The Iraqi Government’s Declaration of War on the UN and Death Warrant for Ashraf Residents

US, EU, UN’s Grave Responsibility to Prevent a Humanitarian Catastrophe in Ashraf

The Iraqi Embassy in Brussels has notified the European Parliament of the position of the Iraqi Government on the issue of Camp Ashraf in a 10-point official document. The document is disingenuous and illegal in its entirety and amounts to a virtual declaration of war on the UN and international community and a death warrant for the residents of Ashraf. It reiterates the intention to clear the camp by the end of the year, claims the 3400 residents of Ashraf are terrorists, denies that they have any status as refugees or protection under the Geneva Conventions and confirms that their continued presence is creating difficulties with neighbouring Iran. It clearly opposes attempts by the UNHCR to interview the residents and provide them with refugee status.

The document stresses that “the Iraqi government is committed to its decision to close Camp Ashraf by the end of 2011,” and since resettlement “did not lead to any results because of either refusal by the inhabitants of the Camp to evacuate, or non-willingness of those States to receive them…, the Iraqi government was left with no choice but to evacuate the Camp based on the principle of sovereignty, and transfer its residents to other camps in Iraq and facilitate their travel outside Iraq during the period left from this year.”

The document deliberately ignores the extensive efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI), the European Union, and United States, who have bent over backwards to reach a peaceful resolution to the Ashraf issue involving the resettlement of its residents, but have been repeatedly blocked at every turn by the Iraqi Government. The document is a blatant effort to set the stage for the massacre of Ashraf residents, clearly at the behest of the Iranian regime. The UNHCR, European Parliament, US Congress, Amnesty International and other international bodies have repeatedly demanded in past months that the wholly unworkable deadline for closure of Ashraf by the end of 2011 should be extended until such time as refugee status of its residents could be affirmed by the UNHCR, enabling their safe transfer to third countries.

The 10 point document clearly shows that this a policy dictated by the Iranian regime. It explicitly states that Iraq is committed to non-interference in the internal affairs of neighboring states and “the existence of this Organization however raises problems with Iran.” In another part of the document it is stated, “The presence of this Organization in Iraq threatens… the security of neighboring countries and gives an excuse to neighboring countries [Iran] to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq.” Article 10 of the document states, “Iraq, as a democratic and peaceful country, wants to build peaceful relations with the neighboring countries {Iran]…”

The document falsely states the reason for the closure of Ashraf to be “the Organization [PMOI] has already been classified by the international community as a terrorist organization” and “The presence of the Organization is prohibited under the Iraqi Constitution that prohibits the presence of any terrorist entity on Iraqi territory.”

The letter ludicrously says, “Iraq is dealing with the residents of the camp as individuals and in accordance with the human rights principles and rules of international law enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” It appears as if the massacre of 47 residents, wounding of more than 1,000 others, the barbaric three-year siege of Ashraf, and the denial of medical facilities causing the painful death of sick and wounded patients, is according to the Iraqi Government an integral part of the principles of human rights enshrined in international law. This is quite simply a joke!

Since the letter leaves no doubt about the Iraqi government’s intentions for the massacre of Ashraf residents, I find it necessary to stress the following points:

1. The international community, in particular the United States of America, the European Union, and the United Nations, must mobilise all their efforts to prevent another predictable bloodbath and a repeat of Srebrenica in Ashraf. The Iraqi government, whose hands are stained with the blood of unarmed and defenceless Iranian refugees, came to power with the help of the US and British and other Western governments. These countries, therefore, bear an important moral responsibility in preventing this looming catastrophe

2. The international community, in particular the United States of America and the European Union, must fully support the mission of the United Nations and the UNHCR for the affirmation of Ashraf residents’ refugee status and their resettlement to third countries. They must force the Iraqi government to postpone its deadline until the completion of this process. The United States in particular must prevent a great tragedy by precluding the Iraqi government from implementing the orders of the fascist dictatorship in Iran who seek the annihilation of Ashraf. If such a tragedy were to occur, the United States would bear the greatest responsibility.

3. The European Union and its High Representative, Catherine Ashton, must adopt a clear position by condemning the Iraqi deadline and any forcible relocation of Ashraf residents inside Iraq. EU member states should immediately accept some of the Ashraf residents, particularly the ill and wounded, and persons who have been asylum seekers or who have family relations in European countries. This would be a tangible sign that the evacuation process had begun and would make any invasion of the camp by the Iraqi authorities more difficult to accomplish under the eyes of the world’s media.

4. Any promises by the Iraqi Government are worthless. A few hours prior to the start of shooting in April 2011, the residents of Ashraf received a message via the US Embassy from the Iraqi Prime Minister giving assurances that there would be no violence. When Ashraf residents are dispersed in small groups, Iraqi forces and the terrorist Iranian Qods force will torture and assassinate them without the world being informed. In such circumstances if the world stands aside and allows matters to take their course without intervening, the resident of Ashraf, including more than 1000 women, face certain death.

Struan Stevenson, MEP
President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq
18 November 2011

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