Martin Kobler Accused of Covering Up Forcible Eviction of Ashraf Residents

Regarding Martin Kobler’s brazen remarks against Ashraf and Liberty residents before leaving Iraq

Even in his last days in Iraq, Martin Kobler in an interview with NINA, Iraq’s National News Agency (June 25, 2013), continued his hostile campaign against Ashraf residents to justify their massacre and three consecutive missile attacks against them during the past five months.

In his totally false remarks, he also tried to cover up the forcible eviction of Ashraf residents and turning Camp Liberty into a prison and as usual, he misrepresented the victim and the deaths.

He said, “During the past two years we reached a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in September 2011; this MoU included the voluntarily relocation of Camp Ashraf residents to camp Liberty.”

Although the UN Secretary General had reiterated in his reports to UN Security Council in July and November 2011 that any solution should be acceptable to all concerned, Kobler unilaterally and without the knowledge and consent of the residents, who were the main party involved in this issue, signed the MoU with the Iraqi government. Then, by supporting GoI’s threats and deadlines, he put the Ashraf residents under pressure to leave Camp Ashraf forcibly, and against their will.

In a flagrant distortion of the truth, Kobler says, “We are in contact with the GoI and we are committed to provide more security to the residents of this camp.”

But Kobler keeps silent about the fact that after three missile attacks that hit the camp with at least eighty 107 mm missiles, leaving 10 killed and more than 170 injured, the Iraqi government has not yet allowed any of the primary security requirements to be fulfilled.

These minimum requirements that have been presented to UN, US and Iraqi officials in writing and orally include the return of the T-walls for protection of the containers, transfer of safety helmets, protective vests and medical equipment from Ashraf to Liberty, expanding the area of the camp and allowing construction in the camp.

This is at the time that on 11 June, and once again on 25 June the Iraqi government officially informed the residents that it opposes all the minimum security requirements. Opposing the minimum security requirements indicates that the government has no intention to resolve the problem of protection of Liberty residents, rather it wants the residents to suffer loss as much as possible in the next attacks.

In his statements, Kobler falsely claims: “one of the problems is that most of the residents of camp Liberty are not willing to be resettled and we will not force anyone to do so, 210 of the Liberty residents can go to Albania today, but there are those who want to stay in this camp and return to Ashraf.”

Kobler impudently lies, in order to cover up the failure of the TTL project and the transfer of the residents to other countries and to put the blame on the residents. The truth is that so far the residents have provided the UNHCR with the names of 500 people to be transferred to Albania and Germany and they are committed to provide all the expenses for them, however, only 71 people have been transferred to Albania. This is about 2.5% of the 2000 residents who have been interviewed by UNHCR during the past one and a half year and it is less than 2% of the total number of the residents.

This result, 16 months after settling in the TTL is a disastrous failure for the resettlement which Kobler wants to cover up by putting the blame on the residents. On April 17 and 18, Secretary John Kerry told the U.S. Congress that for resettlement of the Liberty residents “We have contacted countless countries; we have been refused by countless countries.” Blaming the residents that they do not want to leave Iraq, only gives an excuse to the mullahs’ regime and its proxies in Iraqi government to massacre the residents.

To do so, Kobler even claims, that Liberty residents “don’t want to travel even to the close countries that we have offered them, they want to stay here and they want to go to Camp Ashraf.”

This is also a distortion of reality. First of all, there has been no offer to the residents for a trip to near countries by Kobler so far; because the redline the Iranian regime has dictated to Kobler and he is strongly obligated to is that the PMOI should not appear in any nearby countries in the region. But Kobler is resorting to a blatant lie to distort the Camp Liberty residents’ demand to return to Ashraf just for their security.

After the first missile attack on Camp Liberty and considering that Kobler had stated he cannot guarantee the security of the residents in Liberty, and the GoI had also clearly announced that it does not provide any security assurances, the residents’ representative wrote to Kobler’s deputy on 22 February 2013, “any solution that does not guarantee safety and security of all residents based on UNAMI and U.S. commitments would only expedite the next massacre. If it is not possible to immediately relocate all the residents to outside Iraq, the only feasible solution is for all of them to immediately return to Ashraf, and thereafter they can continue the interviewing process as before.”

For their minimum security to be provided, Liberty residents want to return to Ashraf from where their resettlement in other countries would be pursued; as they wrote in their joint letter to the U.S. Secretary of State on 26 April 2013, “The only option to provide security for the residents is our collective departure from Iraq and our temporary settlement in the U.S. until we are resettled in other countries; if this option is not feasible, the only option left is our return to Ashraf.”

Kobler says: “the international community pays 16 million dollars for Camp Liberty.” This is while Camp Liberty’s expenses during past year just for fuel, water, and other expenses relating camp’s infrastructures and services amounted to more than 10 million dollars, all paid by the residents. Whereas contrary to all UN rules, the residents are not allowed to have income generating activities or to sell their property in order to cover their extremely high expenses.

The reality is that according to international media reports, only at the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012, Kobler visited Iran’s ambassador to Iraq five times. Hassan Danaifar, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, is a well-known Quds force commander. They discussed the issue of Ashraf.

After these meetings, Kobler forcibly evicted Ashraf residents from their home for the past 26 years, and moved them to Liberty prison. He promised the residents that Camp Liberty would meet humanitarian standards, that they would enjoy security in Liberty and would promptly be resettled in third countries.

Regrettably, it was soon proved that all these claims were sheer lies and Camp Liberty has been and will not be anything but a killing field.

Camp Liberty residents on May 30 expressed their final words to UNSG regarding Martin Kobler:

“Given that Kobler’s continuous and systematic lies are a clear attempt to pave the way for our massacre, we call on the US, the UN, the EU, to form a fact-finding international delegation to visit Camp Liberty in the presence of our representatives and lawyers with adequate time and to speak freely with anyone they wish to discover the truth and to publicly announce their findings for everyone’s information. We guarantee our utmost cooperation with this delegation. Now if any side refrains from forming this delegation, does not grant entry to it, or stonewalls against it, then that party demonstrates that it lacks goodwill and is involved in the massacre of Liberty residents.”

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.