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ASHRAF MONITOR

Volume 1, Issue 24

News about the Looming Humanitarian Crisis for Camp Ashraf Residents

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

 

 


"Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs.”

Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention

 

“In no circumstances shall a protected person be transferred to a country where he or she may have reason to fear persecution for his or her political opinions or religious beliefs.”

Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention

 

 

Iraqi army besieges Iranian exile camp -residents
Reuters

March 16, 2009
BAGHDAD, March 16 (Reuters) - Iraqi forces have besieged a camp housing Iranian exiles in Iraq, residents and a security official said, after the national security adviser reiterated a vow to shut the place down.

A source at Iraq's Interior Ministry said Iraqi soldiers surrounded Camp Ashraf on Thursday after residents resisted an attempt to clear them out of one building inside it. The soldiers were blocking fuel and medicines getting in, he said.

National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie pledged in January to close the camp, home to 3,500 people, by late March.

"Iraqi forces have made a siege around the camp. No one is allowed to enter or leave," the source said late on Sunday. "We have instructions from Mowaffaq al-Rubaie to seal it off."

Rubaie was not available for comment but an official in his office, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak, denied that security forces had surrounded the camp.

On a visit to Iran on Jan. 23, Rubaie said Camp Ashraf would be "part of history within two months". In a statement on Friday, his office reiterated his intention to shut it.

"The government will not go back on its decision to close down the camp ... residents have the choice between returning to Iran or going to a third country," the statement said.

Leaders of the Iranian opposition group, which has been based at Ashraf north of Baghdad for around two decades, said Iraqi security forces hit residents with electric batons.

"They threatened them to leave, blocked basic necessities from coming in and sending trucks back: these are violations of the Geneva Convention," Shahriar Kia, spokesman for the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI) in the camp, said by telephone...  Read More

 

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Iraqi forces beat and abuse Ashraf residents using electric batons and handcuff residents

NCRI Press Release

March 15, 2009
Cordoning of a building in Camp Ashraf by Iraqi forces tightened

NCRI - Two weeks after remarks by Ali Khamenei, the clerical regime’s Supreme Leader, emphasizing the expulsion of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) from Iraq and implementation of a bilateral agreement between the Iranian regime and the government of Iraq, and pursuant to the attack on a building in Camp Ashraf and its cordoning which started on Friday, an Iraqi officer at 09:00 this morning started threatening the PMOI members at the entry gate of Camp Ashraf, beating and abusing two of them by the names of Abdulali Haj Mohammadi and Nouredin Navid. The officer used electric baton and handcuffed them but the American forces intervened and stopped him.

The Iraqi forces also refused to allow 150 Iraqi workers to enter Ashraf this morning. At 11:00 AM, the number of Iraqi forces surrounding the building was increased and the cordoning of the building which started two days ago was tightened. For the fourth day running, the Iraqi forces prevented trucks carrying logistics, commodities and also fuel from entering Ashraf. This is seriously threatening the water supply plant and the medical systems in Ashraf.

The measures adopted over the past four days such as cutting off supplies, banning visits and entry of workers to Ashraf, surrounding a building, handcuffing Ashraf residents and beating them with electric batons and various threats against the residents are in blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions, International Humanitarian Law, and international law, and are obvious examples of war crimes against ‘protected persons’.

The Iranian Resistance calls for urgent intervention by the U.S. government and competent international bodies to neutralize plots by the clerical regime and prevent a human catastrophe in Camp Ashraf. Those who order or perpetrate such criminal acts, in particular the Iraqi government’s National Security Advisor who is clearly implementing the dictates of Khamenei, must be prosecuted by international authorities.

