Arab-Islamic Committee in Defense of Ashraf
Prevention of the Expansion of Fundamentalism
The Committee was formed in September 2009 with the aim of exposing Islamic fundamentalism and its misuse of religion to pursue its political objectives.
The Committee in particular, focuses its activities on supporting those Iranians residing in Camp Ashraf in Iraq as it consider them to be a formidable barrier against spread of fundamentalism by the Iranian regime.
The Committee believes spread of Islamic fundamentalism is the most serious problem facing the Arab and Islamic world. It further believes that this is an ominous phenomenon which also threatens global peace and security.
The Committee also considers the Islamic fundamentalism as a diversion from the true path of Islam which like all other monotheistic faiths is the religion of peace.
The committee believes in interfaith dialogue and among its objectives pursues expansion of such dialogue. In this respect it will organize seminars and other activities including in cooperation with other institutions and association which share such objectives.
The committee advocates peace in the region, tolerance and separation of church and state.
The president of the Committee is the Honrable Syd Ahmed Ghozali, former Prime Minister of Algeria. The committee is comprised of dignitaries in the Arab and Islamic world.
What is Camp Ashraf
• Camp Ashraf is situated near the Iraqi town of al-Khalis, approximately 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. Ashraf was built in 1986, when members of the Iranian opposition movement, PMOI/MEK went to Iraq. Currently 3,400 are residing in Camp Ashraf, including 1,000 women. Nearly 1,000 Ashraf residents survived long years of imprisonment and torture under the current Iranian regime.
• The fate of the residents of Ashraf is important for the Iranian people in virtue of the fact that all of them have relatives in Iran and abroad. But the issue goes far beyond humanitarian concerns. The presence of an organised opposition across the border is a source of inspiration and hope for the Iranian people who are yearning for regime change. The residents of Ashraf are also seen as symbols of perseverance in The face of adversity.
• Ashraf residents had no involvement in the 1991 and 2003 wars in Iraq, a fact affirmed by both the United Nations and the US forces. Before the 2003 Iraq War, despite having informed the U.S. and British governments, as part of an effort to accommodate Iran, they were bombed which left dozens killed.
• In April 2003, they signed an agreement of understanding with U.S. forces and in May 2003 following lengthy discussions with then Major General Raymond Odierno, they voluntarily handed over all their weapons to American forces, and the US in turn accepted the responsibility to protect Ashraf in an agreement signed with each and every resident of the camp.
• In 2004, the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) and the US government, following a full investigation, including interviewing and screening all Ashraf residents by several U.S. agencies, recognized the residents as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention. They were under protection of U.S. forces until the beginning of 2009, and developed an amicable relationship with their protectors.
• In early 2009, despite strong opposition by the residents and their lawyers, who warned of a humanitarian catastrophe, US forces transferred the protection of Ashraf residents to Iraqi forces. This was while the most senior Iraqi officials had already announced their intention to expel Ashraf residents and to make life intolerable for them in the Camp. At the time, the U.S. insisted that Iraq had given written assurances to respect the rights of the residents.
• On February 28, 2009, the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei asked the Iraqi President and Prime Minister to implement the bilateral agreement to expel the residents and close down the Camp.
• Since then, Iraq had stepped up pressure on Camp Ashraf. It imposed a virtual blockade on the Camp. The siege began in March 2009, when the entry of families, lawyers, parliamentarians, rights activists and even Iraqi workers to the camp was prohibited. Iraqi authorities also imposed severe restrictions on delivery of fuel, medicine, medical specialists and, even to some extent, foodstuffs to the camp.
• Simultaneous with the growing uprising in Iran, more than 2,000 Iraqi forces equipped with automatic weapons, clubs, axes, and knives attacked the defenseless and unarmed residents of Ashraf on July 28 and 29, 2009. At least 11 residents were killed and several hundred were wounded. Thirty-six were also were arrested and unlawfully kept in custody. According to Amnesty International they were tortured before being released under international pressure.
• In October 2009, United Nations Assistant Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) established a monitoring team in Ashraf. Although this is an effective pre-emptive measure, the team’s authority and resources are very limited and the scope of its activities is insignificant.
• Since February 8, 2010, the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) has stationed several dozen agents posing as families of Ashraf residents and backed by Iraqi forces, outside Ashraf’s main gate. They are tasked with laying the ground for a confrontation and an excuse for another brutal attack by Iraqi forces.
• There is serious concern that absent an international action another violent attack against Ashraf would occur. The Iranian regime is pressing for elimination of residents of Ashraf. In particular since US forces left their base (FOB Grizzly) situated inside Ashraf perimeter, the Iranian regime and its proxies in Iraq have intensified their pressure and provocation to lay the ground for another deadly attack against the resident.
• In this respect to avert another humanitarian catastrophe it is necessary for the US forces to return to FOB Grizzly and for the UN to take responsibility for the protection of Camp Ashraf and lifting the crippling restrictions.