The High Commissioner for Refugees can prevent another bloodbath in Ashraf by recognizing collective status of Ashraf residents as political refugees
On Wednesday, August 10, in an international conference in Geneva, legislatures, political figures and jurists from Europe and the United States, together with human rights specialists and scholars of international law, while expressing concern for occurrence of another Srebrenica in Ashraf, called on the United Nations and relevant bodies to adopt urgent measures to protect Ashraf residents. By presenting political arguments and well-founded legal opinions, they declared that Ashraf residents are political refugees and that the High Commissioner for Refugees is obliged to immediately reaffirm their collective status as political refugees to thwart another lethal attack by the Iraqi forces on this camp.
Speakers to this conference were: Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance; Howard Dean, six-time Governor of Vermont State 1991-2003, Leader of Democratic Party 2005-2009, and U.S. Presidential candidate; Ed Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania until 2011; Patrick Kennedy, U.S. Congressman 1995-2011, son to late Senator Edward Kennedy; Irene Khan, President of Amnesty International 2001-2010, head of the UNHCR team in former Yugoslavia and Macedonia during the Kosovo crisis in 1999; Ingrid Betancourt, Columbian Presidential candidate; Swiss parliamentarians Jean-Charles Rielle, Eric Voruz, Jacques Neirynck, and Marc Falquet; members of British Houses David Amess, Lord Maginnis, and Lord Clarke; Lucio Malan, Senator from Italy, Teodor Melescanu, Senator from Rumania; Danish parliamentarian Jens Christian Lund; Anne-Marie Lizin, former President of Belgian Senate; Colonel Wesley Martin, former Coalition’s counter terrorism commander in Iraq and US security commander in Ashraf; John Prendergast, renowned human rights activist, former head of African Affairs in the White House National Security Council and collaborator with Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan in Darfur elections in 2011; renowned scholars and jurists such as Professor Eric David, Professor of International Law from Belgium; Dr. Juan Garcès, prominent Spanish lawyer; Goodwin-Gill, Professor from Oxford and expert in refugee matters in international affairs; Marc Bonnant, Prominent Swiss lawyer; Eric Sottas, Director of World Organization Against Torture (OMCT); and Alfred Zayas, professor of international law and international relations in Geneva, and Paulo Casaca, former member of European Parliament. This conference, inaugurated by Nils de Dardel, co-chair of the Swiss Committee in Defense of Ashraf, was moderated by Christiane Perregaux, co-President of the Legislative Council in Geneva.
In her speech Mrs. Rajavi said: It is now two and a half years that due to the transfer of protection of Ashraf from U.S. forces to Maliki, Ashraf residents have been deprived of all of their fundamental rights. In this period, in two cruel massacres, 47 residents have been killed and 1071 injured. A number of others have also passed away due to the medical siege.
She added: In the framework of Secretary-General’s report of July 7 to the UN Security Council, and the April 15 statement by the UNHCHR and the UN Secretary-General, I have come to Geneva to demand explicit and urgent actions for the protection of lives of innocent, defenseless and unarmed human beings against attacks, threats and bloody ultimatums:
First – Stationing a UN observer in Ashraf to monitor incidents;
Second – Reconfirmation of the collective status of Ashraf residents as political refugees by the High Commissioner for Refugees even on a temporary basis. This status will offer them the right to international protection and acts as a protective shield against Maliki that justifies attack by Iraqi forces on Ashraf under the pretext of as if the residents, after quarter of a century legal residence in Iraq, now have no legal status whatsoever;
Third – Immediate initiation of investigations in to the April 8 crime under supervision of United Nations
Fourth – Prompting the Government of Iraq to announce its adherence to the call by the UN Secretary-General to refrain from the use of force and violence, to end inhumane siege and psychological torture, and to withdraw armed personnel from Ashraf, where about one thousand Muslim women live;
Fifth- The U.S. and UN support for the European Parliament solution for resettlement of Ashraf residents in third countries, and providing and ensuring their protection until then.
“The Iranian Resistance, Iranians and Ashraf residents’ families will undertake the UN expenses of protection of Ashraf so that ratification of the budget would not face any difficulty or delay through administrative procedures of the UN and the EU, and the lives of more innocent human beings are not lost”, said Mrs. Rajavi.
She urged UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Pillay to act more quickly because four months after the April 8th massacre, while threats have grown bigger, no measure has been taken yet to prevent recurrence of that massacre and to recognize refugee status of people who are the most eligible to enjoy international protection.
Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
August 10, 2011