June 25, 2017

Maryam Rajavi: Relocation of Ashraf residents inside Iraq is tantamount to sending them to their deaths

National Council of Resistance of Iran – Press Release

The Iranian Resistance is in no way willing to discuss relocation of Ashraf residents inside Iraq unless their protection in the new location is officially guaranteed by the American forces or Blue Helmets of United Nations

Following the letter from Iraqi embassy dated 15 November to the protocol section of the European Parliament indicating that “the government of Iraq is committed to its decision to close Camp Ashraf by the end of 2011,” and that “the Iraqi government was left with no choice but to evacuate the Camp based on principle of sovereignty, and transfer its residents to other camps in Iraq,” Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance said:

“Relocating residents of Ashraf inside Iraq, is a Crime against Humanity and is a prelude to a grand massacre that has been devised by the Iranian theocratic fascist rulers and the government of Iraq.  Forcible relocation of Ashraf residents is tantamount to sending them to their deaths and that is something they will never give in to.  As it was tested in the massacre of thirty thousand political prisoners in 1988, the regime in crisis situation would not accept anything but massacre of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) Currently the bloody annihilation of the Ashraf residents is pursued under pretext of relocation.”

Mrs. Rajavi in July 28 reminded the responsibility of the United States regarding any bloodshed in Ashraf and the necessity of preventing it, and announced: “The Iranian Resistance is no longer prepared to discuss relocation of Ashraf residents inside Iraq in no way and at any cost unless the United States would declare that it will accept their protection utilizing American forces until resettlement to third countries.”

Mrs. Rajavi added “if the United States does not want to fulfil the written commitments it signed with every Ashraf resident to protect them until the final disposition, the only acceptable option for a relocation inside Iraq is the protection of Ashraf residents by the UN Blue Helmet forces and a UN monitoring team stationed in the new location until the last resident is transferred to third countries. Otherwise, relocation inside Iraq is not acceptable to anyone, particularly for the women in Ashraf.  They prefer to die in Ashraf rather than to be buried in a remote location away from international attention and scrutiny. At a time when the UNHCR had declared its readiness to establish the identity of Ashraf residents, it is not clear what conspiracy is at works that Maliki is preventing the UNHCR from carrying out its process. Undoubtedly this is linked to the seven-point agreement between the mullahs’ regime and Maliki’s government to suppress Ashraf which was publicly announced on October 23 by the clerical regime’s Foreign Ministry.”
 
Mrs. Rajavi urged the Secretary General of the United Nations, High commissioner for Refugees, High commissioner for Human Rights, and UNSG Representative for Iraq, as well as the U.S. President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and all the European leaders and Foreign Ministers of member states to fulfill their legal commitments according to Article 1 of third paragraph of UN charter, International Human Rights Declaration, and paragraphs 138, 139 from final document on Responsibility to Protect “RtoP” adopted by the U.N. on 2005 and according to resolutions 1438, 1500, 2001 of the U.N. Security Council which have determined duties and frameworks of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq.
 
As stipulated by prominent international jurists, United States and the United Nations bear the responsibility to protect the residents of Ashraf and this is a legal obligation.
 
Silence and inaction vis-à-vis a forcible relocation of Ashraf residents pave the way for another great crime against humanity which is predictable and any cooperation with regards to their forced relocation is complicity in the crime.
 
On the negotiations that are underway between the U.N. and the Government of Iraq regarding Ashraf, Mrs. Rajavi reminded:

1. Closure of Ashraf and relocation of the residents inside Iraq, was the demand of Khamenei since the transfer of the security of Ashraf from the U.S. forces to the Government of Iraq. The officials of the Iranian regime have reiterated this on a number of occasions.

2. During his meeting with Khamenei in Tehran on January 5, 2009, Al-Maliki “committed to close the file on the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) in an immediate timetable.”  In addition “The Prime Minister of Iraq assured Khamenei that Iraq takes the responsibility for final closure of the opposition PMOI’s file in a timetable through international relations to transfer them to a third country in the most immediate time frame”  (Al-Zaman International).

3. On February 28, 2009, during a meeting with the President of Iraq in Tehran, Khamenei asked him and the Prime Minister of Iraq to implement the bilateral agreement for the expulsion of the PMOI from Iraq (Iranian state television).

4. On November 6, 2009, “The Prime Minister of Iraq and Iran’s Speaker of Parliament underscored the need for the expulsion of the PMOI from Iraq and the Iraqi side emphasized on their removal from Iraq” (Iranian state-run news agency, Mehr).

5. In his meeting with the U.S. officials in Baghdad on March 23, 2009, Al-Maliki provided the plan to displace Ashraf residents inside Iraq (Guardian, December 15, 2010).

6. The letter of the Embassy of Iraq to the European Parliament vividly shows that the end of 2011 deadline and the massacre of civilian and defenseless Ashraf residents have been dictated by the clerical regime. In this document it has been stipulated:

• “The existence of this organization however raises problems with Iran.”

• “The presence of this organization in Iraq threatens… the security of neighboring countries.”

• “Iraq wants to build peaceful relations with the neighboring countries (Iran).”

• “There are many complaints against the members of this organization… Large numbers of them are wanted on Iraqi and international arrest warrants.”

