Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative Names Camp Ashraf Envoy


Stop Fundamentalism – Jean De Ruyt, an experienced Belgian diplomat and the former Belgium’s Representative to the European Union, was appointed by Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative and Vice President to advise her on this union’s response to the situation at Camp Ashraf in Iraq.

De Ruyt will work with the EU member states and members of the European Parliament and also Iraq and the United States to advise the High Representative on how to solve the situation in Camp Ashraf, says a statement released by the office of High Representative today.

Camp Ashraf is the residence of over 3400 Iranian dissident-refugees who are members of the Iranian main opposition movement the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq ).  The camp went under the US observation after the war in Iraq but in 2009 US handed over the responsibility of the camp to the Iraqi authorities.

Since then Iraq staged 2 massive military assaults against the camp the last one in April killing 47 residents in total and injuring over a thousand.  Video tapes of Iraq’s military personnel have been published on the internet and media showing Iraqi soldiers aiming and shooting at unarmed residents at close range.

Since the April attack, Ashraf has become a major international focal point.  The United Nations High Commission for Refugees announced last week that it has received individual applications from all the residents in Ashraf requesting asylum.  The UNHCR declared accordingly that all residents of Ashraf, as of the time of submission of the application are considered “asylum seeker” and are protected under international law.

The statement by the High Representative was immediately welcomed by the British MEP, Struan Stevenson, who called the initiate a breakthrough with the situation of Ashraf and its residents.

“I must thank Lady Ashton warmly for this decisive and significant move,” writes the MEP in a statement on his website. About Ambassador Jean De Ruyt he adds, “I can think of no-one better able to broker a breakthrough in this complex and sensitive issue.”

Struan Stevenson, who is the President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relation with Iraq then suggested De Ruyt to visit Camp Ashraf as soon as possible.  Any attempt by the Iraqi authorities, “to prevent such a visit, it will be a clear indication of their ominous intentions towards the Ashraf residents,” stressed Stevenson in his statement.

“The appointment of Ambassador De Ruyt by Baroness Ashton has underlined the seriousness of this issue,” at Camp Ashraf, highlighted the MEP, emphasizing that he looks “forward to working closely with the ambassador to ensure that we can avoid a Srebrenica-style catastrophe occurring at Ashraf.”

Ambassador De Ruyt will be based in Brussles.