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ASHRAF MONITOR

Volume 1, Issue 49

News about the Humanitarian Crisis for Camp Ashraf Residents

Thursday, December 17, 2009

 

In this Issue:

 


"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 Committee in charge of Ashraf suppression insists on relocation of residents
NCRI Press Release

Tuesday, 15 December 2009
NCRI - At 11:30 on Tuesday, December 15, 2009, 37 police vehicles entered Camp Ashraf along with a number of Iraqi officials from the suppressive Iraqi committee called Committee for Closing Ashraf. Some 50 journalists, photographers, and videographers also entered Ashraf with the same contingent. After a year-long ban on media, the Iraqi government’s spokesman last week invited reporters to produce footage of those who refuse to stay in Ashraf and are willing to leave after a call by the said Iraqi committee.

Ashraf residents did not preclude or resist the police’s entry in any way and left all doors and buildings open for visits by the police, Iraqi officials and reporters. (Watch video clips of CNN reports on tour of Ashraf here and here.)

Police forces were stationed in the main streets and squares of Ashraf. Officials from the Iraqi committee, sent from the Prime Minister’s Office, demanded a meeting with representatives of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). PMOI representatives responded that they would only be prepared to meet if it is agreed that there would be no discussion about forcible displacement of residents. Iraqi authorities said in response that there are no intentions of relocation using force…

Committee officials and Iraqi forces, accompanied by journalists, visited various locations in Ashraf and spoke to the residents face-to-face, asking them to leave Ashraf and take residence in luxurious hotels in Baghdad. But, contrary to their expectations and multiple invitations, not even a single resident bothered to acknowledge such theatrics and ultimately the minibuses which had come to displace the residents returned empty…

At around 15:00 local time, Iraqi forces and officials left Ashraf, taking the journalists with them, even as many of the residents in Ashraf still demanded interviews with reporters.

The Iranian Resistance emphasizes that the illegal decision of the Iraqi government for relocation is a prelude to another large humanitarian catastrophe against Ashraf residents, and calls on the United Nations and the American government to guarantee the protection of Ashraf residents and ensure prevention of forcible relocation and a repeat of use of force and violence against them...  Read More

 

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UNAMI calls for continued consultations on Camp Ashraf
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)

December 14, 2009
Baghdad-14 December 2009- At different meetings with representatives of the Government of Iraq and with representatives of the diplomatic community in Baghdad, UNAMI has continued to promote further consultations concerning the future of the residents of Camp Ashraf.

In light of the Government’s announcement that initial steps will be undertaken on 15 December, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Ad Melkert, has reiterated the UN’s concern that any action should be based on the principle that residents should be protected from forcible deportation, expulsion or repatriation contrary to the non-refoulement principle.

UNAMI calls on all stakeholders to intensify consultations to look for a resolution that is consistent with Iraq’s legitimate sovereignty rights and international law; that will be based on the free expression of personal preference by individual residents; and that will seriously address options for voluntary resettlement outside Iraq.

The UN remains committed in the weeks ahead to monitor the situation in the camp on a daily basis, following the practice of regular monitoring over the past few years by UNAMI and the High Commissioner on Human Rights...  Read More

 

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U.S. Lawmakers urge Obama to halt relocation of Iran dissidents
Agence France Presse
December 15, 2009

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US lawmakers Tuesday urged President Barack Obama to stop the Iraqi government's forced relocation of Iranian dissidents from a border camp that has been closed down.

After 24 years at Camp Ashraf, the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI), who were expelled for opposing the Islamic regime of Tehran, on Tuesday began defying government orders to evacuate the camp.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki wants the more than 3,000 former fighters to move with their families to the new camp in the desert south of Baghdad as a first stage towards leaving Iraq.

Democrat Bob Filner, who presented a resolution supporting the refugees at the House of Representatives, drew attention to the PMOI's plight at a press conference Tuesday. (See the Associated Press's photos of the press conference here and here)

"We are here to call on whoever will listen, the Iraqi government the US government, to halt the forcible relocation of the residents of Camp Ashraf," he told reporters.

The PMOI have warned that the forced evacuation of Ashraf could lead to more bloodshed as in July when 11 people were killed and 500 injured as Iraqi forces tried to install a command post inside the camp.

