following measures if it does not want to find itself lamenting another round of massacres of our loved ones in camps Ashraf and Liberty in the coming days. It must:
- Transfer residents of Camp Liberty and those still alive as of this writing in Camp Ashraf to the United States immediately;
- Ensure that UN Blue Helmets are stationed in these camps until the residents are relocated out of Iraq; and
- Condemn the Iraqi Government for the massacre committed in Camp Ashraf on September 1 and cut off US aid to it. Not a single dollar of US tax payers must be used by al-Maliki’s Government to commit War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.