European-U.S. Call for Annulment of Iraqi Government Suppressive Deadline to Close the Camp Prevent a humanitarian Catastrophe
BRUSSELS (BELGIUM) -OfficialWire – 10/19/2011 by Sammer Asar
A conference held at the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, 19 October 2011, looked into the volatile humanitarian situation of a refugee camp in Iraq that has been the focal attention of the 27 EU heads as well as the US and Iran for the past several months.
Camp Ashraf, which has become a mounting international attention, has been in the spotlight since an April raid by Iraqi security which left 34 dead and scores injured, triggering sharp condemnation. Iraq Al Maliki, reportedly by demands from Tehran, wants its closure by December 31.
The Camp, home for the past 30 years to 3,400 Iranian dissidents, is now facing a deadly expulsion.
The conference called on the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and western governments to adopt urgent measures to ensure protection of Ashraf and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and to obligate the Iraqi government to remove its deadline until the resettlement of all residents to third countries.
Participants in particular blamed the United States for its failure to abide by its responsibility to protect the residents. The conference emphasized that the U.S. would be fully responsible for another bloodbath in Ashraf. The conference also called on the U.S. President and the State Department to remove the PMOI from the FTO list as a first essential step to ensure protection of Ashraf.
Speakers to the conference, presided by Mr. James Higgins, member of the European Parliament Bureau, were: Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the NCRI; Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament; Mr. Stephen Hughes, Vice President of the Socialist Group; Louis Michel, MEP and former Belgian Foreign Minister and European Commissioner; Judge Michael Mukasey, former U.S. Attorney General (2007-09); Louis Freeh, Director of FBI (1993-2001);
Günter Verheugen, European Commissioner (1999-2009) and former Advisory Minister in German Foreign Ministry; Colonel Wesley Martin, former Coalition’s counter terrorism commander in Iraq and former U.S. security commander in Ashraf.
In her speech Maryam Rajavi, revealed that sources of the resistance inside Iran have informed her of a joint Iranian regime – Iraqi government plot to attack and occupy a section of the camp.
She added: “Currently, the Iraqi government is making military preparations to conduct this plot.The Iraqi government wants to disrupt the UNHCR work to confirm refugee status of the residents in a bid to use lack of progress as a pretext for another deadly attack at the end of December,”
She asked the UN Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to station UN monitors at Ashraf as soon as possible as a guarantee to avert the next humanitarian catastrophe. She also urged the United States, all EU Member States, Baroness Ashton and the United Nations to voice protest over Iraqi government’s dangerous deadline for closure of Ashraf by the end of December and to not be witness to another catastrophe about which they were warned in advance.
On Tuesday former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean said: “The US remains morally responsible for the people of Ashraf. We have 74 days left until the deadline,” he told a gathering of hundreds in Brussels. “We have 74 days left until all the American troops are withdrawn and there is no protection left.”
The camp’s residents are being assessed individually by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees after applying for refugee status, to allow them to resettle elsewhere, but fears are that the process cannot be completed within the time-frame set by Baghdad.
Last month, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton appointed an advisor to help resolve the issue and the head of a European parliament group on Iraq, MEP Struan Stevenson, said “Ambassador De Ruyt should visit Ashraf as soon as possible”.
The message of the conference was clear: “Cancel the suppressive deadline set by the Iraqi government otherwise will be massive Humanitarian Catastrophe and bloodshed in Camp Ashraf”.