Backed by 120 House members, Filner hopes the House will take up his resolution before Congress goes into recess for the end-of-year holidays... Read More

 

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French officials condemn PMOI relocation
United Press International
December 16, 2009

PARIS, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- French officials signed a declaration condemning the Iraqi move to relocate Iranian dissidents from their enclave in Diyala province, an opposition group said.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, a Paris-based umbrella organization representing Iranian dissident groups, said 2,172 mayors in France signed a declaration in opposition to a decision in Baghdad to expel members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran from their Camp Ashraf enclave.

Baghdad last week said the PMOI would be relocated from Camp Ashraf first to Baghdad and then to a desert outpost in the Shiite south of the country...

The French opposition statement reminds Baghdad that PMOI residents are considered "protected persons" under international law and calls on the Iraqi government to abandon its relocation campaign.

Iraqi officials said they would not forcibly expel the residents of Camp Ashraf but stressed the government would "find suitable solutions" for those who choose to stay behind... Read More
 

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Iranian dissident group defies order to Relocate from Ashraf
McClatchy Newspapers
December 15, 2009

CAMP ASHRAF, Iraq — An Iranian dissident group vowed Tuesday not to abandon its besieged camp north of Baghdad despite an Iraqi military ultimatum to pull up stakes or face an eviction that could turn bloody.

Iraqi security forces led a group of international journalists on a tour of the camp occupied by the Mujahedin-e Khalq, the first time authorities have allowed media to visit since a deadly raid on the compound last July.

Since then, the 3,000 or so remaining MEK members have been in a standoff with the Iraqi government, which has imposed a blockade on the camp and a ban on visitors in an effort to force the former militant group's relocation.

"If the Iraqi government forces us to leave the camp, then we would prefer to die here," said Hoshkand Dodgani, 49, an MEK member who's spent 23 years at the camp in Iraq. "Our main sin is our refusal to submit to the Iranian regime."…

U.S. forces disarmed the MEK following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and until recently the residents lived there in limbo under U.S. protection from the hostile, new Iranian-supported Iraqi government. Shiite Muslim leaders, many of whom lived for years in Iran, have been eager to return the dissidents to Tehran, where they could face prosecution. The Iraqi government has promised to move the group in accordance with international laws…

Rolling through Camp Ashraf in pickup trucks, Iraqi security forces tossed pamphlets outlining the government's position, and one officer used a microphone to read out the points in broken Farsi. Reporters were watched at all times and allowed only briefly to interview MEK members…

The U.S. government has been criticized for failing to do more to protect the MEK. During the Iraqi military's raid on Camp Ashraf in July, 11 MEK members died and U.S. forces at the scene did not step in, according to news accounts of the incident.

American officials said the formal end of the U.S. occupying authority in 2004 and the U.S.-Iraqi security agreement that took effect earlier this year absolves the U.S. from responsibility for the group.

"Our position is that we have no obligation, and no right under the security agreement, to provide protection to the residents of Ashraf," U.S. embassy spokesman Philip Frayne said in a statement Tuesday.

"We still expect the Iraqi government to treat them humanely, in accordance with its laws and international obligations, and not to forcibly deport them to any country where they have a fear of torture or persecution."... Read More

 

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

More than 3,400 members of Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin (PMOI/MEK) and their families, among them nearly 1,000 Muslim women, reside in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.  The PMOI was the source of ground breaking revelation in the United States in 2002 about Iran’s two until-then secret nuclear sites at Natanz and Arak.

 

On July 28-29, 2009, Iraqi forces ordered directly by Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki acting at the behest of Iran rulers, carried out a violent, unprovoked raid on Camp Ashraf, killing 11 residents, wounding 500, and abducting 36.

 

The brutal raid on Ashraf was a blatant violation of the solemn commitment Iraq had given to the United States that it would provide "humane treatment of the Camp Ashraf residents in accordance with Iraq’s Constitution, laws, and international obligations."

The assault took place while U.S. service members on the scene were observing the situation closely. Regrettably they took no action to prevent the premeditated violence despite direct appeals by Ashraf residents at the outset and during the attack.

 

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.“

 

United States had legal and moral obligations and responsibilities under international humanitarian law to protect these Iranian exiles.
 

 

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

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