WASHINGTON, May 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR), representing Iranian-Americans with families residing in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, applauds the bold and courageous decision by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to hold a hearing into Iraq’s massacre at Camp Ashraf last month and a possible cover up.
USCCAR declares its readiness to assist the planned probe.
“The shooting of unarmed women and children by Iraqi troops at Camp Ashraf is not a diplomatic incident to be explained away by our State Department,” said Rep. Rohrabacher. “It is a crime against humanity. My oversight subcommittee will hold a hearing to investigate this massacre to hold accountable those responsible, including those in our own government, who may have tried to cover up what happened.”
Rep. Rohrabacher added, “The Iraqi Government has been blocking access to the refugee camp and the U.S. State Department is also prohibiting Members of Congress from visiting the location for fear it might upset the Iraqi Government.”
On May 25, 2011, at an international conference in Paris, General Wesley Clark, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander (1997-2000), said, “I spent 38 years in uniform; I helped negotiate the peace agreement in Bosnia with [former the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations] Richard Holbrook; and I was the NATO commander and I think I know a war crime when I see it. And I think there should be an immediate action taken by the International Criminal Court to investigate what happened in Ashraf.”
On April 14, 2011, in a hearing at the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Ranking Member, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), said, “In private discussions, the Iraqi ambassador’s office has said the blood is not on the hands of the Iraqi government but is at least partially on the hands of the State department because the MEK is listed as a terrorist group and accordingly, Iraq doesn’t feel that it has to respect the human rights of those in the camp.”
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Sherman introduced H. RES. 231 which “urges the Government of Iraq to uphold its commitment to the United States to ensure the continued well-being of those living in Camp Ashraf and prevent their involuntary return to Iran in accordance with United States Embassy Statement on Transfer of Security Responsibility for Camp Ashraf of December 28, 2008;” and “calls upon the President to take all necessary and appropriate steps to support the commitments of the United States to ensure the physical security and protection of Camp Ashraf residents.”
H. RES. 704, co-sponsored by a bi-partisan majority (224 members) in the 111th Congress, also “deplores the ongoing violence by Iraqi security forces against the residents of Camp Ashraf,” and “calls upon the President to take all necessary and appropriate steps to support the commitments of the United States under international law and treaty obligations to ensure the physical security and protection of Camp Ashraf residents against inhumane treatment and involuntary deportation by Iraqi security forces.”
On May 25, 2011, commenting on some news reports about a U.S. proposed plan to relocate Ashraf residents within Iraq, Lord Paddy Ashdown, the European Union High representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (2002-2006), stressed, “I think Washington does understand that it is illegal under international law to forcibly relocate refugees. It can only be done on a voluntary basis. Let me just remind you if Iraq or anybody else were to act to forcibly relocate these people, they will be acting in direct contravention of international law and anybody who aids and abets that process by standing aside when they can stop it, is at least party to that act.”
The U.S. government is already aware of the threats to safety of the residents of the camp in the event of forcible relocation inside Iraq. On October 28, 2009, Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, told a Congressional hearing: “We’re actually more concerned about an Iraqi desire to move Camp Ashraf to someplace else inside Iraq. The expectation is not that they’re going to expel the MEK Camp Ashraf residents, but that they would try to move them — forcibly move them to a different location in Iraq, and that, too, could lead to bloodshed.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) has said in a statement, “United Nations confirmation of the scope of last week’s tragedy at Camp Ashraf is deeply disturbing and the Iraqi military action is simply unacceptable. Corrective action is imperative. First, the Iraqis must stop the bleeding and refrain from any further military action against Camp Ashraf. Second, the Iraqi government has announced a full investigation into the massacre and it must be thorough and serious. The investigation must hold accountable the responsible parties and ensure that there will be no sequel to these horrific events. Third, the current situation at the camp is untenable. The United States must redouble efforts with all the relevant parties – including the Iraqi government, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Mujahedin-e Khalq itself – to seek a peaceful and durable solution, and to find permanent homes for the residents of Camp Ashraf.”
USCCAR calls on all relevant U.S. Senate committees to also launch their own probe, considering that the Iraqi government has ignored Senator Kerry’s call for a full, thorough, and serious investigation into the April 8, 2011, massacre.
USCCAR urges the Obama Administration to abide by its obligations under Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and ensure a safe and secure future for our loved ones in Camp Ashraf.
SOURCE U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR)