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ASHRAF MONITOR

Volume 1, Issue 28

News about the Looming Humanitarian Crisis for Camp Ashraf Residents

Thursday, April 16, 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 authorities interviewed 2,600 Camp Ashraf residents, 99.8% decide to stay
NCRI Press Release

April  16, 2009
Following private interviews with Iraqi authorities with 2,600 Ashraf residents, 99.8 percent declared Ashraf is their only choice
Only six individuals decided to leave Ashraf
Mullahs react to PMOI members’ persistence by staging ridiculous show on state TV using four defectors

NCRI - On Wednesday afternoon, April 15, the mullahs’ official news agency IRNA reported, “Four members of the Monafeqin grouplet (a derogatory term used by the Iranian regime to refer to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran – PMOI/MEK) regretted joining the grouplet and announced their defection on Wednesday.” The news agency claimed, “The four individuals who have come out of Camp Ashraf, the main headquarters of the Monafeqin in Iraq, with the help of Iraqi government, spoke today at the building of the National Security Advisor of Iraq about their memories and acknowledged before domestic and foreign media in Iraq about organized mistreatments by the Monafeqin grouplet. They made shocking revelations about the situation inside the Camp.”

This marked a bitter failure of the clerical regime and forces affiliated to it in Iraq following their intense efforts in the past months. They wishfully thought that a wave of defections and repentance would pursue following pressures and suppressive measures against Ashraf residents especially after the transfer of protection of Ashraf over to Iraqi forces. This has left the religious fascism ruling Iran in great shame and embarrassment.

The Iraqi National Security Advisor, who allowed the meeting with the press take place in his office yesterday, has been claiming since February that absolute majority of Ashraf residents, if they were given freedom of choice, would leave the PMOI and return to Iran.

In line with this claim, the Human Rights Ministry of Iraq since March has been holding private interviews with every single one of the people in Ashraf to offer them two choices; go to Iran or a third country.

According to our information, until the end of the working hour on Wednesday, the Iraqi authorities had interviewed 2,600 Ashraf residents. They were told that if they decide to leave Ashraf, they would be provided with necessary facilities to either return to Iran or go to a third country. However, the PMOI members residing in Ashraf declared that they will go nowhere and their only choice is to remain in Ashraf. There were only six - only 0.2 percent - who decided to leave Ashraf and they were taken by Iraqi forces to Baghdad...  Read More

 

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Iranian group in Iraq part of high-stakes politics
Associated Press

April 15, 2009

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Iraqi government is stepping up efforts to pressure Iranian exiles into leaving the country, pushing an obscure group to the forefront of Baghdad's relations with Washington and the Obama administration's overtures to Iran.

At stake is whether Iraq can resolve the fate of 3,500 members of the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran without damaging its ties to both the U.S. and Iran.

In recent weeks, leaders of the People's Mujahedeen, known by its Farsi initials MEK, claim the Iraqis blockaded their Camp Ashraf north of Baghdad, allowing in only limited food and water shipments.

And earlier this month, they say, the Iraqi guards prevented Iraqi surgeons from entering the camp to treat critically ill patients — although the Iraqis ultimately relented…

Iran has pressed for years to close the camp, but the issue came to a head after Iraqi forces took over security for Camp Ashraf on Jan. 1, under the Iraq-U.S. security pact. The government gave the Americans assurances they would not force the exiles back to Iran, where some face prosecution.

U.S. officials in Baghdad have declined to comment publicly on the MEK issue. But the U.S. has a stake in the issue because the U.S. military signed an agreement with the militia after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, promising members would be treated as "protected persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Al-Rubaie says that with Iraqis in control, the MEK is no longer protected by national laws or international conventions and must leave…

MEK is now turning to supporters in Europe, where the European Parliament in January removed the organization from its terror list after a British court backed the group's claim to have renounced violence. If all else fails, the MEK says it may take the Camp Ashraf case to an international tribunal at The Hague…

For now, Iraq's stranglehold of Camp Ashraf has created a shortage of some commodities, including toothpaste, chlorine for water purification and generator fuel, said camp physician Hamid Gazaeri.

The camp's modest clinic is serviced by a few general practitioners, all Iranians living in Ashraf, and depends on regular visits by Iraqi specialists.

Cancer sufferer Fatemeh Alizadeh, one of five patients who waited for a week for surgery until Iraqi doctors were allowed back last Friday, can't imagine the camp closing.

"It would be a catastrophe," she said in a frail voice on the phone, speaking from her hospital bed. "I am not going anywhere.... Read More

 

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Associations and Communities across Iraq and Iran urge lifting of restrictions against Ashraf City

NCRI Website

April  14, 2009
NCRI - A number of associations and organizations from a number of Iraqi cities have sent separate letters and statements to American and international authorities, detesting inhumane pressures imposed on Ashraf City residents and urging immediate intervention to halt the restrictions, the Iraqi daily Azzaman reported on Sunday, April 12, 2009...

The Iraqi daily Azzaman quoted a PMOI citing a number of the organizations expressing support for Ashraf residents. Some of them include: The Association of Nurses in Tehran, Shiraz Society of Medical Doctors, Teachers in Western Tehran, the Bazaari Society of Tehran, Association of Workers in Southern Tehran, the Youth Association of Southern Tehran, the Youth Association of Eastern Tehran, Young Sympathizers of the PMOI in Zanjan Province, and a number of associations of PMOI sympathizers in the cities of Sari, Ghaemshahr, Babol (northern Iran).