Recalling the statement by the U.S. embassy of December 28, 2008, the Iranian Resistance reiterates the need to guarantee the implementation of international conventions and Ashraf residents’ protection by the U.S. forces in compliance with the U.S. government’s international obligations and its agreement with Ashraf residents. In order to neutralize the orders of the regime’s Supreme Leader, the Resistance also calls for a return to the situation pre-January 2009, i.e., the U.S. forces be tasked with the protection of Ashraf... Read More

 

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Maryam Rajavi writes to U.S. President on protection of Ashraf residents in Iraq
NCRI Press Release

March 15, 2009
NCRI - Following the new inhuman restrictions imposed on the residents of Camp Ashraf (in Iraq's Diyala Province), who are members of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of Iranian Resistance in letter addressed to the U.S. President described the move as a conspiracy by the religious dictatorship. She said that remarks by the Iranian regime's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei during his February 28 meeting with the President of Iraq triggered the restrictions.

Khamenei reminded the Iraqi President in a demanding voice that "…the bilateral agreement regarding the expulsion of the PMOI from Iraq must be implemented… and we are awaiting its implementation."

Subsequently, in the first week of March, former President and the head of the Assembly of Experts, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, on a visit to Iraq, demanded that the PMOI be expelled from Iraq and Camp Ashraf be closed down.
Mrs. Rajavi emphasized that measures adopted by the Iraqi forces would amount to a human catastrophe. She said that the responsibility of protecting Ashraf residents lies with the U.S. forces.

Mrs. Rajavi reiterated that the protection for the residents of Ashraf arises from the international obligations of the United States and is based on the agreement between the residents of Ashraf and the U.S. and said that in view of the deteriorating treatment of Ashraf residents by Iraqi forces, requested that the protection of Ashraf be reinstated to that which was in place before January 2009, i.e., the U.S. forces be tasked with the protection of Ashraf.

In an unprecedented move, on March 13, Iraqi forces surrounded one of Ashraf's buildings and used force and bullying tactics in an attempt to evacuate hundreds of residents of the building, mostly women. The soldiers said Iraqi National Security Advisor Mouwaffaq Al-Rubaie had ordered that Iraqi forces occupy the building, a major section of which is a women's dormitory. The facility, built in its entirety with the financial and human resources of the residents of Ashraf, remains surrounded.

In addition, since March 12, Iraqi forces have prevented any commodity or even fuel from entering Ashraf and turned back trucks carrying logistics. Mr. Al-Rubaie had ordered that nothing but food items be allowed to enter Ashraf. Moreover, 150 Iraqi workers, six persons who procured Ashraf logistical needs and seven trucks carrying commodities have been barred from entering Ashraf. The workers have been working in Ashraf for many years.

The ban on families visiting their relatives in Ashraf remains in force and they are facing serious restrictions in meeting their loved ones even outside the Camp. Iraqi forces only allow the residents to meet their immediate relatives for a brief period of time. The families' identity cards, telephones and other personal belongings are seized until their departure... Read More

 

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Sheikh Khalaf al-Alyan: using force against PMOI not acceptable

NCRI Website

March 16, 2009
NCRI - In an interview with Iraqi News Agency (INA), Sheikh Khalaf al-Alyan, the President of Iraqi Council for National Dialogue and a member of Iraqi Parliament condemned the attack and harassment of the Ashraf residents, members of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). He said that applying force by Iraqi troops stationed at Camp Ashraf by the order of Iraqi National Security Advisor, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie is not acceptable.


He described the move as an attempt to implement the orders of mullahs' Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei in his meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to expel PMOI from the city of Ashraf. The Iraqi forces have tried to take over the dormitories belonging to the women in Ashraf.

Sheikh Khalaf said that the PMOI members were guests of the Iraqi people. They have been in this country for a long time and have not done anything against Iraqi people, thus, they enjoy great respect and support of large segments of the Iraqi people. Such impositions on the PMOI members are designed in Iran. ... Read More

 

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U.S. Says It Shot Down an Iranian Drone Over Iraq
The New York Times

March 17, 2009
BAGHDAD — The American military confirmed on Monday that it shot down an Iranian drone over Iraqi territory last month, in what is believed to be the first time that has happened.

