Astronomical disparity between realities in Liberty and the description provided by UNAMI and the UN spokesperson;Encouraging the Government of Iraq for further pressure and suppression .

The regrettable lack of human rights and humanitarian standards in Camp Liberty and making it a prison as well as the inaction of UNAMI and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) and providing a fictitious picture of Liberty have raised international outrage.

Yet,  UNAMI’s fact sheet of August 23, 2012 and the remarks of a UN spokesperson on the same day, are intended to once again provide a twisted picture of the realities and to depict Liberty prison as a five star hotel.

The fact sheet states: “The GoI allows Hurriya residents to make their own arrangements for the provision of … the maintenance and rehabilitation of equipment…Residents are free to undertake renovation projects with the approval of camp management. They have completed a range of landscaping initiatives and refurbishment of buildings. They are also free to bring in external contractors to implement these projects, with the agreement of camp management … The camp has a dining facility with an industrial kitchen, a fully equipped gym, a mosque, several community centres, and numerous recreational spaces… Bottled drinking water is imported by the residents. In addition, each resident has at least 200L of water per day for hygiene and other uses… A water pumping and purification plant is being installed in the camp. Electricity is currently provided by 19 generators, half of which operate at any given time to ensure that electricity is provided 24 hours a day.”

This is an obvious attempt to cover up the situation in Liberty and whitewash the UNAMI and Special Representative’s actions on this issue and at the same time an encouragement for the Iranian regime and its puppets in Iraq for exerting further pressure and suppression of Ashraf and Liberty residents. This fact sheet fails to mention many facts, has twisted many others and has shown them reversely or has tried to credit the GoI and UNAMI for some progress that have been achieved solely due the residents’ hard work and their huge costs.

1. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that the SRSG had signed with the GoI without the agreement and knowledge of the residents and did not include even many minimums required by them, has constantly been violated by the GoI. Yet, the UNAMI has always, including in this fact sheet, kept silent over these flagrant violations. Even worse, by praising the GoI practically it has emboldened the GoI in violating the rights of Ashraf and Liberty residents.

2. The MoU underscores that human rights and humanitarian standards must be adhered to at Camp Liberty. But UNAMI always keeps silent over the violation of human rights standards at Liberty. In this fact sheet and all other UNAMI’s statements, there have been no objection to the lack of freedom of movement of the residents and their lack of permission to have access to lawyers. Aren’t these among the basic human rights principles? Is it not that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in its numerous statements including the ones issued on February 1, March 1 and 28, 2012 stipulated on the necessity of  the freedom of movement for Liberty residents?

3. The SRSG and UNAMI have deliberately forgotten the report  by the UN Working Group for the Arbitrary Detention, which stated Liberty is a prison. This report, published on  July 17, 2012, stipulated that “The conditions in Camp Liberty are synonymous with those in a detention centre…, there is no legal justification for holding the above-mentioned persons and other individuals in Camp Liberty, and that such detention is not in conformity with the standards and principles of international human rights law (Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).  The Working Group requested the Government of Iraq “to take the necessary steps to bring conditions in Liberty into conformity with the standards and principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” It demanded “immediate release and lifting of all restraints on the free movement,” as well as an enforceable right “to compensation, in accordance with article 9, paragraph 5, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

4. UN’s mission is to promote the living standards of the of the asylum seekers and refugees. No one can dispute the irrefutable  fact that the living standards in Liberty are egregiously lower than that in Ashraf. The description provided in UNAMI’s fact sheet, even if it is completely accurate, which it is not, might had been acceptable for asylum seekers who have recently escaped their country.  But not for those who turned a barren piece of arid land into a modern city with their own energy and at their own cost  over the past 26 years. UNAMI does not offer any explanation on why it condones such a dreadful degradation in the living standards? The residents of Ashraf were only given the choice between being attacked and massacred or moving to Liberty prison. This is tantamount to forcible relocation. In particular when the residents expressed their readiness to be relocated to third countries, relocation within Iraq was irrelevant  and so far has only delayed the relocation to the third countries . The US Congress, the European Parliament and scores of international human rights bodies , on numerous occasions had demanded that the asylum application be processed and transfer to third countries be conducted from Ashraf. The U.S. Congress in the resolution that it ratified on November 2, 2012 called for “…delaying the camp(Ashraf) closure until the U.N. High Commission for Refugees can resettle the residents in another country.” (Associated Press, November2, 2011)

5. Quite contrary to what UNAMI has claimed, eight months after signing of the MoU and six months after the arrival of the residents at Liberty, despite numerous requests and correspondents by the residents and their representatives to representatives of UNAMI, the GoI, and the US Government, the committee for suppressing Ashraf and Liberty residents at Prime Minister’s Office has not authorized any permission for construction at Liberty. No renovation or even repairs has taken place and contractors have not received the permission to enter Liberty.  No permission for construction of ramps, special rooms for disabled residents, canopies, porches, asphalt or cement path ways has been issued. As such, the residents, including the disabled and elderly residents should walk in rocky roads. The contractors who exceptionally were able to enter to Liberty, were so much harassed by Iraqi forces that have given up working at Liberty.

