Press Release 4 July 2011
As the lawyers of Camp Ashraf residents, international jurists, and legal counsels on behalf of 8,500 jurists in Europe and the United States who defend the rights of People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) and its members, we warn against another bloodbath in Ashraf following the remarks made by Ambassador James Jeffrey regarding relocation of Ashraf residents “to a place that is a bit safer, a bit further from Iran” and urging them to “dissolve their paramilitary organization and become refugees someplace else in Iraq” as published by the McClatchy Newspapers yesterday.
The Iranian regime and Mr. al-Maliki extremely welcome these statements that pave the way for a much bigger crime against humanity in Ashraf.
These remarks are absolutely illegal and are in stark contrast with the International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, Common Article Three of Geneva Conventions, article two of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, the European Parliament Resolutions on 24 April 2009 and 25 November 2010 on Ashraf, and the fundamental principle of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP).
With regard to the April 8th massacre in Ashraf, Ms. Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, asked for “a full, independent and transparent inquiry”. Baroness Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, underscored in this regard, “the inquiry and condemnation are absolute”. However, it seems as if the subject has been changed completely and the way for bloodshed is being paved quickly; all of a sudden, the European Parliament’s plan for transfer of Ashraf residents to third countries, which enjoyed vast support, is ignored.
Simultaneity of these remarks with the requests of the Iranian regime and its Intelligence Minister for dissolution of the PMOI is shocking. At the same time, religious and political decrees are issued that practically permits killing of anybody affiliated to the mullahs’ regime’s main opposition. This attempt is supposed to take place in a location “a bit safer, a bit further from Iran” compared to Ashraf that is known worldwide, and Mr. Ambassador says that he would work with the UN in this regard.
Last week, the ICRC denied the claims made by Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, and President Talabani who had said the ICRC, in a joint committee with the Iranian and Iraqi regimes, is working on closure of Camp Ashraf. Now, we wait for the UN and UNAMI’s remarks and we hope they would fulfill their defined legal responsibilities to save the lives of defenseless and unarmed residents of Ashraf who are called “paramilitary” by Ambassador Jeffrey in a questionably manner, ironically eight years after the United States severely bombarded the residents of PMOI’s camps in Iraq whom it acknowledged to be non-belligerent in the war, and then after a 16 month investigation by 9 American agencies and individual interviews with all residents, it announced that it had found no terrorist among them and they handed over all their military equipment to the US forces.
The US government confirmed their status as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention and notified it to the ICRC and the UNHCR, and based on the agreement it signed with each and every of them, it assumed their protection until their final disposition.
Nevertheless, these 3,400 people have been in home arrest for the past eight years. Since the transfer of protection from the US forces to the Iraqi government in February 2009, a very sever blockade, particularly an inhumane medical and medicine siege has been going on against them along with the highest type of repression, and psychological torture day and night through 300 loudspeakers, and piles of allegations and lies that the French Judiciary ruled to their invalidity after ten years of investigation.
In the crime against humanity on April 8th, al-Maliki, who is a “mass murderer” as described by Howard Dean, former head of the Democratic Party (Washington Times, 27 April 2011), killed more than 1% of the Ashraf residents, targeted and wounded 10% of them with direct shots and grenades, and crushed 22 of them under the wheels of armored vehicles. But it seems as if the thirst for blood in the new Iraq and the new dictatorship is not going to abate as pointed out by Dr. Allawi, head of the winning political coalition in the Iraqi elections.
The delegations from the European Parliament and the US Congress, who had gone to Iraq to visit Ashraf, faced Iraqi government’s prevention and the US Embassy’s opposition. On the other hand, however, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, whose minister is not assigned yet, has staged preposterous shows two times so far in which the agents of the Iranian regime’s Intelligence Ministry under the guise of former members of the PMOI have made propaganda against the Ashraf residents with the scenarios dictated by the religious Gestapo. This is while Ashraf’s gate is still closed to the reporters, parliamentarians and to us, the lawyers who have been demanding to see our clients since two and a half years ago. The Iraqi people and national leaders stress on the rights of Ashraf residents. Since a few years ago Mr. Allawi has described them as political refugees under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Yesterday, Vice President Tariq Hashemi once again announced: “Presence of Ashraf residence is a legal presence in the framework of the International Law and they should not be harmed so their final disposition will be determinde based on the International Law”.
Earlier, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry described Iraq’s military attack on camp Ashraf and the April 8 tragedy as “deeply disturbing and unacceptable” and announced: “First, the Iraqis must stop the bleeding and refrain from any further military action against Camp Ashraf. Second, the Iraqi government has announced a full investigation into the massacre and it must be thorough and serious.
The investigation must hold accountable the responsible parties and ensure that there will be no sequel to these horrific events. Third, the current situation at the camp is untenable. The United States must redouble efforts with all the relevant parties – including the Iraqi government, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Mujahedin-e Khalq itself – to seek a peaceful and durable solution, and to find permanent homes for the residents of Camp Ashraf.”
There is a deep gap between these logical and humanitarian instructions, which are compatible with the recognized norms of human rights and International Law, with what has been said by the U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad. President Obama has said that he stands by the Iranian people against Iran’s cruel dictatorship. Based on U.S. obligations, the fate of Ashraf and protection of its residents is a test that the world and the public opinion as well as the U.S. public opinion are watching carefully.
The lawyers and the jurists have announced their opinions in 16 well-founded legal opinions. Now, after two and a half years of crime, massacre, siege and torture, and after it has been proved that Maliki’s government has no motivation, ability or competence to protect our clients, based on article 45 of the Geneva Convention, the United States should resume protection of Ashraf. Forcible displacement is illegal and equivalent to massacre and crime against humanity in larger scales.
We call upon the United Nations Secretary-General, the United Nations Security Council and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Iraq to implement RtoP principle. In its resolution of 10 March 2011, the European Parliament rightly announced: “Issues of sovereignty and domestic jurisdiction can no longer be used to shield states from scrutiny on their human rights records.”
Worldwide values and legal and humanitarian principles that are right and legitimate in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Syria are right and legitimate for Iraq and Iran as well.
International Committee of Jurists in Defence of Ashraf