At a time when large swathes of Iraq are controlled by the self-proclaimed Islamic State and the central government is undergoing extensive reform, more than two dozen human rights organizations and personalities have issued a joint letter to United Nations Security Council Ban Ki-moon. They expressed their concerns over the plight of Iranian dissidents besieged in a camp adjacent to Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.
Emphasizing their support for the residents of Camp Liberty, members of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MeK), the joint letter refers to the numerous rocket barrages staged against this camp and the necessity for independent probes into these crimes. The Iraqi government is called to recognize Liberty as a refugee camp to prevent any further such attacks and to lift the cruel siege imposed on these refugees.
The camp management team, whose role in the massacres carried out against the residents has become undeniable, is under the supervision of Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih Fayyad, known for his illicit relations with Tehran.
The letters, signed by the Every One Group, International Society for Human Rights-Australia and the International Human Rights Organization to name a few, calls for the members of this committee to be completely shuffled and urges the UNHCR to place its weight behind the campaign of recognizing Liberty as a refugee camp under the UN flag. The blockade on Liberty lifted, the residents’ freedom of movement respected and full access provided to medical services and legal representation are further demands raised by the 25 human rights organizations and dignitaries.
Holding the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force responsible for all attacks staged against these Iranian refugees, the letter explains how “to this day 141 residents in total have been killed and 27 others have become victims of the medical siege imposed on the camp.”
Iran is known for being the “record holder of the highest number of executions per capita” and its dismal report card of being “condemned 62 times by various UN organs for its flagrant human rights violations.” This makes it even more vital to provide the protection Camp Liberty residents desperately need and were promised.
The letter cites an adequate precedent provided in a U.S. budget bill adopted and signed by the US President. It reads in part over the protection of Liberty residents: “the United States should take prompt and appropriate steps in accordance with international agreements to promote the physical security and protection of Camp Liberty residents” and “urge the Government of Iraq to uphold its commitments to the United States to ensure the safety and well-being of those living in Camp Liberty.”
Considered an illegal ‘detention center’ based on two opinions issued by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Camp Liberty was also the subject of a recent European Parliament statement issued by 120 NGOs and 170 MEPs. With this very high-note reference, the joint letter calls for major changes in the fabric of Camp Liberty management team supervising the residents’ lives.
The UNHCR must recognize Liberty as a refugee camp to block future massacres against the camp; the siege imposed on Liberty must be completely revoked and the residents to enjoy their rights of freedom of movement and free access to medical services and legal representation; the residents’ ownership rights should be recognized by Baghdad to permit them to provide for their heavy resettlement expenses through selling their property in Iraq; and the UN to finally assign an independent probe into all the crimes committed against the residents through the past 7 years, rendering justice imposed against officials responsible for these horrific atrocities.