International jurists, human rights advocates, Swiss political and parliamentary figures warn: Iraqi Government’s hindrances in UNHCR’s work at Ashraf is setting the stage for massacre of residents
On the 200th day of the Ashraf residents’ family members and supports’ sit-in in Geneva, in a press conference held in the city’s press club, prominent international jurists, human rights advocates and Swiss political and parliamentary figures strongly condemned the Iraqi Government’s illegal ultimatum to close down Camp Ashraf by the end of the year. They warned that at the behest of the Iranian regime, the Iraqi Government is resorting to various hindrances to prevent the UNHCR’s work at Ashraf in order to set the stage for the massacre of Ashraf residents.
Speakers at the press conference included: Geoffrey Robertson (QC), the British prominent jurist; and former Judge in the UN War Crimes Court in Sierra Leone; Prof. Eric David, President, Centre of International Law, the Free University of Brussels; Yves Bonnet, honorary Governor and former Chief of the French Counter-terrorism Organization (DST); Christiane Perregaux, co-president of the Constituent Assembly of the Council of Geneva; Jean-Charles Rielle and Eric Voruz, Members of the Swiss Federal Parliament; Gianfranco Fattorini, Co-Chair of Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples (MRAP); Professor Alfred Zayas, senior legal advisor of High Commissioner for Human Rights for 22 years; and Mr. Abol-Qassem Rezai who spoke on behalf of the Ashraf residents’ family members. The Conference was presided by Eric Sotas, former President of the World Organization Against Torture and a prominent Swiss human rights figure.
The speakers stressed that following the petitions of each and every Camp Ashraf residents, the UNHCR took a positive step on 13 September in announcing it recognizes Ashraf residents as asylum seekers and calling for their rights to be respected. However, despite the passage of 50 days and with all the flexibility shown by the camp leadership and Ashraf residents, no practical measure has been taken in this regard due to the Iraqi government’s continuous stonewalling and obstructions at the behest of the Iranian regime.
The speakers emphasized the Iraqi government’s actual objective – which Tehran has enforced upon – is to kill time during the remaining 50 days by resorting to various tactics including the issue of the location of UNHCR interviews, or Ashraf residents not having the right to return to the camp after they leave Ashraf for interviews with the UNHCR. At the end of the year the Iraqi government is seeking to announce that the procedures have not progressed and the only solution is to close down the camp at all costs. This will mean the massacre of the defenseless Ashraf residents, a completely avertible humanitarian catastrophe.
The prominent dignitaries present at the conference called for the extension of the illegal deadline to closedown Ashraf; the UNHCR, UN, US and EU to immediately set aside the barriers for the UNHCR to initiate its process regarding Ashraf residents as soon as possible and reconfirm their refugee status; and UN monitors to station in Ashraf for the rights of the residents to be respected until their transfer to third countries.
Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
November 11, 2011