October 22, 2017

Iranian-Americans rally at White House to demand US uphold its commitments to Iranian dissidents in Iraq

Washington, DC, April 14 – Iranian-Americans rallied outside on Tuesday as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with President Obama at the White House. The demonstrators used the opportunity to demand that the United States uphold its commitments to the safety and security of thousands of Iranian dissidents residing in Camp Liberty, Iraq.

Iranian Americans and supporters protest the conditions at Camp Liberty, a former US military base in Iraq now used to house exiled Iranian dissidents, during a rally outside the White House in Washington, DC, April 14, 2015. The group wants the US and Iraq to ensure the safety and security of residents of the camp and for it to be declared a refugee camp under UN control. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Iranian Americans and supporters protest the conditions at Camp Liberty, a former US military base in Iraq now used to house exiled Iranian dissidents, during a rally outside the White House in Washington, DC, April 14, 2015. The group wants the US and Iraq to ensure the safety and security of residents of the camp and for it to be declared a refugee camp under UN control. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite the steady rain, the protesters chanted and held placards urging Mr. al-Abadi to provide protection to some 2500 Liberty residents and to remove all restrictions, including limitations imposed on the residents’ access to proper medical treatment.

The residents of Camp Liberty are members of the main Iranian opposition group the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK), are protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and have been declared persons of concern by the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

Speakers at the event, including representatives of Iranian-American communities, political and religious dignitaries stressed that 116 innocent refugees had been killed in violent attacks on the camp at the behest of the Iranian regime. Additionally, they pointed out that 22 Camp Liberty residents had died because of lack of access to proper medical treatment.

Iranian Americans and supporters protest the conditions at Camp Liberty, a former US military base in Iraq now used to house exiled Iranian dissidents, during a rally outside the White House in Washington, DC, April 14, 2015. The group wants the US and Iraq to ensure the safety and security of residents of the camp and for it to be declared a refugee camp under UN control. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Iranian Americans and supporters protest the conditions at Camp Liberty, a former US military base in Iraq now used to house exiled Iranian dissidents, during a rally outside the White House in Washington, DC, April 14, 2015. The group wants the US and Iraq to ensure the safety and security of residents of the camp and for it to be declared a refugee camp under UN control. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Col. Wesley Martin, formerly stationed at Camp Ashraf as senior anti-terrorism and force protection officer for coalition forces in Iraq, was among the speakers at the event. Also among them were Professor Raymond Tanter, a senior National Security Council staffer during the Reagan administration; Professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan, director of the Negotiation & Conflict Resolution Management Program at the University of Baltimore; Bruce McColm, former executive director of Freedom House; and Steven Schneebaum, legal counsel for Camp Liberty residents and a professorial lecturer at Johns Hopkins University.

Speakers underscored the need to the Iraqi Government to declare Camp Liberty as a refugee camp, under the auspices of the UNHCR so as to ensure that the rights of the residents are protected. They also called on the Iraqi Prime Minister to allow the sale of the property of the residents at Camp Ashraf to help them pay for the cost of making Camp Liberty inhabitable and on par with international humanitarian standards.

The speakers pointed to destructive role of the Iranian regime’s meddling in Iraq and stressed that the eviction of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and its commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani from Iraq were prerequisites for a durable, long lasting solution to the Iraqi crisis.

Iranian Americans and supporters protest the conditions at Camp Liberty, a former US military base in Iraq now used to house exiled Iranian dissidents, during a rally outside the White House in Washington, DC, April 14, 2015. The group wants the US and Iraq to ensure the safety and security of residents of the camp and for it to be declared a refugee camp under UN control. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Iranian Americans and supporters protest the conditions at Camp Liberty, a former US military base in Iraq now used to house exiled Iranian dissidents, during a rally outside the White House in Washington, DC, April 14, 2015. The group wants the US and Iraq to ensure the safety and security of residents of the camp and for it to be declared a refugee camp under UN control. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)