WASHINGTON — The U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR) welcomes the remarks by Senate Armed Services Committee Chair and Ranking Member on the need for the U.S. and Iraqi Commitment to protect Camp Ashraf residents in Iraq, home to 3,400 members of Iran’s principal opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). In July 2004, the residents were formally granted “Protected Persons” status under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
During a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the U.S. policy toward Iraq on February 3, 2011, Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), told the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq, that they were concerned about the situation of the residents of Ashraf.
Senator McCain said, “There is a place in Iraq that is inhabited by Iranian refugees called Camp Ashraf and it is been under the protection of American troops. I am concerned about the welfare and well-being and security of these people. I hope that we can address this issue in a way that would reassure them of America and Iraqi government’s commitment to their security.” Senator McCain urged Ambassador Jeffrey to “make some representations to the Iraqi government concerning the situation in Camp Ashraf.”
Referring to the “unresolved issue which is the future of the group that is at Camp Ashraf, which is an Iranian dissident group,” Senator Levin asked Ambassador Jeffrey “I want to know whether or not you believe that the Government of Iraq has the obligation to provide adequate protection for these people and whether or not they are doing it and whether you are confident that if they are providing adequate protection and that they will continue to do so after December.”
Ambassador Jeffrey insisted that “they [Government of Iraq] do have obligations both under international law and a specific written agreement with us from 2008 to both provide adequate humanitarian protection and care of these people.”
USCCAR urges the Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to ensure protection for our loved ones in Camp Ashraf consistent with the sentiments in the US Senate and a bi-partisan majority in the House of Representatives (H.Res.704, 111th Congress), which underscores the U.S. obligation to ensure the protection of the residents of Ashraf.