7. In this document, the Government of Iraq, in a brazen violation of international laws and the September 13 state of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) that declared Ashraf residents as asylum-seekers under international protection, stipulates that it recognizes no legal status for Ashraf residents. It neither considers them as refugees, nor as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Conventions,….What the Government of Iraq that on July 2009 and April 2011 massacred Ashraf residents, and its senior officials including the Prime Minister himself, who are under investigation by the Spanish court for crime against international community, war crime, and crime against humanity, would do with persons with “no status” who would be incarcerated in barracks in various parts of Iraq?
 
The Government that has reneged all of its commitments, written and oral assurances to the U.S. Government and the U.N. regarding humane treatment of Ashraf residents, is not trust worthy and its current assurances are simply for neutralizing international pressures and planned massacre according to the deadline. 

8. In lengthy negotiations between Ashraf residents and the US Government and UN officials, neither the Americans nor the UN were able to present the least security guarantee to Ashraf residents after a relocation in Iraq. Why should defenseless and innocent people be sent to unknown places far from international observers inside Iraq when the main international parties cannot guarantee their protection?
When the UN correctly does not allow its personnel to move about inside Iraq without total security guarantees, then with what logic can the PMOI members in Ashraf who are the main targets of the Iranian regime’s terrorism be left unprotected in Iraq?

9. The imposition of relocation is in contravention of the UN Secretary General’s remarks, stressed in paragraph 66 of his 7 July 2011 report to the UN Security Council in which hecalls upon “Member States to help to support and facilitate the implementation of any arrangement that is acceptable to the Government of Iraq and the camp residents”.

10. It is the Ashraf resident’s right and indeed red line to not surrender to the religious fascism ruling Iran and its despicable dictates, and to be assured of minimum security protection until such time that they are all transferred to third countries. They have shown the utmost flexibility in past months. In May, on my request, they accepted the European Parliament plan for transfer to third countries and forsook their right of residence in a place that has been their home for 25 years. In August, they accepted the UNHCR’s position despite the fact that the emergency situation in Ashraf and their 25 year history of refuge and residence in Iraq made them eligible for immediate affirmation of their refugee status. They then presented individual applications for refugee status to the UNHCR and declared their readiness for individual and private interviews.

11. Ashraf residents, in a practical solution to hasten the process of conducting the interviews in line with the UNHCR’s rules, suggested a complete partitioning of a section of Ashraf to UN control and under the UN flag for the interviews. They also declared their readiness to go to interviews at any place which the UNHCR deems appropriate on condition that to avoid past cases of kidnappings, hostage-taking, bombings, or assassinations, their security be guaranteed at the same level as is customary for UN personnel and without any intervention by Iraqi forces, with guarantees for the applicant’s return to Ashraf.

12. Simultaneously, the Iranian Resistance has exerted the utmost effort to transfer Ashraf residents, especially the ill and wounded, to outside Iraq and is continuing those efforts. We have conducted talks with many European and other countries in this regard and have borne extensive costs as well. Despite all this, the Iraqi government’s obstruction in the verification of the Ashraf residents’ identities by the UNHCR is still continuing which reflects that government’s ominous and murderous intentions to please the ruling religious dictatorship in Iran.

13. The Iraqi government tries to impose its plans on the US, UN and particularly on Mr. Kobler, the UN Secretary General’s new special representative to Iraq through a campaign of demonization and misinformation. It deceitfully tries to portray the plot to relocate inside Iraq as a peaceful plan. The Iraqi government has told the US and UN that if a great number of residents leave Ashraf by the end of the year, it might reconsider the deadline. At the same time it insists that before it allows the UNHCR to begin its legal duties it must present an acceptable timetable and plan for the transfer of Ashraf residents from Iraq. This is something that is not within the UNHCR’s capability or mandate. Everyone knows that the prerequisite for transfer and resettlement to third countries is affirmation of the individuals’ refugee status.

14. Therefore, what the Iraqi government has done until right out of the mullahs’ regime playbook and is nothing but setting the stage for another violent bloodbath. Therefore, while recalling the massacres of July 2009 and April 2011 in Ashraf which occurred in an international atmosphere of neglect of the Iranian Resistance’s repeated warnings, I demand the international community, particularly UN member states and  bodies and relevant authorities:

First, to categorically remove any forcible relocation of Ashraf residents inside Iraq from the agenda;

Second, the illegal and suppressive deadline of the end of 2011 which was invented from the start to shirk responsibility of the crimes committed on 8 April and to evade internationally called for investigations about this great crime, should be cancelled until the end of the UNHCR’s work and the transfer of all Ashraf residents to third countries;

Third, as the Iraqi government is not allowing the UNHCR to start the verification of identities of Ashraf residents and the process for affirmation of their refugee status on an individual basis, the only way left to prevent a massacre of unarmed and defenseless residents, is the general affirmation of the refugee status of Ashraf residents by the UNHCR until such time that subsequent individual interviews and final status of each application is completed;

Fourth, the protection of Ashraf residents with UN blue helmet forces and the stationing of UN observers until the transfer of the last person to a third country should be facilitated and guaranteed by the UN Security Council.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran 
November 20, 2011