Press Statement – Friends of a Free Iran (FoFI)
? Call by 210 Euro MPs in Brussels to Baroness Ashton on the status of Iranian dissidents in Iraq
? Maryam Rajavi, President –elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran urged engagement of European institutions in protecting 3100 Iranian refugees at Camp Liberty
Brussels – In a meeting at the invitation of the Friends of a Free Iran (FOFI) intergroup in the European Parliament on Wednesday, March 27, it was announced that 210 MEPs, in a call to Mrs Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, warned of another attack on the residents of Camp Liberty, the place of residence of 3,100 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.
Struan Stevenson, Chair of FOFI who is also President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq, read the statement by the Members of the European Parliament from all political groups. The MEPs called for the immediate transfer of the residents to Camp Ashraf, their home for the past 26 years and their subsequent transfer of the entire community to third countries, including the EU.
The European lawmakers criticized the silence and inactivity of Mrs. Ashton regarding the February 9 attack on Camp Liberty by the Iranian regime with the clear cooperation of the Government of Iraq and reiterated that this inactivity would act as a ‘green light’ for the Iranian regime and the government of Iraq to continue with their programme of murder and aggression.
They rejected the record of Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Iraq and declared that Ban Ki-moon should appoint an impartial and competent envoy in place of the current representative or the activities of UNAMI should be terminated altogether, handing over all further responsibility to UNHCR.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian resistance, was the keynote speaker of the event. She provided an update on developments at Ashraf and Liberty and asked for urgent action by the EU to protect the 3100 Iranian refugees in Camp Liberty. She said the residents of Liberty should be transferred to the US or a European country, even on a temporary basis, or the conditions should be set for the return of the residents to the relative safety of Camp Ashraf.
Several former senior UN and US officials who had held various responsibilities in Ashraf and Liberty in recent years were invited to speak as witnesses.
Dr. Tahar Boumedra, chief of the United Nations Assistance Mission in the Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office, who resigned in May 2012 in protest at the behaviour of Martin Kobler, testified about the policy of the Iraqi government and UNAMI regarding Ashraf.
General David Phillips, commander of US forces for the protection of Ashraf in 2004 explained his experiences, and Col. Wesley Martin, Ashraf protection commander in 2005 provided his detailed and technical assessment about the security situation of Liberty for the audience.
Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Jim Higgins Member of the European Parliament’s Bureau, and several other international speakers addressed the meeting. Participants stressed the following points:
1- Given the possibility of another attack on Liberty, which the US government has also expressed concerns about, and which the Iraqi government has stressed it is unable to prevent, the security of Liberty residents has total priority. Any solution for their protection must be immediate and must include all residents without exception.
2- The preferred option is the immediate transfer of all residents to the US or a European country, even on temporary terms, from which they can then be resettled to third countries. We call upon the EU leadership, Baroness Ashton, and Member States to act on this solution. The next option is the immediate transfer of all residents back to Ashraf, finalising the refugee process from there. Keeping a large number of them in Liberty under any pretext is dangerous and unacceptable.
3- The UN envoy, Martin Kobler, forcing the residents to return to ‘business as usual’ with the continuation of UNHCR interviews, while accepting individual and limited relocations; will undoubtedly result in paving the way for another vicious assault on the camp.
4- Martin Kobler has had a very destructive role in the past 15 months in solving the problem of Ashraf and Liberty, and as Mr. Stevenson wrote in his letter of March 16 to the Secretary General: “He is the person who sent Ashraf residents to the prison-like conditions of Camp Liberty against their will, by promising them safety and security, speedy resettlement and humanitarian living standards, none of which conditions have been fulfilled. The deaths of 12 of the Ashraf residents since their forcible move to Camp Liberty and the serious injury to over 100 others, is directly attributable to the activities and deceptions of Mr Kobler, who should be held to account for his behaviour. Your unequivocal support for him not only weakens the credibility of the UN but will cause the loss of further lives in Ashraf and Liberty for which you and the UN will be held responsible.”
5- Martin Kobler’s speech in the UN Security Council’s session about Iraq on March 21 that included clear lies about the residents of Ashraf and Liberty and their leadership, was intended to force the remaining residents of Ashraf to move to Liberty and to force Liberty residents to stop insisting on their security and return to ‘business as usual’ as if nothing had happened on 9th February..
6- Participants in this meeting, while condemning the pressures being exerted on Ashraf and Liberty residents and their leadership, supported the residents’ decision to make the continuation of interviews and piecemeal resettlement, conditional upon their immediate return to Ashraf, and called on the President of the EU, the President of the European Commission, and the EU High representative to urge the Iraqi government to accept this legitimate demand, otherwise they should re-evaluate their relationship with Iraq.
7- Until the transfer of residents back to Ashraf takes place, the Iraqi government must provide five measures that the residents have demanded for security purposes: 1. Returning the 17,500 T-walls which were dismantled to provide safety for the resident’s trailers; 2. the immediate transfer of
helmets and bullet-proof vests from Ashraf to Liberty; 3. the transfer of medical supplies from Ashraf to Liberty and 4. the expansion of Liberty’s current area to 2.5 square kilometres.
8- Testimonies of Dr Tahar Boumedra in the US Congress (September 13, 2012), the UK Parliament (December 11, 2012) , the UN headquarters in Geneva ( February 28, 2013) and the European Parliament (March 26 and 27, 2013) simply cannot be overlooked. The UN Secretary General, in order to respect the values of this institution, must form an independent investigative commission and make its results public. Commitment to the UN principles necessitates the immediate replacement of Martin Kobler by the UN Secretary General.
Struan Stevenson MEP
Chair, Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup
Friends of a Free Iran intergroup (FoFI) was formed in 2004 and enjoys the active support of over 200 MEPs Chair: Struan Stevenson (ECR) Vice Chairs: Stephen Hughes (S&D Vice-President); Louis Michel (ALDE); Jim Higgins (EPP) Soren Sondergaard (GUE); Jan Zahradil (ECR Vice President); Tunne Kelam (EPP); Michael Cashman (S&D)