Is Relocation of Ashraf Residents a Precondition for Delisting PMOI?

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Mrs. Rajavi underscores the need for minimum assurances for the relocation of Camp Ashraf residents to Liberty; welcomes Secretary Clinton’s remarks on their safety and security and on the key role of relocation to Liberty in delisting; urges simultaneous delisting and relocation to resolve all problems expeditiously

Following the remarks on Wednesday, 29, February 2012, by the United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, at a hearing before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, regarding the key role relocating Ashraf residents to Camp Liberty will play in revoking the terrorist designation of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, welcomed Secretary Clinton’s emphasis on the safety and security of the residents of Ashraf. To this end, she called for lifting the terrorist designation, which was from the outset created in a bid to appease the religious fascism ruling Iran.

While reminding that making the delisting contingent on relocation is unwarranted in principle and in law, Mrs. Rajavi called for delisting simultaneous with relocation in order to expedite the resolution of all the problems. She added that the revocation of the designation would greatly facilitate obtaining the minimum assurances necessary for the relocation of the residents of Ashraf to Liberty.

On 27, February 2012, the PMOI [MEK] filed a Writ of Mandamus with the U.S. Court of Appeals-DC Circuit, challenging the unlawful continuation of its designation and the State Department’s failure to implement the Court of Appeals ruling 20 months after it was issued. On 29th February, 21 senior former U.S. political, national security, military, judicial, and intelligence officials filed an amicus brief with the Court of Appeals in support of the Writ of Mandamus to delist the MEK.

Distinguished U.S. jurists and personalities have demanded the immediate delisting of the PMOI, underlining that making it contingent on conditions favored by the Iranian and Iraqi regimes would be unlawful and would encourage the massacre of Iranian opposition members in Iraq.

Earlier, 98 bi-partisan members of the U.S. House of Representatives cosponsored H.Res. 60, which states, “Whereas the Government of Iran has used the FTO designation of the MEK [PMOI] as a pretext to execute its members in Iran; Whereas the FTO designation of the MEK has been used by Iranian surrogates in Iraq as well as the Nuri al-Maliki Government in Iraq to attack the MEK members in Camp Ashraf or impose inhumane restrictions on them, which has led to loss of life; [… the House of Representatives] urges the Secretary of State to remove the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) from the Department of State’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations; and urges the Secretary of State to lift all restrictions imposed on the MEK, its members, and its affiliates, which has emanated from its designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.”

The residents of Ashraf have demonstrated maximum flexibility by relinquishing their 26-year legitimate right to residency in Iraq and Ashraf. The residents have repeatedly declared that they would relocate to Liberty once the minimum assurances, especially the removal of armed Iraqi guards from inside the new camp and the dismantling of surveillance cameras, were provided. On 17, February some 400 Ashraf residents went to Liberty as a goodwill gesture. However, they faced atrocious conditions at the camp. Distinguished U.S. dignitaries have aptly described Liberty as being akin to a “concentration camp.”

In a 28, February 2012 letter to Secretary Clinton, Mrs. Rajavi wrote, “I was very keen to see Camp Liberty meet the minimum assurances so that all Ashraf residents could have transferred there. I am also certain that you do not want a forcible relocation or that people be moved to a detention center rather than a refugee camp. The UNHCR has formally recognized Ashraf residents as ‘asylum-seekers under international law who are persons of direct concern.’ The High Commissioner has also stressed the importance the UNHCR places in finding a peaceful solution…. [and] emphasized that any relocation from Ashraf must be ‘on a voluntary basis’ and there must be ‘freedom of movement’ in the new location (Camp Liberty).”

Mrs. Rajavi once again requested that Secretary Clinton use her good offices to support the provision of minimum assurances in Camp Liberty, consistent with humanitarian and human rights standards, in Camp Liberty in order to facilitate the successful and peaceful relocation of the remaining Ashraf residents.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran

Shahriar Kia is a member of the Iranian opposition (PMOI /MEK). He is a human rights activist and political analyst on Iran and the Middle East.