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Iraqi forces attack Camp Ashraf

Liberty - A Concentration Camp in the Making in Iraq

Surprisingly the facilitator to the process is the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative to Iraq, Ambassador Martin Kobler, a German diplomat and a former head of cabinet of German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer from the Green Party.  Mr. Fischer was one of the key architect of the policy of appeasement vis-à-vis the mullahs’ regime in Iran.

While Ambassador Kobler was commissioned by the Secretary General to find a peaceful and humane solution that both the residents of Ashraf and Iraqi government would agree upon, the Ambassador, in a complete disregard for his mandate, is forcing the residents of the camp into leaving the camp where they have lived in for the past 25 years in order to go into a prison and literally a concentration camp the government of Iraq has prepared for them.  That is going from a 36 sq. Kilometers area into a half sq. km with high walls, bad conditions, no access to outside world, Iraqi police everywhere, surrounded by Iraqi army.  The camp is literally a prison and a concentration camp to be more exact.

While the residents really tried to work with the new Ambassador, it seems he is more and more in disregard of the wishes and concerns of the residents and more receptive to the demands of the Iraqi government and the Iranian regime that wish to exterminate all the residents at the camp.

Simultaneously, there is growing concern among families of the Ashraf residents who are not happy with the turn of events and feel to have been betrayed by the United Nation. Hundreds of them have been holding sit-ins on 24/7 basis in Geneva in front of the UN European headquarters. They are frustrated and some have already begun questioning the wisdom of relying on the UN, when UN is not prepared to stand for its own values and even provide freedom of movement for the residents.

Camp Ashraf for 25 years has been the home for 3400 Iranian dissidents, members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq or MeK/PMOI, who have fled prison, torture and execution at the hands of the Iranian mullahs’ regime. A large number of residents have previously been political prisoners in Iran who have somehow managed to escape the theocratic regime’s brutalities only to take sanctuary in Ashraf, Iraq.  They have built a peaceful and relatively modern environment in the middle of Iraqi dessert north of Baghdad.

The residents of the camp, following the occupation of Iraq by the coalition forces, turned in their weapons and received ‘protected persons’ status under Forth Geneva Conventions. They managed to peacefully stay in the camp until 2009 when American forces turned the responsibility of protection to the Iraqi government.  In two incidents following the Iraqi take over, in July 2009 and April 2011, 47 residents were slaughtered at the hands of the Iraqi military forces and hundreds wounded.

The second attack on the camp which left 36 residents dead, including 8 women, started an international outcry and many government officials condemned the Iraqi government for the Camp Ashraf Massacre subsequently.  The Secretary General of the United Nation, Ban Ki-moon, twice in his report to the Security Council called for a peaceful solution to the crisis, one that will be acceptable to the residents of Camp Ashraf and satisfy Iraqi government wishes who had announced that it wants the camp closed and its residents removed from the country.

Since then, the residents of Camp Ashraf have applied to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR for political asylum, but the Iraqi government has refused the agency to begin its work, subject to transfer of the resident to Camp Liberty.  But In Liberty the residents are certain to face imprisonment, harsh treatment and most likely forceful return to Iran at the hands of the Iraqi forces rather than be interviewed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Surprisingly, Ambassador Kobler is pressuring the residents and their leadership to move to Camp Liberty, threatening them about further attacks if they remain in Ashraf, but calls it a ‘voluntary relocation.’  It seems that in Ambassador Kobler’s vocabulary there is a different definition for ‘voluntary.’