Camp Ashraf – Lives Are at Stake, Must be Protected : Martin Kobler

Stop Fundamentalism - The Special Representative of the Secretary General of United Nations told the Security Council briefing Tuesday that there is concern regarding the lives of 3400 Iranian exiles in Camp Ashraf and urged government of Iraq to extend deadline to close the camp in order to find a peaceful solution.

“Lives are at stake and must be protected,” said Martin Kobler to a Security Council briefing, “The Government has a responsibility to ensure the safety, security and welfare of the residents.”

Iraqi forces attacked Camp Ashraf back in April killing 36 residents and wounding hundreds.  Videos of the attack, put on Youtube by residents, show Iraqi soldiers directly shooting at unarmed civilians in the camp or running over them by military vehicles.

Since April Iraq has declared a deadline at the end of the year for closing the camp.  A move that makes camp residents to wonder what is the government going to do with them?  Some fear another large scale massacre is coming up and some fear repatriation to Iran where they will definitely be persecuted and be subject to torture and execution.

The residents have filed with UN High Commission for Refugees for asylum but Iraq is not allowing the UN agency to proceed with processing the applications.

The residents of Camp Ashraf are members of an Iranian dissident group, MEK, that forms the countries main opposition movement  to the theocratic rule of Ayatollahs. They have fled persecution by the Iranian regime and now are in danger facing the same in Iraq.

Kobler said that progress has been made during recent days, but there are still major obstacles in the way to arrive at a plan.  He insisted that any workable solution must be accepted by both the Iraqi government and the Iranian refugees in the camp. But the UNHCR, to process the refugee status determination, needs more time.

“Any forced action that results in bloodshed or loss of life would be both ill-advised and unacceptable,” stressed Martin Kobler, a German National recently appointed as the Secretary General’s Envoy to Iraq and the head of UNAMI.

Martin Kobler also called on the international community to do more to find a peaceful solution.

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