Eviction and Forcible Relocation of Ashraf Residents

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Eviction and forcible relocation of Ashraf residents with coercion and intimidation of transfer of other residents to Camp Liberty without observing minimum humanitarian needs of the residents and by torturing those handicapped and injured, Mrs. Rajavi calls on President Obama and Secretary General BanKi- Moon to prevent a humanitarian tragedy against Ashraf residents, in particular 1,000 female residents, and to prevent Iraq from forcible relocation of Ashraf residents, “protected persons” under Geneva Convention whom the US government has officially taken responsibility for their protection and the UNHCR has recognised them as asylum-seeker and “people of concern”

Only 48 hours after the transfer of the fourth group of Ashraf residents under much pressures and intolerable restrictions and while their minimum belongings are yet planned to be transferred to Liberty today, the Government of Iraq (GoI) intends to transfer the fifth group of residents through coercion, and intimidation on Wednesday, April 18. This is in violation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was signed between the GoI and the UN on December 25, 2011, and is by no means a voluntary relocation contrary to the UN Secretary General’s emphasis to this effect, including in his report to the Security Council on March 29, 2011 and the repeated remarks by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) in the Security Council meeting on April 10, 2012.

The residents are left with an option to be killed or to leave their home and the city they have built with their own energy and resources for quarter of a century to go to a prison called Liberty without humanitarian minimums; this is but an eviction and forcible evacuation in grave violation of provisions of the International Humanitarian Law, international human rights law, Fourth Geneva Convention, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and many other international treaties and is considered as crime against humanity.

Although none of the first, second and third groups of residents have been transferred under decent conditions observing their humanitarian and human rights minimums, the fourth group’s transfer involving harassment of the residents was in all aspects even more unacceptable.

In an inhumane act, Iraqi forces refused to allow transfer of the vehicles and trailers specifically made to meet the needs of those handicapped and injured with special sanitary facilities which suit them and they have lived with for years. Repeated requests by representatives of the residents from Iraqi forces as well as the UN and US officials reached nowhere and therefore, 10 people in the fourth group who were severely disabled and injured had no choice but to stay in Ashraf.

They were amongst those who had been listed and their names had been given to the UN and US officials since two years ago for a rapid transfer to third countries and if it had not been obstructed by the GoI many of them would have been transferred by now. Like other residents, the GoI has made their refugee status determination contingent upon their relocation to Liberty and at the same time does not allow the transfer of their necessary equipment to Liberty. This is a kind of physical and psychological torture against all legal, international, moral and religious principles.

People in the fourth group were not allowed to transfer major part of their belongings. They were not even allowed to take 10 passenger cars contrary to previous agreements (The SRSG’s letter of 15

February). Following several talks, it was confirmed by the UN and Iraqi officials that the fourth group could take six generators to Liberty. However, in practice, they were allowed to transfer only two generators.

The GoI complies with none of its commitments and repeatedly breaches even provisions of the MoU it signed with the UN without informing the residents and obtaining their agreement. The very MoU which lacks major parts of the minimum requirements of the residents.

The GoI is preventing transfer of the belongings at a time when it also obstructs their sale and does not allow the businessmen who wish to buy them to enter Ashraf; UNAMI’s efforts in this regard have remained futile.

Ashraf residents are under pressure to move to Liberty while the camp is facing serious problems regarding water, electricity, sewage and other humanitarian minimums. Not only the GoI is not solving these problems but also it refuses to respond to repeated requests by the residents for solving them at their own costs. Residents have not even been allowed to build asphalt or cement pathways for patients and elderly in a camp that has a muddy ground all over the place. They have also been denied the right to spray the camp with insecticides as snakes, harmful insects and bugs are coming out in hot season. The GoI has been delaying for 40 days the permit for entry of necessary materials used for spraying insecticide. Similarly, GoI has not implemented the items of the SRSG’s letter of 16 March with regard to stationing police and thus has installed new police posts in the camp.

While expressing her strongest protest to imposing pressure on residents of Ashraf and Liberty as well as to the lack of humanitarian and human rights standards at Liberty, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance calls on President Obama and Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations to prevent a human tragedy to take place on the residents, particularly the 1,000 female residents, restrain the GoI from taking suppressive measures against those who are totally “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention, the US government has officially taken responsibility for their protection and given them “protected person” cards and the UNHCR has in several statements of February 1, March 1 and March 28, 2012 described them as asylum-seekers under international protection and “people of concern”. President Obama is called to prevent the GoI from forcibly relocating them until humanitarian minimums are agreed on and implemented by the GoI. There is no doubt that the US government will be held responsible for any harms afflicted on the residents in Ashraf and Liberty and its disavowal will not be accepted before any political or judicial authority.

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.