On 24 November, the Associated Press (AP) published an article entitled “Timeline: The Iran deal,” about the events, going back to January 2009, leading to the “historic agreement,” just made public, between the World Powers and Iran over their nuclear development programme and the conditions for sanctions reduction.
This began as a comment to that article, but turned into an article in its own right. I include a link to the AP article, so the two can be read in conjunction.
Obama On Wrong Side Of History
It starts with a quote from President Obama’s first inaugural address, equally appropriate here: “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
The 24 November agreement in Geneva may well have been in response to the “unclenched fist” and smiling face of the new “moderate” Prime Minister, Rouhani, but this article demonstrates that there is no let up in the “silencing of dissent.” So which side of history do you stand on President Obama?
Let’s leave aside the 200+ executions in Iran since Rouhani became Prime Minister, reported on 6 November by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), and focus on the parallel timeline of events impacting the people of Ashraf in Iraq.
Around 3,400 Iranian dissidents, 1,000 of them women, seeking secular democratic freedoms for Iran since 1965 and steadfastly opposed to the Islamic fundamentalist regime currently in control of their homeland, have been living in Ashraf since 1986, a bastion of hope and inspiration for Iranians in Iran and around the world. 1
For their steadfast courage and dissent, the Mullahs in Iran have made it their mission to exterminate them at home and to destroy their influence abroad, demonizing them with an avalanche of misinformation and placing them firmly on the table of every negotiation with the West since the 1980s.
Remember, Ashraf is in Iraq, where thousands of US, British and other forces died and tens of thousands returned home with permanent injury as a result of the 2003 Iraqi Freedom War, a war intended to dislodge a dictator and bring democracy to Iraq.
What has been achieved is democracy in name only, as Nouri Al-Malki, the Prime Minister, was selected by the coalition forces in 2006, replacing the Iraqi people’s elected choice, shortly before sovereignty was granted to Iraq. This at a time when former US military officers serving in Iraq state that terrorist activity by the Iranian regime was escalating out of control.
Despite promises to devolve power to the more moderate elements of elected parliamentarians, Al-Maliki still runs everything out of the Prime Ministers office, as a de facto dictator, and has opened the door of Iraq wide to the dangerous influence of the Iranian regime.
Reliant on their influence to keep him in power, Al-Maliki acts as their proxy, especially in his actions against the people of Ashraf.
US And UN Obligations To Ashraf Protected Persons
Throughout the events set out in this timeline, the Western Powers have used the excuse of Iraqi sovereignty as their reason for inaction and prevarication, whereas, in reality, they have clear obligations to the dissidents, based on their status as Protected Persons and asylum seekers, the terms of various specific and binding agreements for their safety and well-being signed by the US and the UN, as well as the terms of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm, proposed by the United Nations in 2005 with just this kind of Crimes against Humanity in mind.
The Ashraf Timeline
January 2009: As part of the withdrawal strategy agreement, responsibility for safeguarding the people of Ashraf, Protected Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention since 2004, is transferred from the coalition forces to the Iraqi government. Al-Maliki transforms protection into confinement and places Ashraf under siege, restricting access to visitors, food, fuel and medical supplies.
July 2009: Iraqi government forces attack the residents, unarmed since they handed over their weapons in return for US guarantees of protection, killing 11, injuring hundreds, abducting 36.. Worldwide hunger strikes result for 72 days until
October 2009: when the 36 hostages are returned to Ashraf. The Western Powers, (the US, UK, EU and UN), call on the Iraqi government to carry out an investigation, with no result. The siege conditions increase with the addition of loudspeakers, eventually around a staggering 300 of them, blaring insults and death threats 24/7 into Ashraf.
Throughout 2010: there are many assaults on the Ashraf residents, causing injury but no deaths.
April 2011: Iraqi government forces, 2,500 of them, again attack Ashraf. Hundreds are injured and 36 killed. The Western Powers ask the Government of Iraq to investigate – with no result. The Iranian regime berates Al-Maliki for not going further with the elimination of Ashraf..
