Iraq Steals Camp Ashraf Residents’ Property

UN must stop GOI stealing MEK property in Ashraf

Following the forcible eviction of 3200 residents from camp Ashraf in Iraq – the 25-year residence of the opposition MEK members – to a prison called Liberty, at the behest of Iranian Mullahs the residents are now faced with another disgraceful plot by Government of Iraq aimed at plundering the Iranian refugees’ property in Iraq, valued at over $550 million.

Based on prior agreements with UNAMI, following the transfer of 3200 MEK members only 100 residents remain in Ashraf until the final determination and the selling of the moveable and immovable properties. However, the Iraqi government has through various methods blocked the selling of the property, setting the stage to plunder and confiscate them.

The Iraqi government, by bringing a merchant affiliated to Iraq’s Prime Ministry Office and causing delays in the process of selling the property during the past ten months, has averted the entrance of other Iraqi merchants to Ashraf. This was a pre-planned plot to loot the residents’ assets, claiming the PMOI’s property actually belong to Iraq!!!.

The Iraqi government is seeking to deprive the residents’ sovereign ownership rights over their property while the residents’ right to ownership over their property are fully recognized by Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 46 and 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Articles 52 and 53 of The Hague Conventions, Articles 9 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 23 of the Iraq Constitution and Iraq Civic Code.

In an assessment following the obligatory transfer of 3200 people from Ashraf to Liberty, to provide the expenses of everyday life and send residents to third countries, which are all completely on the shoulders of the residents themselves, they must sell all their moveable and immovable assets.

Of course Iraqi government’s measures to plunder MEK property does not come as a surprise to anyone, what is surprising is the silence of Mr. Martin Kobler, Special Representative to UN Secretary-General for Iraq, regarding this blatant violation of Ashraf residents’ ownership right that just a while back in his letter of 28 December 2011 Mr. Kobler had officially stressed upon.

On 8 November 2012, the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom on behalf of majority of the members of the British House of Commons declared: “It is unfortunate that Martin Kobler, the man charged by the UN to resolve the Camp Ashraf crisis has remained deafeningly silent over the issue. Martin Kobler and the UN must publicly declare that the rights of the residents of Camp Ashraf to sell their property must be respected by the Government of Iraq and act immediately to ensure that this occurs”.

Mr. Tahar Boumedra, UNAMI’s lead man in charge of the Ashraf case from 2008 to 2011 said in a hearing at the US Congress on 13 September 2012 on the relocation plan of the residents to Liberty: “UNAMI has no independence whatsoever. Every issue regarding Ashraf is decided at the Prime Minister’s Office and sometimes at the Iranian embassy in Baghdad,”

The UN report published on Wednesday in the media emphasizes: The UN took inadequate steps to protect civilians during the bloody final months of the civil war, calling it a “grave failure.”

Continuing such a biased silence policy by UN representatives against the residents’ ownership is without a doubt a dangerous detour from principles, international laws and UN’s humanitarian goals, bringing about further “grave failures” and consequences.

Threatening the lives of merchants who seek to purchase or sign deals with the MEK began a few years ago by Iraqi security forces. It is noteworthy that during the years of 2005 to 2009, 56 Iraqi employees and logistics personnel who worked for Ashraf residents were murdered in numerous terrorist attacks in Iraq. The full report covering these assassinations and threats has been presented to Mr. Martin Kobler and UNAMI officials.

It is evident that the Iraqi government doesn’t have a sincere intention to allow Ashraf residents’ to sell their property in a peaceful and legal manner. They publicly claim these assets belong to the Iraqi government.

According to information obtained by the Iranian Resistance from inside Iran, Ghasem Soleimani commander of terrorist Quds Force has directed the government of Iraq to file bogus complaints against Ashraf residents and make fabricated judicial cases including issuing arrest warrants and confiscate all their movable and immovable properties.. This is while the residents have time and again provided to the UN and Iraqi government documents proving the purchase of their assets. The Iraqi Ministry of Transportation recently examined 1,200 vehicles belonging to Ashraf residents, concluding no claim existed on even one of the vehicles.

Now that the PMOI delisting in the US has annulled, all the Iraqi government’s pretexts to carry out the demands of Tehran’s mullahs against Ashraf residents, measures aimed at making a prison out of Liberty and stealing the residents’ property in Ashraf must be stopped. It is necessary for UNAMI to issue an official statement recognizing Ashraf residents’ ownership rights over their property.

Shahriar Kia

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.