Press Release 18 February 2012
Upon the request of the Iranian opposition leader, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, 400 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran at Camp Ashraf have moved to Camp Liberty today. According to many independent observers, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, without freedom of movement, free access to medical services, ability to meet lawyers and without the Iraqi armed forces leaving Camp Liberty, Camp Liberty will be a prison for these 400 refugees. We commend Ashraf leadership for taking this risk and showing maximum flexibility to reach a peaceful solution to this crisis.
We are quite disturbed to hear that during the transfer, Iraqi authorities were creating problems, obstacles and panic for the residents such as preventing the residents to load some personal belongings like blankets etc. We were informed about the humiliating and inhuman treatment of the residents. They were meticulously searched by dogs and by the Iraqi forces, a process that took nearly 12 hours before they would be allowed to get into the buses.
We still believe, as my colleague Struan Stevenson, President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq has emphasized: “Clearly this transfer was unnecessary when the residents had already accepted the European Parliament’s plan for relocation to third countries. They had each individually applied for asylum to the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees in August 2011 and had the Iraqi government permitted the Refugee status interview procedure to begin at that time, a significant number of them would have been relocated out of Iraq by now.”
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq-UNAMI has the main responsibility for the well being of the residents and must guarantee the free access of journalists, parliamentarians and lawyers. As a first step, the Iraqi police force must be moved out of the Camp; no one will be arrested under any pretext by Iraq otherwise the whole process will collapse; the residents should be permitted to take along their vehicles and their
movable property with no restrictions to Camp Liberty. The head of UNAMI, Ambassador Martin Kobler, should not keep imposing the inhuman conditions of Iraq on these defenceless refugees. We urge the UN Secretary General to consider these just criticisms and shortcomings of UNAMI.
The most urgent issue is for the UNHCR to determine the refugee status of the residents. We expect the EU Member States and the USA to help to resettle the residents as soon as possible. Since the area allocated for these refugees is very small and there is no freedom of movement, unless the police force is moved out, we strongly advice Ashraf leadership to send the next group to Liberty after these 400 are resettled in third countries.
Alejo Vidal Quadras
Vice-President of the European Parliament
President of the international committee “In Search of Justice” (ISJ)
International Committee of In Search of Justice (ISJ) enjoys the support of over 4,000 parliamentarians throughout the world