6. The fact sheet states that “residents are free to undertake renovation projects with the approval of camp management.” Yet it covers up the reality that the camp management is Mohammad Sadeq, an agent of the terrorist Qods Force of the IRGC and the main culprit in two massacres of July 2009 and April 2011. He is under investigation by the court in Spain and while he had traveled to Brussels as a member of the GoI official delegation, he was barred from entering the European Parliament and was arrested in France charged with complicity in torture. One would wonder whether according to the SRSG  this management is line with human rights and humanitarian standards?

7. The fact that the residents by their creativity, hard work, and utilizing the most rudimentary equipments have planted flowers, have constructed some public areas, or have turned obsolete warehouses and  trailers into sporting areas, has nothing to do with GoI or UNAMI. The GoI has gone out of its way to prevent the improvement of living conditions at Liberty. To that end, and in order to make the living conditions even harsher, it prevents the transfer of equipments such as personal vehicles, cranes, forklifts, construction and technical equipments to Liberty. These are equipments that are fundamentally needed for daily life of a community of several thousand people.

8. Negotiations and correspondents of the residents and their representatives with the representatives of UN and the US Government throughout the past six months for the transfer of only five forklifts with lower capacity (out of dozens of forklifts) have been futile. As a result the residents have been forced to carry heavy loads on their backs or with their hands. This has resulted in multitude cases of serious physical ailment. On the same token, in spite of the agreement with the SRSG, the GoI prevents the transfer of one personal vehicle for every 40 residents (in total only five percent of the vehicles of the residents). These vehicles are a necessity for transportation in extremely hot weather, in particular for ill and disabled residents.  “Making the living conditions intolerable” is the stated policy of the GoI. It was announced by the National Security Advisor of Maliki of the time,  immediately following the transfer of Ashraf protection to the GoI.

5. Quite contrary to what UNAMI has claimed, eight months after signing of the MoU and six months after the arrival of the residents at Liberty, despite numerous requests and correspondents by the residents and their representatives to representatives of UNAMI, the GoI, and the US Government, the committee for suppressing Ashraf and Liberty residents at Prime Minister’s Office has not authorized any permission for construction at Liberty. No renovation or even repairs has taken place and contractors have not received the permission to enter Liberty.  No permission for construction of ramps, special rooms for disabled residents, canopies, porches, asphalt or cement path ways has been issued. As such, the residents, including the disabled and elderly residents should walk in rocky roads. The contractors who exceptionally were able to enter to Liberty, were so much harassed by Iraqi forces that have given up working at Liberty.

6. The fact sheet states that “residents are free to undertake renovation projects with the approval of camp management.” Yet it covers up the reality that the camp management is Mohammad Sadeq, an agent of the terrorist Qods Force of the IRGC and the main culprit in two massacres of July 2009 and April 2011. He is under investigation by the court in Spain and while he had traveled to Brussels as a member of the GoI official delegation, he was barred from entering the European Parliament and was arrested in France charged with complicity in torture. One would wonder whether according to the SRSG  this management is line with human rights and humanitarian standards?

7. The fact that the residents by their creativity, hard work, and utilizing the most rudimentary equipments have planted flowers, have constructed some public areas, or have turned obsolete warehouses and  trailers into sporting areas, has nothing to do with GoI or UNAMI. The GoI has gone out of its way to prevent the improvement of living conditions at Liberty. To that end, and in order to make the living conditions even harsher, it prevents the transfer of equipments such as personal vehicles, cranes, forklifts, construction and technical equipments to Liberty. These are equipments that are fundamentally needed for daily life of a community of several thousand people.

8. Negotiations and correspondents of the residents and their representatives with the representatives of UN and the US Government throughout the past six months for the transfer of only five forklifts with lower capacity (out of dozens of forklifts) have been futile. As a result the residents have been forced to carry heavy loads on their backs or with their hands. This has resulted in multitude cases of serious physical ailment. On the same token, in spite of the agreement with the SRSG, the GoI prevents the transfer of one personal vehicle for every 40 residents (in total only five percent of the vehicles of the residents). These vehicles are a necessity for transportation in extremely hot weather, in particular for ill and disabled residents.  “Making the living conditions intolerable” is the stated policy of the GoI. It was announced by the National Security Advisor of Maliki of the time,  immediately following the transfer of Ashraf protection to the GoI.

9. Not only the issue of water shortage, but the approach of the UNAMI and the Special Representative to that is very disappointing. At first it was pretended as though there was no shortage of water at Liberty and pictures of running tap water were sent to the residents. However, it was later determined that not only Liberty had no drinking water but there was no running water in the camp either.
On daily basis, close to a number of 100 residents at great costs of their own try to transport water to Liberty from 12 kilometers away. Preventing the transfer of the residents’ own water tankers from Ashraf to Liberty, the GoI makes the supplying of water even more difficult. In spite of all these efforts, the water level does not suffice the residents on many days since a significant portion of it is used for cooling worn out generators.
The SRSG has repeatedly promised the residents that camp Liberty would be connected to the city water pipe.  In a letter dated April 24, he wrote to the residents’ representative that the initial work had started and camp Liberty would soon be connected to the city main water line. On May 28 and 31, the SRSG informed the residents that the camp would be connected to the city water pipe before Ramadan. But then in June he informed the residents that the project was not feasible. On July 26, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi subsequently introduced a plan to the SRSG in which the residents could pump water from a nearby river to camp Liberty and purify it inside the camp. This plan would have cost $ 2,550000 which the residents had agreed to pay in full and if it wasn’t for the GoI’s obstructions, it would have already been completed. Despite the fact that the costs have been paid by the residents and the equipments have been purchased, the plan is progressing slowly and with great difficulty due to the obstructions caused by the GoI.

10. Contrary to what was claimed on the fact sheet, electricity remains to be  a serious problem at Liberty. The GoI is preventing the transfer of the six 1.5 Megawatt generators from Ashraf to camp Liberty. These generators can play an important role in supplying power at camp Liberty. They were purchased and installed at the time when the camp was under the control of the U.S. forces and their purchase documents were given by the residents to the SRSG, UNAMI and the U.S. authorities. The 19 generators referred to by UNAMI are totally worn out, and some of them are completely inoperable. Therefore, they consume a lot of fuel in a way that the residents had to spend about 2.5 million dollars in 6 months on fuel. The GoI does not permit the residents to purchase fuel from the Iraqi market and therefore they have to import fuel from out of Iraq for ten times as much in price.

11. In a recent assessment of these generators in late July, the British Cummins Company pointed out, “Work hour of these generators as of right now is between 12000 to18000 hours, usually you have to have the engine and alternator overhaul when the work hours get at this point which has not been done for these generators, this might cause problems and it could make a generator out of order any time.

We inspected 14 generators, 5 generators has engine problems or missing some parts are out of order and cannot be used, seven generator need to have engine over haul and their efficiency and potency is very low, most of them with less than 50 percent potency although their fuel and oil usage is very high, two generator because of radiator problem can be used only in some hours of a day or night.
This generator water temperature goes very high beside high usage of fuel and oil burning adding hot weather condition and system has to be cool done by pouring water on radiator, the amount of water needed for cooling all these generators is at least 12000 LT. per day.
Due to lack of proper hourly, monthly services fuel usage of these generators are very high.
Financially the cost for repair these generators would be very high and considering the restriction and limitations of part in Iraq it would take some time before the repair be completed.
Finally after all the repairs and fixing all the generators each section has to have a generator as a back up to be sure.”

The UNAMI and US officials were informed of the above document on August 14.

12- If according to the fact sheet and the UN spokesperson, international standards and the minimum humanitarian needs are met at Liberty, why the GoI does not allow the families, lawyers, parliamentarians, human rights advocates or even the US military officers who were in charge of protecting Ashraf in the past and have now requested to visit Camp Liberty to enter the camp? Why the gates of Liberty are closed to these people? And why UNAMI has not supported their attempts to visit camp Liberty?

Baseless claims on the conditions at camp Liberty and publishing false reports as well as selected and doctored photos are nothing new and unfortunately have been the norm by UNAMI and the SRSG over this period. The UNAMI description of the area of the camp for to the residents that was reduced to 600000 square meters, the condition of the trailers, water and sewage system and the establishments for the disabled etc all have been astronomically far frrom the truth.

Rather than continue  to try to provide an unreal picture of the situation at Liberty, the United Nations must hold the GoI committed to providing the conditions to meet the humanitarian and human rights standards, and must attempt to open the doors of Camp Liberty to the lawyers, parliamentarians and human rights advocates and report the continuous violations by the GoI to the UN Security Council asking the UNSC to intervene to safeguard the security and protection of the residents.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
August 25, 2012
..

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