November 17, 2017

Lawmakers urge the U.S. to save 7 Camp Ashraf hostages

WASHINGTON – PRNewswire – In a Congressional briefing, a bipartisan group of lawmakers called on the United States Government to accept a significant number of the residents of Camp Liberty, members of the main Iranian opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI), as political refugees.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Chair of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, described what happened on the September 1st massacre at Camp Ashraf as, “Shameful on the part of the Iraqi government that has no shame, but its shameful on the part of the United States as well… It’s time that we grant political asylum to all of the people of Camp Liberty, and to end this tragic episode before there are any more massacres in Iraq,” the California Republican stressed.

“No more money to Iraq until we get accountability for what happened to [MEK in Camp Ashraf]. Let’s just make it clear, you’re not getting more American money Mr. Maliki unless there is accountability as to who did this, and second to ensure that [Camp Liberty residents] are safe,” Judge Ted Poe (R-TX), Chair of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, non-Proliferation and Trade, underscored.

“We’ve stood by and watched as [Camps Ashraf residents] have been systematically slaughtered by Iraqi troops using weapons and equipment supplied by the United States and training provided by the United States, while the United States government has stood by and done nothing… All 52 people that were killed at Ashraf had ID cards issued by the United States that recognized them as ‘Protected Persons,'” the 81st Attorney General of the United States, Michael Mukasey added.

The chair of Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said, “Seven residents as we know were kidnapped and remain hostages in Iraq. What makes this already horrible tragedy, even more egregious, is that this massacre was reportedly perpetrated by the very same Iraqi forces who are suppose to be protecting these residents.”

“Prime Minister Maliki needs to be told, and will be told, that the hostages need to be released as soon as possible… and we need to be calling on John Kerry which we will, to uphold the US commitment to the residents who were deemed protected persons in 2004, and as asylum seekers by the UN refugee agency in 2011,” Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) said.

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) said the United States had “an obligation to ensure the security, safety, and basic rights of those refugees. We must do all that we can to ensure that no more innocent lives are lost.”

Col. Wesley Martin, as the former Chief Anti-terrorism, Protection Officer for Coalition Forces in Iraq said that it was undoubtedly the Iraqi forces which were involved in the attack, “Ashraf was totally, totally surrounded, 360 degrees, by Iraqi forces. There is no way anybody could come in or leave without engagement of the Iraqi forces.”

Camp Ashraf Commandant in 2003 Col. Thomas Cantwell, added, “I was responsible for security all around the camp. Once you get outside of the perimeter wall, it’s all desert with the exception of the structures that have been put up by security forces. It is simply unbelievable that this hours-long attack that included the use of explosives and multiple small arms fire shots, was not detected by the Iraqi security forces. It is beyond the realm, to believe that somehow they weren’t complicit in some sort of way.”