Iraq’s democracy on trial

THE INDEPENDENT – By Lord Corbett – 17 August 2011
The murder of 50 defenceless Iranian pro-democracy dissidents by Iraqi troops recently must add to the headache of the wives and husbands, children, brothers and sisters and grandparents of those who gave their lives to help Iraqis find their way to democracy after Saddam Hussein.

Not least because seven out of every 10 UK, US and Coalition troops were killed by Iranian-made and supplied roadside bombs planted by people trained and paid by Tehran’s meddling mullahs.

 Iraq’s government, put in place by Iran, has twice murderously assaulted Camp Ashraf, north-east of Baghdad and home to 3,400 Iranian dissidents for 25 years. Those killed were shot at point-blank range while more than 1,000 Muslim women and men were injured – then denied the medical assistance they needed and space to bury their dead after this April’s assault.

No wonder Iraq’s undertakings to secure the safety and security of Ashraf residents are exposed as mock hollow. Iraq cannot slaughter and injure Ashraf residents at will and still pretend it is living up to its obligations under international humanitarian law.

How did this happen? Because the US accepted Iraqi promises to look after residents two years ago – and then walked away. The US looked the other way despite its own evidence that Iraq, at Iran’s orders, was set on removing Camp Ashraf by the end of this year “at any price” in the words of a government spokesman.

This despite the US still having 47,000 troops in Iraq and in international law the ‘protected persons’ status it gave to residents still enforceable until the final status of the dissidents is settled.

Dutch troops walked away in 1995 when, as UN peacekeepers, they then looked the other way as Serbian troops slaughtered Muslim civilians at Srebrenica. A Dutch court earlier this year ordered the government to pay compensation to the families of victims its troops failed to protect.

Ashraf residents do not want compensation for their impending slaughter. They want the US, with UN authority, to monitor events at Camp Ashraf to prevent the massacre Iraq now plans by the end of this year.

It is going to happen. It is not a matter of whether, only when.

Will the US and UK look the other way rather than take Iraq to the UN Security Council, not only to save the threatened dissidents but also to help uphold the fragile democracy for which they asked their troops to give their lives and limbs?

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale is Chairman of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom


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