October 24, 2017

ISJ Statement on Camps Liberty and Ashraf and the conduct of the UN Envoy in Iraq

Press Release By: International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ)

Brussels- 27 May 2013 – During the years 2003 to 2008 when protection of Ashraf residents was with the U.S. forces, we, the signatories of this statement, visited this camp once or on several occasions and thoroughly spoke for several days with the residents.

This statement addresses the stance of UN envoy Mr Martin Kobler, who heads the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) regarding Camp Liberty.

We have closely followed the situation in Camp Liberty for the past eighteen months and have reached this bitter conclusion that Mr Kobler’s real mandate has been to close down Ashraf at any price and to dismantle the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main organized opposition to the totalitarian regime ruling Iran.

At a U.S. Congress hearing on 13 September 2012, Mr Tahar Boumedra, a former senior UN official serving in Iraq, disclosed under oath that UNAMI’s decisions on Ashraf are made at the Iraqi prime ministry and the Iranian government’s embassy.

According to international media, just during the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, Mr Kobler met five times with the Iranian ambassador to Iraq Hassan Danaifar, a well-known Quds Force commander, to discuss Ashraf.

Following these meetings, Mr Kobler forcibly evicted the residents from Ashraf, their home of 26 years, and piled them up in Liberty prison. He promised residents that they would be swiftly resettled in third countries, that they would have security in Liberty, and that Liberty enjoys humanitarian standards. Unfortunately these were soon proved to be sheer lies.

In various meetings and interviews, Mr Kobler had claimed that half of the residents would return to Iran after their transfer to Liberty. When this did not happen he began a policy to harass the residents. Making use of his staff under the pretext of UNAMI monitors, he doubled the pressure on residents. Hence, the monitors who were originally supposed to protect the rights of the residents from Iraqi forces’ transgressions were regrettably employed as collaborators of prison wardens to psychologically torture the residents. One of them is an Afghan called Massoud Dorrani who was brought along with him to Iraq from Afghanistan. Neither Dorrani’s administrative rank nor his background qualifies him to occupy this position. Some measures by Mr Kobler’s special agents are as follows:

• Relaying messages from Iran’s intelligence agents to the residents which have caused extensive protests and complaints by the residents. We have written to the UN Secretary-General about this.

• Insulting the residents and carrying out provocative acts to instigate clashes. The residents’ representative in a letter to the UN Secretary-General on 15 March 2013 wrote: “The residents of Liberty … in order to prevent any kind of intentional provocation, they will no longer talk to this person (Dorrani).”

• Repeated and unwarranted entries into resting places of women and men during sleeping hours.

• Repeated and unwarranted entries into bedrooms of the disabled, which cannot be explained other than for the purpose of their psychological torture.

• Encouraging the residents to give up their opposition to the Iranian regime, leave the ranks of PMOI and return to Iran or to go to some hotels in Baghdad which are under the control of the Iranian regime’s intelligence ministry.

• Taking pictures and films of the private places and lives of the residents without their consent.

• Making false accusations and creating dossiers against residents.

Mr Kobler writes letters on a weekly basis to residents’ representatives, sending copies to numerous U.S., European and UN personalities claiming that his monitors are not allowed to visit everywhere in the camp or to talk privately with people and that they are humiliated and boycotted by residents. In his letters he claims that he is worried about violation of residents’ rights by the PMOI or the camp’s leadership!

Our personal acquaintance with Liberty residents, telephone conversations with them, daily examination of Liberty Daily Reports and the repeated behaviour of Mr Kobler force us to the conclusion that in all probability he is in fact not implementing the goals of the UN but rather playing into the hands of officials and regimes who have every intention to liquidate the inhabitants.

