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UN Turned Into 'An Instrument' in Hands of The Iraqi Government

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The Government of Iraq, acting as a surrogate for Iran, is using the United Nations as a tool it manipulates, for its own ends.

Access to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been severely restricted, by forcing anyone dealing with the government to fall in line with their policy on Ashraf.

In a speech to a UK Parliamentary Conference, on International Human Rights Day, Tahar Boumedra, the former Advisor to UNSG Special Representative to Iraq on Camp Ashraf, confirmed this fact. Mr. Boumedra said, "al-Maliki has made it a real condition for any diplomat to sort of have access to him or the whole administration, to have access to anything in Iraq you have to go in line of the government's policy on Ashraf."

UN Is A Tool Of Iraq

Referring to the relationship between the UN and Iraq, Mr Boumedra said the UN is "there as an instrument." This policy is open, not hidden. Mr Boumedra cited Security Council Resolution 1770 (2007), which said clearly that UNAMI is there to assist the government of Iraq upon its request.

"So now the UN has become an instrument in the hands of the Iraqi government to fulfill their policies the way they see them and the way they conceive them. We are there as an instrument. And this is an instrument that is not sort of hidden. The Security Council Resolution 1770 (2007) said clearly that UNAMI is there to assist the government of Iraq upon its request. So it's only when al-Maliki says I need your help on that issue that we intervene. And this is why in Ashraf we have to do exactly what al-Maliki needs to do. And if al-Maliki is not happy, the SRSG will go. And this is happened to Melkert."
Tahar Boumedra, former Advisor to UNSG Special Representative to Iraq on Camp Ashraf

Iraqis Tell Lies

The Iraqis have been telling lies about Ashraf for three years, a fact brought to light by the people of Ashraf, many times, and confirmed in this speech by Mr Boumedra.

Mr Boumedra said "During the three years and a half I never received any allegation from the Ashrafis that did not turn true. And I had never dealt with an allegation from the Iraqi Government that did not turn to be false, including when I went to do the body count when the massacre of 36 people happened. I went to Ashraf and did the body count and I went back to Baghdad and together with the US Ambassador Butler, we went to the Chief of Staff Maliki together with his National Security Advisor and the political advisor plus the office of human rights within the prime minister's office. I showed them their file and I said to them there are 36 bodies, 36 people killed. And they looked at each other as if I'm fabricating a story. I showed them the film; they didn't want to see it."

Presumption Of Innocence Turned On Its Head

UNAMI stands accused of changing the rule of presumption of innocence to the presumption of guilt. The UN organization contributed to perpetuate a stigma against the people of Ashraf.

Iraqis Are A Group Of Terrorists

Mr Boumedra said the UN took the approach that the Iraqis were a group of terrorists, so they needed to be treated carefully.

"...when I first took the position of chief of human rights office in Baghdad I went through that action. I was briefed and during all my induction, it was like be careful you are dealing with a group of terrorists. And I started my job really with this kind of perception that I have in front of me a file of terrorists. And I kept following the issues for three years and a half."

Here is the complete text of Mr. Boumedra's speech.

UK Parliamentary Conference: International Human Rights Day

Speaker: Tahar Boumedra, former Advisor to UNSG Special Representative to Iraq on Camp Ashraf

Honorable members of this House, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am going to say the truth and exactly the truth the way I lived it in Iraq and in Ashraf. And as I said in the Congress, I am prepared to say what I'm saying in front of any court of law. In fact, as a matter of propaganda, I was asked to deliver a letter to the Iraqi Government to sort of certify that they are giving the right medical treatment to the residents. Again some favors. And just for a government to request the UN to certify that they are behaving well in Ashraf against allowing me to access detainees and other issues of human rights.

Tahar Boumedra
Tahar Boumedra, former Advisor to UNSG Special Representative to Iraq on Camp Ashraf, speaking at UK Parliamentary Conference on International Human Rights Day

So this is a testimony that I am making or not and I will do it while the Ashrafi's were actually deprived, denied access to hospitals and yet I was tapped on the shoulder and said give us the letter. So this is the kind of environment we dealt with the Ashraf issue, Ashraf file. And let me say from the very beginning, that the UN, including my office, the office of the UN Mission of Assistance in Iraq, the Human Rights Office was the office directly concerned with the situation in Ashraf and we were there to directly monitor human rights and humanitarian situation but we did create and did contribute into dissimulating or rather sticking a stigma to the Ashrafis.