Al-Maliki issues an ultimatum that Ashraf must be closed by the end of the year, the same time that all the remaining US forces are to leave Iraq.
September 2011: UNHCR officially recognises the Ashrafis as asylum seekers, with consequent rights for their safety and well-being. Al-Maliki blocks the UNHCR from conducting interviews in Ashraf, while remaining adamant about year end closure.
December 2011: Martin Kobler, special representative for the UN secretary-general signs a Christmas Day Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Iraq agreeing terms for re-locating the Ashrafis to a disused army base, Camp Liberty, near Baghdad Airport. He publishes false information about the conditions at the Camp and the US guarantees their safety, thereby duping Western supporters of the Ashrafis into persuading them to agree to the move.
2012: Despite the “concentration camp” reality of Camp Liberty the Ashrafis maintain their side of the bargain, completing the move by September 2012. Many of their personal belongings, generators, protective vests and helmets, etc. are refused passage, in breach of agreement.
February 2013: A rocket attack on Camp Liberty kills 8 and injures dozens. The Western Powers ask the Iraqi government to investigate and safeguard the remaining residents.
April 2013: Another rocket attack on Camp Liberty falls short of target. The Government of Iraq says it can no longer guarantee the safety of the residents, but still the Western Powers ask Al-Maliki to investigate and safeguard the residents.
June 2013: A third rocket attack on the 15 June, the day the Iranian election result is declared, kills 2. Many of the rockets hit the main dining area which 20 minutes earlier would have been full of diners. Um, oh yes, the Iraqi government is asked to investigate and safeguard.the remaining residents.
1 September 2013: A dawn attack by Iraqi special forces on the 100 people remaining in Ashraf by agreement with the US, UN and Iraqi government, to dispose of their assets, leaves 52 men and women dead, many killed execution style, bullet through the head, hands tied behind their backs. Six women and a man were abducted and are still, 25 November, being held, it is now known in Iraqi prisons in Baghdad.
Hunger strikes begin in Camp Liberty and across the world to press for the hostages release. Video footage, much taken by photographers who can be seen giving their lives to film the events, is ignored and the Western Powers say “they see no evidence” of Iraqi forces involvement.
30 October 2013 : A report is published, with input from the 42 survivors of the attack, former US military officers who served in Iraq and the former UN Chief of Human Rights in Iraq from 2009 until his resignation as a matter of conscience in 2012. They all say that nothing could get in or out of Ashraf without the knowledge and approval of the Iraqi government.
19 November 2013: Amnesty International issue an “Urgent Action” stating that “according to reliable sources” “the seven Iranian exiles abducted on 1 September are now known to be held by the Iraqi security forces at an unofficial detention facility in central Baghdad.”
20 November 2013: Following the rainfall in Iraq in the past 48 hours, water has now covered the whole of Camp Liberty due to the damaged infrastructure of the camp and the absence of resources. The potential consequences for the health and safety of the residents are unthinkable.
21 November 2013: In a House of Lords debate on human rights, despite all the evidence stacked against the Iraqi government, Baroness Warsi, Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson in the House of Lords, responds to questions about Ashraf and the hostages as follows:
“We remain of the view that the Government of Iraq, as a sovereign Government, are responsible for the situation at the camp. We have called on the Government to take all necessary measures to locate missing residents and ensure the safety of the remaining residents at Camp Liberty.”
24 November 2013: “Historic agreement” between the Western Powers and Iran re nuclear capability development measures and reduction of sanctions made public.
6 December 2013: Day 96 of the hunger strike. Many are in critical condition.
Obama, Kerry, Ban, Hague, Cameron On Wrong Side
So President Obama, John Kerry, Ban Ki-Moon, William Hague, David Cameron, which side of history are you really on? How will history judge you? I would suggest, to retain historic credibility, that you secure the release of the 7 Iranian dissident hostages held in Iraq and provide for the genuine safety and well-being of the remaining 3,000+ currently enduring in the unspeakable conditions of Camp Liberty before shaking that “unclenched fist” with all the muscle of the Iranian regime behind it.