MPs: State Department demand for Iranian dissidents to evacuate Ashraf without their minimum humanitarian needs is unjust
More than 100 cross-Party Parliamentarians on Saturday rejected the call by the U.S. State Department on members of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK) to vacate Camp Ashraf, their home for the past 26 years, without meeting their humanitarian needs. The MPs and Peers described the demand by the State Department as unjust.
They pointed out that Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Iraqi government and the United Nations, and the support of Secretary Clinton for the MoU on 25 December 2011, was the basis for the relocation of Ashraf residents. The residents and leadership of Ashraf have shown their commitments to the MoU.
More than 2,000 residents of Ashraf have moved to Camp Liberty in five convoys, trusting UN and US promises that their basic humanitarian rights would not be violated.
However the conditions in Camp Liberty and Iraq’s continuous violation of the articles of the MoU leave no room to extend that trust. The real obstacle is the persistent violations of the MoU and other agreements by the Government of Iraq and turning Camp Liberty into a prison.
The MPs and Peers underscored that it was tragic that the State Department had been silent in the face of the behaviour of the Government of Iraq while it urged the residents to forsake their basic humanitarian requirements and go to Liberty which has been turned into a prison by the Government of Iraq.
We find the demands of the Ashraf residents for the following 10 basic humanitarian needs completely fair and reasonable.
None of the following demands are luxurious or non-essential:
1. Transfer of 300 air conditioners from Ashraf to Liberty.
2. Transfer of all the power generators that are currently in Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty. If there is any dispute about the ownership of the generators, they can be resolved in the future, under supervision of the UN.
3. Transfer of 25 trucks, containing the belongings left over from the fourth and fifth convoys, and six utility vehicles about which there had already been an agreement.
4. Transfer of five forklifts from Ashraf to Liberty for the purpose of moving the residents’ belongings.
5. Transfer of three specially-designed vehicles and six specially-designed trailers for the disabled.
6. Transfer of 50 passenger cars from Ashraf to Liberty. It means one car for every 40 residents, which is absolutely necessary in the hot weather and for wounded and disabled residents.
7. Permission for construction, including the building of pavements, porches, canopies, ramps, special facilities for the disabled and green areas.
8. Connecting Liberty to Baghdad’s water network. Alternatively, the residents should be permitted to hire Iraqi contractors to pump the water into Liberty from a nearby water canal and bring their own water purification system from Ashraf.
9. Allowing merchants or bidders access to Ashraf to negotiate and buy the movable properties as soon as possible and to make advanced payment and start making partial payments to the residents before the resumption of the relocation of the next convoy.
10. Start of negotiations between the residents and their financial representatives and the Iraqi Government to sell the immovable assets and properties, or negotiations with third parties (Iraqi Government should provide permission) to sign the necessary agreements.
Partial payments should be made before the relocation. At least 200 residents would remain at Ashraf to maintain and upkeep the properties until they are sold in their entirety. We find it abhorrent that the US State Department recently has been involved in setting deadlines for the remaining residents of Ashraf and repeating Iraq’s threat of another attack and massacre at Ashraf. It is not clear to us as to why parallel to the Iranian regime, State Department officials are pushing for the implementation of the ridiculous 20 July deadline, to evict 1,200 defenceless individuals, while none of the 10 items outlined above has been implemented. As soon as they are, all residents will relocate to Liberty.
It is time for the State Department to put aside this attitude. Instead of setting deadlines for the Iranian dissidents, it should announce a deadline for the Iraqi government to respect the terms of its agreements and correct all breaches of the MoU. Accepting Iraq’s deadlines for relocating the residents is equivalent to accepting the threat of another massacre and blaming the victims. This is not expected from the State Department.
The residents of Ashraf have repeatedly declared that they would move to Camp Liberty as soon as the above mentioned 10 humanitarian requirements are realised. So far, none has been fulfilled. The State Department should make sure these minimum demands are met by the Government of Iraq, and the transfer to Liberty could be facilitated immediately.
The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom 7 July 2012