Friday, January 06, 2012

Camp Ashraf: USCCAR Warns of Iraq's Intention to Transfer Camp Ashraf "Asylum Seekers" to a Would-be-Prison at Camp Liberty

The U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR) condemns ploys by the Iranian regime to undermine the internationally-endorsed peaceful, albeit fragile, resolution to the humanitarian crisis at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. USCCAR is alarmed by disturbing reports from Iraq indicating that the Iraqi government is already reneging on its agreement with the United Nations to uphold the human rights of Camp's residents and is building a prison in Camp Liberty to move our loved ones there.

The Committee calls on the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to immediately intervene and remind the Iraqi government of its obligations toward Camp Ashraf residents, consistent with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it signed with the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Iraq, Ambassador Martin Kobler, on December 25 and based on international law. We also ask Secretary Clinton to facilitate a visit to Camp Liberty by a delegation of U.S. citizens who have close relatives in Camp Ashraf to meet their loved ones immediately after they arrive from Ashraf.

There is hardly any doubt that if left to its own devices, the Iraqi government will merely implement directives issued by office of mullahs' Supreme leader Ali Khamenei and Iranian regime's Embassy in Baghdad against the Iranian dissidents at Camp Ashraf.

We must reiterate that the official and the internationally recognized status of the residents of Ashraf is "formal asylum seekers" according to the September 2011 declaration by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The declaration certifies that under international law the "asylum seekers" of Camp Ashraf must be able to benefit from basic protection of their security and well-being. Furthermore, Camp Ashraf residents were recognized as "protected persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention in 2004 by the coalition forces. This status entitles the residents to specific rights and safeguards.

Absent minimum guarantees for the basic rights and safety of Camp Ashraf "asylum seekers" as stipulated in the MOU, we have asked our Members of Congress to urge Secretary Clinton to oppose the relocation of our loved ones to Camp Liberty until these guarantees are provided. However, subsequent to a December 28 appeal by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the camp's residents announced the readiness of 400 residents to transfer to Camp Liberty with their vehicles and portable belongings necessary for a minimum standard of living for "asylum seekers." This good faith measure on the part of the residents serves as a test of Iraqi government's sincerity for a peaceful resolution of the humanitarian crisis in Camp Ashraf before the remaining residents relocate to Camp Liberty.

Any plan to transfer the "asylum seekers" and "protected persons" of Camp Ashraf to an Iraq-run detention facility, cordoned off with concrete walls and inaccessible by the residents' lawyers and their families, is a ploy to humiliate and suppress the residents and fulfill Tehran's wishes. Such a plan would, therefore, be a "forced relocation" and contrary to specific stipulations by the UN Secretary General and his Special Representative in Iraq who have insisted that this will be a "voluntary relocation."

We call on Secretary Clinton to press Baghdad to abide by the commitments she stipulated in her December 25 statement on "Situation at Ashraf" in which she stressed the United States "expects it [the Iraqi government] to fulfill all its responsibilities, especially the elements of the MOU that provide for the safety and security of Ashraf's residents."

SOURCE U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR)