US Provides Assurance to Protect Residents of Camp Ashraf

On October 26, Secretary Hillary Clinton had an interview with Voice of America, the transcript of which is posted on the State Department’s official website. When asked about the FTO listing of MEK she answered:

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the assessment is still going on. I’m sure he knows that the European Union came back with a very thorough assessment and concluded there was no recent evidence. And under the laws of placing groups or individuals on terrorist lists, there has to be a continuing assessment; is there current evidence? And the European Union concluded that there was not, so they removed MEK from the list. We’re still assessing the evidence here in the United States. (U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE- Office of the Spokesperson -October 26, 2011)

34 residents of camp ashraf killed
34 Residents of Camp Ashraf Killed April 8 by Iraqi Forces

I can assure you that I am personally very focused on trying to make sure that we protect the safety of the residents of the camp. I and our department and our Administration strongly condemned the violence that led to the deaths, regardless of how it happened the fact is you’re right, 36 residents died because of the violence on April the 8th. We are monitoring the situation as closely as we can. We see no evidence suggesting that there is any other attack, imminent attack on Ashraf.

She added that: Now, we know that they have approached – that we have also pushed the UNHCR to have even more of a presence to do more to try to move as many of the status determinations as they can. So this is an area of deep concern to us and we are moving on many fronts and we’re also going to move as expeditiously as possible to a final resolution on the designation.

Congressman Ted Poe said: I would just to want to re-urge you and the administration to make sure that when December 31st comes, bad things don’t happen to those good folks in Camp Ashraf. And all the politics, we need to set it aside, fulfill our obligation since they put their weapons down as the MEK, that they get refugee and asylum status somewhere in the world. But their safety is paramount. So I would just re-urge that Madame Secretary.

I should also remind you that despite international concerns and despite assurances provided by different American officials, in the past and on behalf of Iraqi officials, regarding concerns about the safety and security of camp Ashraf residents, the Iraqi government continues its repressive measures and its aggressions and insists on its decision to carry out another bloodbath in camp Ashraf. In addition, UNHCR is now working to somehow convince the government of Iraq to postpone its deadline for closure of camp Ashraf which will provide it with the required time to begin processing the immigration status of camp residents and achieve a long-standing solution; depriving the Iraqi government from the excuse that the residents have no legal status. The Iraqi government, however, seeking to fulfill the Iranian regime’s wishes for destruction of camp Ashraf residents, is impeding UNHCR efforts. Notice what Adnan al-Asadi, the Iraqi Interior Minister, had to say in an interview with the al-Sabah daily yesterday October 27 which is a clear example:

ASSABAH daily (semi-official), Iraq – The first deputy of the Ministry of Interior regarding the closure of Camp Ashraf said: The central government has decided to close the camp by the end of this year and to scatter the residents to other camps in various provinces. He stated that this way we would have control over this organization and the organization’s military central commands being imposed on the residents will be eliminated. In addition, this measure would simplify their return to their own country or any other country.

Adnan al-Assadi described the Ashraf Residents as militias who oppose a neighboring country which is against the international laws. They are alsoliable to no credible law.

Al-Assadi added that the people in charge of controlling Ashraf rely on arms, instruments, resources and considerable financial and political supports. They are also very influential in the international community. He asserted that close to 300 residents are willing to go back to Iran but their commanders’ menaces are holding them up.

What I want to stress here is that prior to the April 8 brutal attack against camp Ashraf, which resulted in the death of 36 residents including 8 women, various US officials reassured camp Ashraf residents that they will not be exposed to any violence and U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad had received written assurances, but despite this all, defenseless residents of camp Ashraf were attacked and slaughtered and such assurances did not prevent violence and massacre from occurring.

As such, I want to warn that the lives of camp Ashraf residents are indeed in danger. Our single most important objective is to protect the lives of camp Ashraf residents from another planned attack against the camp.

I would like to conclude that residents of Ashraf have always exhibited willingness to cooperate fully with U.S. government officials, the UN, UNHCR, and the European parliament to reach a sensible and long-standing solution. The last solution we’ve proposed, which as the residents have requested must include UNHCR, is the resettlement of each and every one of the residents – no exceptions included – to a third country. International concerns and calls by the international community for termination of the ridiculous deadline set by Maliki, clearly exhibits an international desire to prevent an atrocity from occurring in camp Ashraf in near future. Therefore, the Iraqi governments insistence on continuing its repressive behavior and its threats to close the camp by year’s end, as well as the nonstop psychological torture of residents with 300 loudspeakers 24 hours per day, is unacceptable and is clear indication of a sinister desire and plot by the ruthless mullahs in Tehran to annihilate their main opposition group byway of their proxies in Iraq. This is a crime against humanity.

PMOI – Camp Ashraf

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.