USCCAR Welcomes U.S. Senate Leaders’ Emphasis on the Need for U.S. and Iraqi Commitment to Protect Camp Ashraf Residents


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, February 7, 2011

CONTACT: Majid Roshan
PHONE: (202) 640-1947
E-MAIL: info@usccar.org


WASHINGTON  -- The U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR) welcomes the remarks by Senate Armed Services Committee Chair and Ranking Member on the need for the U.S. and Iraqi Commitment to protect Camp Ashraf residents in Iraq, home to 3,400 members of Iran’s principal opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). In July 2004, the residents were formally granted "Protected Persons" status under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

During a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the U.S. policy toward Iraq on February 3, 2011, Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), told the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq, that they were concerned about the situation of the residents of Ashraf.

Senator McCain said, “There is a place in Iraq that is inhabited by Iranian refugees called Camp Ashraf and it is been under the protection of American troops. I am concerned about the welfare and well-being and security of these people. I hope that we can address this issue in a way that would reassure them of America and Iraqi government’s commitment to their security.” Senator McCain urged Ambassador Jeffrey to “make some representations to the Iraqi government concerning the situation in Camp Ashraf.”

Referring to the “unresolved issue which is the future of the group that is at Camp Ashraf, which is an Iranian dissident group,” Senator Levin asked Ambassador Jeffrey “I want to know whether or not you believe that the Government of Iraq has the obligation to provide adequate protection for these people and whether or not they are doing it and whether you are confident that if they are providing adequate protection and that they will continue to do so after December.”

Ambassador Jeffrey insisted that “they [Government of Iraq] do have obligations both under international law and a specific written agreement with us from 2008 to both provide adequate humanitarian protection and care of these people.”

USCCAR urges the Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to ensure protection for our loved ones in Camp Ashraf consistent with the sentiments in the US Senate and a bi-partisan majority in the House of Representatives (H.Res.704, 111th Congress), which underscores the U.S. obligation to ensure the protection of the residents of Ashraf.

 

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About Humanitarian Crisis for Residents of 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 Obligates 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

 

 

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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