The threat to life is no more severe and no more eminent than at Liberty
The US, the UN and the nations of the whole world must act now to ensure the immediate safety of the stricken residents of Camp Liberty, former US governor Ed Rendell has told an international conference in Switzerland.
The world was lied to over the security and humanitarian conditions at Liberty and they must now been moved swiftly back to Ashraf, he said in a speech in Geneva on February 27. Mr Rendell – leader of Democratic Party from 1999 to 2001 and Governor of Pennsylvania from 2002 to 2011 – said: “We were lied to and we were naïve. There was never any care about protecting residents at Liberty. The whole precedent for going to Liberty was that it was going to be safer. It wasn’t isolated, it was near Baghdad. It is also a hellhole.
“Every promise made about the conditions at Liberty, about what is in the Memorandum of Understanding, what residents of Ashraf could bring with them, almost every promise has been violated.
US bears special responsibility for protection of the residents
“The US bears special responsibility because in 2003, representatives of the US government and the US military persuaded the residents of Ashraf to disarm. They were well armed and able to protect themselves. In return for disarming, we gave every and each one of those people a signed paper saying that they would be protected by the USA and their safety and security would be protected by the US.
“In 2009 when the first attack by Iraqi federal police using US weapons took place, the State Department issued a strong statement of condemnation and nothing changed.
“In 2011, American troops were near Ashraf, they got notified in advance that this attack was taking place and instead of moving to stop the attack, they were withdrawn and told to fall back and move away from Ashraf.
“After the slaughter in April 2011 what did the US State Department do? It issued a strong statement of condemnation and nothing changed. Then this past February 9th, after the attack and death of 7 more residents, the State Department issued another strong statement of condemnation.”
Mr Rendell said when the US tried to persuade the residents of Ashraf to go to Liberty, it issued the following statement: “If the residents of Ashraf move to Liberty, the US government would commit to support the safety and security of the residents in Liberty.”
He added: “Now can somebody in this room tell me what the US government did to ensure the safety and security of residents in Liberty?”
Then on August 29 last year, the US government issued another statement reiterating its continued commitment to the safety and security of Liberty residents, Mr Rendell told delegates.
He said: “So we have two statements saying that we were actually committing to support the safety and security. We didn’t, we hadn’t, we should be ashamed.”
Four options to resolve the situation
There were now four options available to resolve the situation, Mr Rendell said.
Firstly, strengthen the safety and security at Liberty. But he said that is not possible because it is too small and overcrowded and the buildings are not bomb or mortar resistant.
Secondly, speed up the resettlement process. But Mr Rendell said that could take up to year and lives would remain at risk was it was happening.
Thirdly, move the residents back to Ashraf. The dissidents would be safer there than at Liberty, but still not completely safe, he said.
And the fourth option was for the US to step in and honor the moral and legal commitments it gave to every resident of Liberty, Mr Rendell declared.
He said: “The American government said so in a contract in 2003 and statements time after time after time that we are committed to guarantee the safety and security of those people. How many more have to die, how many more have to be injured before we stand up and do the right thing?
“It is time the nations of the world act to right the wrongs. The threat to life is no more severe and no more eminent than at Liberty. It is time for the nations of the world, the UN, and the US government to stop talking and start acting.”