I strongly condemn the mass executions of innocent residents of Camp Ashraf on September 1, 2013. It is particularly disheartening to hear that many of them were handcuffed or injured when they were killed. The world community must hold the Iraqi government accountable for these heinous crimes, as these were refugees designated as such by the UN and therefore deserving the protection of the Iraqi government. Surely the extrajudicial killings of 52 civilians and the taking seven as hostage is a crime against humanity.
I express my deep condolences to the families of the victims. I also join those who have voiced concerns over the fate of the seven hostages (six women and one man), taken from Ashraf. The Government of Iraq must immediately produce and release them. Under no circumstances should the government of Iraq turn them over to the Iranian authorities, as we know that they will face torture and execution there.
They are all protected persons and asylum seekers and thus enjoy protection under international law. The international community must take the steps necessary to ensure their release.
I call on those who promised the people of Ashraf their protection, namely the UN, UNHCR and the US Government to take full responsibility for the safety of the residents in Camp Liberty until they are resettled outside Iraq.
Archbishop Emeritus Cape Town. September 16, 2013