In light of the above points, we underscore the followings:

1. While approving the contents of ISJ president’s letter to the U.S. Secretary of State on 3 May 2013, we reiterate:

“Liberty residents are a most valuable part of the Iranian society with considerable political expertise and many years of experience in struggling against the mullahs’ regime. Their only goal is to free their homeland and it is natural that they will not accept dissolving or annihilating their organization at any price. In any turn of events, they are a reliable force that can be the determining factor in moving Iran towards democracy and stability, preventing extremism and internal war. This is the very element whose absence in the Arab world has resulted in deviation of the Arab spring from its democratic origins. There are no alternatives to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) that has its roots in the struggle of the Iranian people for freedom which began in early 20th century.”

2. Measures conducted by Mr Kobler and his staff in Liberty are criminal and need to be investigated in a competent court so that such crimes would not be repeated in Liberty or Ashraf or any other place under the name of United Nations. Considering our knowledge about the PMOI, Ashraf and Liberty residents, Mr Kobler’s deeds, the situation of Iraqi and Iranian governments, we are ready to testify before any international legal authority.

3. All indications show there is a genuine difference between Mr Martin Kobler’s action and other mistakes of UN in issues like Rwanda, Srebrenica and Sri-Lanka. Usually in such cases, the negligence or the fear of a UN senior official has contributed to the occurrence of catastrophe; but as to the case of Ashraf and Martin Kobler, the issue, much beyond a fear or negligence, is a clear collusion with the perpetrators of massacre and repression and siege.

4. The U.S. government has a significant role in the issue of Ashraf and Liberty. This government was the one that unarmed the residents of Ashraf in 2003, recognized their status as Protected Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention in July 2004, and in violation of this very Convention handed over their protection responsibility to Iraqi forces in 2009. Over the past one and half years, the U.S. government, through its highest officials, has specified its support for the safety and security of Liberty residents and asked for the relocation of residents from Ashraf to Liberty. Accordingly, the U.S. government would be more responsible than before vis-à-vis any bloodshed of the residents.

5. We urge President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, High Commissioner António Guterres and High Commissioner Navi Pillay:
Firstly- To discharge Mr Kobler from the case of Ashraf and Liberty and to hand over the responsibility of these two camps within the United Nations to UNHCR;
Secondly- The residents should be returned to Ashraf immediately in order to enjoy relative security, and be resettled gradually from there to third countries;
Thirdly- We ask for an international investigative delegation, by common consent, to look into the actions of Mr Martin Kobler and his staff against the residents of Ashraf and Liberty. Their investigations should be made public.

Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice-President of the European Parliament, President of International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ)
Raymond Tanter, Former Member US. National Security Council Staff
Yves Bonnet, Former Director of French Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DST)
Tunne Kelam, Member of the European Parliament – Estonia
Morten Hoglund, Member of the Norwegian Parliament, Head of the Foreign Relations of Progressive Party
Paulo Casaca, Member of European Parliament (1999-2009) – Portugal
André Brie, Member of European Parliament (1999-2009) – Germany
Mogens Camre, Member of European Parliament (1999-2009) – Former Member of Danish Parliament
Lars Rise, Former Member of the Norwegian Parliament
Senator Marco Perduca, Former Secretary, Italian Senate Special Commission on Human Rights
Francois Serres, Executive Director, International Committee of Jurists in Defence of Ashraf
Kenneth Lewis, Lawyer & Barrister, Head of the Lewis Law Firm, Sweden
Vidar Raugland, Lawyer & Barrister, Head of the Raugland Law Firm, Norway
Gilles Paruelle, Chair of the Bar Association of Val d’Oise, France
Signe Rise, Lawyer, Norway
Antonio Stango, Secretary-General, Italian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
Yuliya Vassilyeva, Member of the Board, Hands Off Cain
Giancarlo Boselli, Former Deputy Mayor of the Italian city of Cuneo (sister city of Ashraf)

*About ISJ:
In 2008, several senior Euro MPs initiated the International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ) which brought together prominent international politicians and jurists to challenge the unjust blacklisting of the PMOI in Europe. We successfully won the courts in UK and in Luxembourg and justice was done to PMOI in Europe when they were de-listed from both British and EU blacklists in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The PMOI (MEK) was finally removed from the USA black list on 28 September 2012.