June 22, 2017

USCCAR Demands Immediate Release of Camp Liberty Resident Taken Hostage by Iraq

Washington, DC, April 6 – The US Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR)strongly condemns the abduction of Mr. Safar Zakery, a resident of Camp Liberty, Iraq, by the Iraqi authorities 21 days ago and demands his immediate release.

Mr. Zakery, 60, has been declared a ‘protected person’ under the Fourth Geneva Convention by the United States since 2004 and recognized as a ‘person of concern’ and ‘entitled to international protection’ by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) since 2011.

On March 16, 2015, he was taken hostage by Iraqi authorities after a car accident while driving a sewage truck in the company of an Iraqi police officer and escorted by another police car. An Iraqi SWAT Forces’ Humvee rammed into his truck but police officers on the scene determined that the driver of the Humvee was at fault.

In a highly questionable move, however, local policemen took Mr. Zakery into custody and despite UNHCR’s call for his release, he has become a virtual hostage at the hands of the Iraqi Government, which has suspiciously informed the Iranian regime’s embassy in Baghdad.

Iraqi lawyers have affirmed that the continued detention of Mr. Zakery, who has not been charged with any violation of Iraqi laws, is illegal.

The unwarranted and illegal detention of Mr. Zakery has prevented him from visiting a hospital to undergo surgery on Sunday, April 5, 2015, for which he had been waiting for more than two years.

USCCAR holds the Iraqi Government fully responsible for the safety, security, and well-being of Mr. Zakery and demands his immediate release and return to Camp Liberty.

USCCAR also calls on the United States Secretary of State to compel the Iraqi Government to end this illegal and politically-motivated detention, which is in violation of December 2008 written commitment given by the Iraqi Government to the United States to fully protect the residents.

Ultimately, the United States and the UNHCR are responsible for the safety and security of Mr. Zakery, since it was based on a Memorandum of Understanding brokered between them and the Iraqi Government that several thousands of Camp Ashraf residents agreed to move to Camp Liberty.