Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Camp Ashraf: Law and human rights experts call on Obama to save Camp Ashraf residents

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 -- In a press conference today, international law and human rights experts urged President Obama to intervene immediately to save the lives of 36 Ashraf residents taken hostage by the Iraqi forces and end the humanitarian crisis in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.

The panelists expressed outrage that despite the third ruling by an Iraqi Court to have the 36 individuals released, the Iraqi government has refused to abide by the verdict of its own judiciary.

Steven Schneebaum, U.S. Counsel for the families of Camp Ashraf, said in his remarks, "Principles of humanitarian and human rights law make it clear that no state is allowed to hold individuals without charge when the person has not committed a crime. Under international law it is obligatory that they be released. The Iraqi Government is clearly violating international law and President Obama must make it clear to the Iraqis that they should obey the same set of legal principles that every other civilized country across globe is required to obey."

Bruce McColm, President of Institute for Democratic Strategies and former Executive Director of Freedom House, added, "The fact that the Iraqi government has refused to implement the judgment of its own judiciary demonstrates that it is doing Tehran's bidding. Let there be no doubt that the responsibility for the safety and well being of these hostages and those on hunger strike around the world rests squarely with the Iraqi Prime Minister."

Hamid Goudarzi, a senior engineering researcher from San Antonio, Texas, on a hunger strike for 62 days outside the White House, emphasized, "The State Department claims Iraq was exercising its sovereignty when it attacked Camp Ashraf. What kind of sovereignty is this? The court has ruled three times to release the 36 hostages, but the Prime Minister has intervened to prevent that. I have been sitting in front of the White House for past 62 days and the administration has done nothing. We will stand here as long as it takes."

The 36 hostages were abducted during the July 28-29 deadly assault on Camp Ashraf by 2,200 Iraqi security forces, in which 11 residents were killed and nearly 500 were wounded. Ashraf is home to 3,400 members of Iran's main opposition the People's Mojahedin Organization (PMOI/MEK) and their families.

SOURCE U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents

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