The stigma was first created in certain reports. Of course with two governments behind it, the government of Iran and the government of Iraq, then you all know about those reports that came out; one by the Human Rights Watch and the second by the RAND, the commissioned committee by the Pentagon to sort of enlighten the Pentagon by the situation in Ashraf. But in fact these two reports, together with the UN reports, have perpetrated the stigma against the Ashrafis or the concepts that were put to the Ashrafis from being a cult to being terrorists, and to being this and that.

And believe me that when I first took the position of chief of human rights office in Baghdad I went through that action. I was briefed and during all my induction, it was like be careful you are dealing with a group of terrorists. And I started my job really with this kind of perception that I have in front of me a file of terrorists. And I kept following the issues for three years and a half.

During the three years and a half I never received any allegation from the Ashrafis that did not turn true. And I had never dealt with an allegation from the Iraqi Government that did not turn to be false, including when I went to do the body count when the massacre of 36 people happened. I went to Ashraf and did the body count and I went back to Baghdad and together with the US Ambassador Butler, we went to the Chief of Staff Maliki together with his National Security Advisor and the political advisor plus the office of human rights within the prime minister's office. I showed them their file and I said to them there are 36 bodies, 36 people killed. And they looked at each other as if I'm fabricating a story. I showed them the film; they didn't want to see it.

image006-050104

I requested an inquiry, they said to me that we will do the inquiry our way. What is their way of inquiry? I sat there with them in the prime minister's office and they showed me a number of pictures of grenades and some light weapons, pistols and Kalashnikovs. They put on the table a picture and they showed me that picture as evidence that there are weapons in Camp Ashraf and those weapons have been used to kill Ashrafis themselves.

So those pictures, I know that they are not even properly done. They are just pictures you could easily collect in any resource. But never mind, those pictures were used and distributed to the embassies in Baghdad, together with some statements. Those statements were statements of the security forces who were involved in the incident, in the attack. And that was the investigation made by the government of Iraq. And the UN was very happy. They called for an investigation, there is an investigation and there is a report. And that was the end of the matter. The UN had never requested again a report. They had never tried to do anything about it. And I kept reminding the Secretary General's special representative that we have to be consistent in our practice, we have to be consistent in our report when we requested an independent inquiry; we cannot just forget it, it has to take place. But it never took place, 36 people were dead.

And also, another testimony that I have to make is that the 36 people were kept for 41 days and buried in a makeshift morgue in the kind of temperatures you know in Iraq. So I kept asking the Iraqis every day to give permission to bury them. And here again I was asked to deliver a letter to the Iraqi security forces that it's the Ashrafis who were refusing to bury them. After 41 days the bodies started decomposing and I kept telling them this is not the Islamic teaching.

In Islam a body has to be quickly buried, as soon as possible. And yet they were kept for 41 day and then when it came to burying them I was asked to give a letter that Ashrafis are the ones who refuse to bury them. And that was again the kind of issues that the UN report never mentioned. And even if I mentioned it, it will never go beyond the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG).

So let me be frank, it's Kobler, but also the previous ones, who also contributed to setting this kind of perception about the Ashrafis and perpetrated the perception and also the stigma. Of course, since the arrival of SRSG Kobler, thing became so fragrant and so blatant that the UN is there to close down Camp Ashraf and that was clearly done by the MOU, the Memorandum of Understanding. But before the arrival of the SRSG Kobler, the previous one was clearly saying, and I could remember exactly on the 17th of May, 2010, in a gathering of all the ambassadors in Baghdad, he told them that the UN agenda is so big in Iraq and we don't want such a little item to undermine the whole business of the UN in Iraq. That was on record and it's documented.