The Iraqi daily also said: “The Committee of Friendship between Iraqi Kurds and the Iranian People has expressed its deepest worries about the pressures imposed on Iranian residents in Camp Ashraf, north of Baaghouba in Iraq.”

The Azzaman report mentioned a number of Iraqi tribal leaders and non-government organizations expressing solidarity with Ashraf residents and urging an immediate intervention by international and Iraqi bodies.

Sheikh Adnan Mohammad Bandar, leader of the al-Someidi tribe in Iraq said: On behalf of the entire al-Someidi tribe in Iraq, I announce our full support and solidarity with the residents of Ashraf City.

Sheikh Feysal Houm, leader of the Neda tribe in Iraq, sent a letter to the commander of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, saying: We request that the protection of Ashraf City be transferred back to American forces.

Azzaman added: “The Union of Free Women Communities, the Association of Democratic Women, the Association of Free Women in Diyala, and the Association of Meghdadieh Women for Peace, have all issued statements condemning the pressures imposed against Ashraf. They, too, have demanded immediate intervention by international authorities to prevent the occurrence of a human catastrophe in Ashraf, and have also underscored the need to guarantee the safety and security of Ashraf residents in accordance with international law.”... Read More

 

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Iraqi Kurdish Committee condemns restrictions on Camp Ashraf residents
NCRI Website

April  13, 2009
NCRI- The Committee of Friendship between Iraqi Kurds and the Iranian People expresses its deepest regrets about pressures on members of Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in Camp Ashraf north of Baghdad in Iraq.

We “ask the Iraqi government to end these pressures which have tainted the reputation of Iraq and the Iraqi government,” the committee said in a statement published on April 4, 2009.

It said: "The Committee of Friendship between Iraqi Kurds and the Iranian People expresses its deepest regrets about pressures on Iranian residents in Ashraf north of Baghouba in Iraq, which are aimed to wear them out. These measures are contrary to all international human rights principles and treaties regarding the rights of refugees, and violate Iraq’s international obligations. These acts are also tantamount to trampling upon international law and humanitarian laws established after the Second World War."... Read More

 

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Iranians in Camp Ashraf in Iraq are in urgent need of international protection
Website of Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe
April  14, 2009

Strasbourg – “The situation of Iranians in Camp Ashraf in Iraq has become more than alarming. These persons must, as a matter of urgency, receive full guarantees of international protection,” said Corien Jonker (Netherlands, EPP/CD), Chair of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Camp Ashraf is the home of some 3,500 Iranians who have fled to Iraq from Iran, many of whom have been living there for over two decades. At the beginning of the year, the administration of Camp Ashraf was transferred from the United States to the Iraqi government, which promised it would provide the same guarantees and procedures as those formerly agreed between the US army and Ashraf residents.

“The situation in Camp Ashraf is going from bad to worse,” said Mrs Jonker. “The Iraqi government has made it clear that it wants to close the camp and expects the people living there to return to Iran or leave to a third country. Also, according to remarks by Iraqi officials, consideration is being given to moving these people to the middle of the desert in the south of Iraq. Many of the residents in Camp Ashraf are Iranian opposition members from the People’s Mojahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), [*] who risk persecution in Iran if they are forced to return. The screws are being applied to these people to make them leave.”... Read More

 

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A British hero of the fight for freedom in Iran
Sunday Telegraph
April 11, 2009

Lord Slynn of Hadley tried to alert the world to a terrible betrayal of Iran's main hope of a democratic alternative to the murderous Tehran regime, says Christopher Booker.
It is not often this column commends a passionate supporter of the EU but Lord Slynn of Hadley, a former judge on the European Court of Justice who died last week, deserves tribute for his part in an admirable fight for justice. He played a leading role in the long battle to get the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI), the main hope of a democratic alternative to the murderous tyranny in Tehran, taken off the list of terrorist organisations outlawed by the UK Government and the EU.

The purpose of banning the PMOI was solely to appease the Teheran regime, which regards the National Council of Resistance of Iran, of which the PMOI is the main component, as its chief enemy. Repeatedly the British Government and the EU tried to flout rulings by their respective courts that there was no evidence that the PMOI were terrorists and that the ban was unlawful. Finally, thanks not least to Lord Slynn, both governments were forced to lift the ban.

Now, however, desperate for vengeance, the Tehran regime has turned its attention to the PMOI’s last “safe haven” in the Middle East, Camp Ashfraf in the Iraqi desert 60 miles north of Baghdad. Where there was once just arid sand now stands a thriving modern town, with four Olympic-size swimming pools and houses in tree-lined streets, home to 3,600 peace-loving Iranians.

After the occupation, the people of Ashraf, having given up their weapons, lived under a guarantee of US protection. But in January this year, the Americans handed over that “protection” to the Iraqi government which, under what appears to be a murky deal with Tehran, has been bringing every kind of pressure, short of force, to close Ashraf down. The inhabitants have been denied supplies, medical attention or contact with the outside world, and are terrified that they will be handed over to Tehran, many to be tortured or executed as tens of thousands of PMOI supporters have been in the past.

Were Lord Slynn, who twice visited Ashraf, still alive, he would again be playing a leading role in trying to alert the world to the terrible betrayal which now seems in the making... 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