Col. James Hutton, a spokesman for the United States military commander in Iraq, said allied aircraft shot down an “Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle” on Feb. 25, about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Although that location would put the drone relatively close to the Iran-Iraq border, Colonel Hutton denied speculation that it had simply strayed across the border accidentally.

“This is not true,” he said. “It was in Iraqi airspace and tracked one hour and 10 minutes before it was engaged.” Colonel Hutton added that allied jet fighters had shot it down without causing any civilian casualties.

The American military has long accused Iran of meddling in Iraqi affairs, arming militants and contributing to sectarian strife. In recent months, however, the Iranians have refrained from overtly supplying weapons to Iraqi factions, partly as a show of cooperation with a largely friendly Iraqi government...

Another Iraqi Defense Ministry official, speaking anonymously because only General Askari was authorized to speak to the press, said, “During the Iran-Iraq war, no Iranian aircraft could ever go this far into Iraqi airspace.”...

The drone may well have been intended more to monitor Iranian dissidents in Iraq than to eavesdrop on American or Iraqi military operations. The location where it was shot down is not far from Camp Ashraf, where 3,500 followers of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, an Iranian dissident organization, have taken refuge. Camp Ashraf is 57 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Iraqi troops have surrounded the camp in the past week and clashed with refugees there. Iran has long insisted that Iraq close the camp and expel the dissidents, but United States officials have intervened and prevented that. Since January, when the Iraqi military took over security of the area from the United States, several Iraqi officials have vowed it would soon be closed.

The United States military identified the drone as an Ababil 3, an aircraft developed by Iran with a 10.5-foot wingspan, launched from a truck catapult and recovered by parachute. The name means “swallow.”  It is equipped with video camera and transmission equipment, and flown by ground-based pilots... Read More

 

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About Humanitarian Crisis for Iranian Dissidents and their Families In Camp Ashraf

Nearly 3,500 members of Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin (PMOI/MEK), residing in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, are faced with a humanitarian crisis. 

 

Tehran has put the Iraqi government under tremendous pressure to take over the protection of Camp Ashraf from the US-led Multinational Force-Iraq.  Under current circumstance in Iraq, such action would be in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention and International Humanitarian Law. Since 2004, Ashraf residents have been formally recognized as “Protected Persons“ under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

 

Ashraf Residents are expatriates holding dual nationality or refugee status of various Western countries. Their families and relatives are greatly worried for their loved ones in Ashraf.

 

 

International Humanitarian Law Obligate U.S. to Provide Continued Protection for Camp Ashraf Residents in Iraq
On July 2, 2004, the  United States formally recognized members of the PMOI in Camp Ashraf as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention. 

 

Both the U.S. and Iraq are parties to all four 1949 Geneva Conventions.

Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifies that:

“Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs […]”.

Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifies that:

“In no circumstances shall a protected person be transferred to a country where he or she may have reason to fear persecution for his or her political opinions or religious beliefs.“

 

Under the present circumstances in Iraq, the U.S. is the only party qualified and capable of ensuring Camp Ashraf residents’ safety and security under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The U.S. forces must continue to protect Ashraf residents as long as US forces are in Iraq.
 

 

About the U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents:

The U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR) was established in December of 2003 by families and relatives of residents of Camp Ashraf. The purpose of the Committee is to ensure the safety and security of those Iranians and others living in Camp Ashraf. The Committee will defend the proposition that the protections of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as of other treaties and customary international law, must be applied to the Iranians in Iraq. For more information please visit: www.usccar.org

 

About Ashraf Monitor

Ashraf Monitor newsletter is a compilation of  news and commentaries about the developing humanitarian crisis for nearly 3,500 members of Iran's main opposition, the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in Camp Ashraf, Iraq.  Ashraf Monitor is compiled and distributed by the US Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR).

 


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U.S. COMMITTEE FOR CAMP ASHRAF RESIDENTS

2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, # 195, Washington, DC 20006-1811

Web: www.USCCAR.org
E-Mail: info@USCCAR.org
Phone: 202-640-1947