ICJDA: Reports about the condition of Camp Liberty are very shocking and depict that Liberty is indeed a prison

21 February 2012
Hon. Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary General
United Nations
New York USA

Hon. Ban Ki-moon,

On behalf of the International Committee of Jurists in Defence of Ashraf (ICJDA), comprised of 8500 jurists in both sides of Atlantic, and on behalf of the lawyers for Camp Ashraf residents, I am writing to you to express my objection to the treatment of 400 Ashraf residents during their transfer to and while at Camp Liberty.

As you are aware, on February 17, 2012, four hundred residents of Camp Ashraf, on the brink of leaving for Camp Liberty, were subjected to unusual and offensive inspections. They left at 2:00 am on February 18, and when they reached Camp Liberty at 7:00 am, the individual who had ordered the shooting at residents in previous attacks on Ashraf and who is now wanted by the Spanish court, told residents mockingly that they had to be inspected again, in order to persecute them more.

I pass at the fact that residents were denied taking some of their personal belongings such as blankets and chairs, and that some of their belongings were stolen during inspection by the Iraqi forces. What is surprising and regretful is that this treatment by Iraqi agents, in violation of the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Iraqi government and the UN, was carried on right in front of the UN monitors without any reaction from them.

Reports about the condition of Camp Liberty are very shocking and depict that Liberty is indeed a prison. Scores of police forces are stationed in various parts of the camp, which is less than half a square kilometer and it is said that residents must be accompanied by them even when going to the dining hall.

The Camp’s infrastructure is very unhygienic and in its current condition is completely unusable. There is no running drinking water or water for washing in the Camp.

There is limited electricity. The details of the reports indicate that UNAMI’s statement of January 3, which described the Camp’s condition with respect to infrastructure and technical aspects in accordance with international standards, was completely baseless and untrue. Certainly that was the reason why various requests by Ashraf residents or American dignitaries to visit the Camp in order to assess its condition and deficiencies in advance were unheeded even by UNAMI.

Mr. Secretary General,
During past few years we have had many experiences with the Iraqi government and in none of them we witnessed goodwill and cooperation from the officials of this government towards our clients. Therefore the inhumane treatment of 400 residents during the transfer and in recent days does not surprise us. However, this level of submission to the Iraqi government’s inhumane limitations and pressures on the residents by UNAMI and its distancing from impartiality does surprise us.

That will be a sheer mistake by the UN if it thinks that connivance to Iraqi pressures will reduce those pressures. Experience has shown that if the UN does not stand firm on its human rights and ethical principles and does not defend the residents’ human rights without any fear of the Iraqi government, the pressures will increase.
In the year that is named by you as the “year of R-to-P”, it would be unacceptable that your representative who is directly involved in the issue of Ashraf justifies inhumane and illegal treatment of the Iraqi government under “Sovereignty right” and submits to it. The first 400 residents went to Liberty without any condition to prove their good faith. Now it is up to the Iraqi government, the UN and the US government to reciprocate by their goodwill.

As we wrote to you last week, it is essential that you tell the Iraqis that the presence of their police within the Camp is totally unnecessary and they must be moved outside of the Camp immediately. Moreover the Iraqi authorities must see the UN authority imposed to revoke unjustified orders that they receive from Iran to put pressure on the residents. To this end, freedom of movement and direct access to medical services and lawyers by the residents must be secured as soon as possible. Without these minimums, not another single resident will move from Ashraf to Liberty.

In view of the above points, under current conditions we are very concerned about the situation of the 400 residents who have been transferred to Liberty, and urge you to intervene and apply the UN authority from an impartial position, as expected from the UN. Please keep in mind that many in the world who are watching these scenes will judge how the United Nations defend the rights of the oppressed people against the so-called sovereign dictatorial states.

Respectfully,

Francois Serres,
International Committee of Jurists in Defence of Ashraf (ICJDA)

cc:
– Ambassador Kobler, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General
– Ambassador Lynn Pascoe
– Hon. Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
– Hon. Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights
– Hon. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of the US State Department
– Ambassador Daniel Fried, Special advisor of Secretary Clinton on Ashraf
– Ambassador James Jeffrey, US Ambassador in Iraq
– Hon. Cathrine Ashton, EU High Representative on Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

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