16 Spanish rights organizations call on US to protect Camp Ashraf

Sixteen nationwide human rights organization in Spain, grouped together as the Federation of Active Associations Defending Human Rights, have written a letter to the US Secretary of State, expressing worry about the Iraqi government’s persistent rights violations in Camp Ashraf.

Camp Ashraf, situated northeast of Baghdad, is home to about 3,400 members of the main Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

The rights organizations said US forces are duty-bound to establish a presence in Camp Ashraf in accordance with Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The standards of treatment towards the residents of Ashraf should be reverted back to what it was prior to the US handing over the protection of the camp to Iraqi forces in early 2009. The letter also underscored the need for a permanent presence by UNAMI in Ashraf.

“More than 400,000 shocking documents revealed by WikiLeaks with regards to the abuses of Iraqi security forces have focused international public opinion on human rights violations and crimes committed in Iraq.”

The world has been stunned by the magnitude of torture, assassinations and murder of opponents by death squads, and especially the Iranian regime’s role in these crimes, the letter said.

“Neither the commission of these crimes nor ignoring them are acceptable or tolerable by international public opinion or human rights organizations.”

The letter added that in the context of these crimes, since early 2009, when the control of Camp Ashraf was transferred to the Iraqi government by US forces, “Iraqi forces began their inhumane treatment of the residents, attacking the camp on July 28 and 29, 2009, which led to the killing of 11 residents, the wounding and injuring of more than 1,000 and hostage taking of 36 for 72 days.”

The Spanish human rights federation said in its letter to the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the WikiLeaks revelations, showcasing crimes committed by the Nouri al-Maliki government and attacks against Camp Ashraf, including the recent aggressions in July 2010, have proven that the current Iraqi government’s forces lack the competence to protect the residents of Ashraf.

The letter added, “We cannot close our eyes to the occurrences in Ashraf, and demand the following urgent measures to be taken:

• US forces must establish a presence in Ashraf in accordance with Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention; The standards of treatment must revert back to what they were prior to 2009 when US forces were in charge of protecting the camp; And, a UNAMI team must monitor the situation in Ashraf by establishing a permanent presence in the camp.
• Ashraf residents continue to be protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention and must enjoy the fundamental rights and protections of this convention.
• The 22-month-long unjust siege of Camp Ashraf must be ended.

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