So the issue of why everybody stands against this is because al-Maliki has made it a real condition for any diplomat to sort of have access to him or the whole administration, to have access to anything in Iraq you have to go in line of the government's policy on Ashraf. So when the SRSG stands before all the diplomats and tells them a small issue like Ashraf, I am not going to allow it to undermine the whole UN agenda, you will see where injustice is done and how it's been perpetrated. The issue of fuel, the Iraqi government always said we give them, we deliver them enough fuel and the Ashrafis say we don't receive fuel.

So I need to go and visit and inspect the reservoirs. And as I said from the very beginning the Ashrafis always turned out to be the right one in their allegations, which are not allegations, it's the reality. When we go back to the report, we are employees of the UN and most of us try to keep their job. They are not there to defend human rights, we are there to defend our jobs. So before I do anything, I have to make sure that my report will satisfy the SRSG. And I know that whatever I report, the report will be rewritten by what we call the front desk of the SRSG.

So he's got his own staff who have never been out of that office, his staff don't know the situation on the ground, his staff never met any Ashrafis and yet their words in those reports prevail over my reports coming from the ground. So whatever I report it never reaches New York, it never reaches Washington. And what I'm saying applies to my counterparts within the American Embassy, because we visit the camp together, we report objectively what we saw and what we heard, yet New York and Washington never receive the reports that reflect the realities on the ground. Simply because at the level of the UN, the SRSG's office will reshape the whole thing and put it the way it should be done, because we are there to report and to keep everybody happy. When the al-Maliki is happy, the Secretary General of the UN is happy. This is a reality and Kobler has been congratulated during the Arab League Summit in Baghdad and he (UN Secretary General) said to us that he is my best SRSG, because, to the word, because he is keeping al-Maliki happy.

So now the UN has become an instrument in the hands of the Iraqi government to fulfill their policies the way they see them and the way they conceive them. We are there as an instrument. And this is an instrument that is not sort of hidden. The Security Council Resolution 1770 (2007) said clearly that UNAMI is there to assist the government of Iraq upon its request. So it's only when al-Maliki says I need your help on that issue that we intervene. And this is why in Ashraf we have to do exactly what al-Maliki needs to do. And if al-Maliki is not happy, the SRSG will go. And this is happened to Melkert. Ad Melkert's contract was not renewed because he stood for himself by the elections.

Al-Maliki wanted to recount the elections and he was not happy that Ayad Allawi had more seats than him. Ayad Allawi had 91 and he had 89 and so he wanted to recount them. SRSG Melkert said no the electoral commission said it's fair and just and we are not going to recount. That was the end of the SRSG. Al-Maliki told Ban Ki-Moon he doesn't want to see him in the mission again and that was the end. Now, of course Kobler with his ambitions, he will do exactly what al-Maliki wants. If he does otherwise, he has his predecessor's experience in front of him as a guide. Just to probably conclude I would say that we contributed into perpetuating the stigma against the Ashrafis. The other thing is one of the fundamental issues that UNAMI has perpetrated and violated is the presumption of innocence. My office is the office that is there to defend the fundamental human rights of everybody, and everybody is presumed innocent till condemned by a court of law and went through all the necessary procedures, the due process of law.

In the case of Ashraf we have reversed this fundamental principle and I could tell you any report, any employee of the UN in Iraq presumes that Ashrafis are terrorists and they are left to prove their innocence. So if that is done by a government we would say that is probably the practice of that government. But for the UN to reverse the rule and make the presumption of guilt as the fundamental rule, that is unacceptable and we did report everywhere saying that this has to stop.

The presumption of guilt has to stop. And after all, when the Ashrafis were delisted from the list, whether in Europe or in America, they were delisted by courts of law. It was not a political decision; it was a judicial one, which means the presumption of guilt has been removed by a court of law. And this is where the Ashrafis have been victorious because where ever their issues are put to court, they were the winners.

I thank you very much.

Shahriar Kia is a political analyst and spokesman for the residents of Camp Ashraf, Iraq, where he resides. Shahriar was educated in the United States, graduating from the University of Texas, in computer science. Contact him through NewsBlaze. Read more stories by Shahriar Kia.

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