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We condemn the threatening remarks of Iraqi government

We condemn the threatening remarks of Iraqi government against the Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf.

According to news agencies in a meeting in Baghdad, on 31 July, Faleh Fayaz, the national security advisor of Prime Minister Maliki said that extension for the closure of Camp Ashraf has ended and from now Iraq will take measures towards its lawful and legitimate responsibilities to enforce Iraq's sovereignty. He was quoted as saying, "Iraq says will force out Iran dissident group".

His threatening remarks to use force and violence was after Iraq was encouraged by the remarks by the UN envoy in Iraq, Martin Kobler against Ashraf residents on 20 July at the UN Security Council which he thanked Iraq for its “patience” and “generosity”. So far nearly 50 residents including 8 women were brutally massacred in two separate attacks in 2009 and 2011.

Under pressure from the Iranian government, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki decided to close Camp Ashraf and move the inhabitants to camp 'Liberty' near Baghdad airport which according to the ‘Council of Europe' , this camp is more like a prison. To prevent further bloodshed, Mrs Maryam Rajavi - the president of the Iranian resistance, encouraged the residents to move to Camp Liberty. Around 2000 Iranian dissidents, in Camp Ashraf have moved to Liberty. Nearly 1300 remain In Ashraf.

But the residents have not been allowed to bring their property from Ashraf; have not been given access to sufficient water and electricity; and are not even allowed the minimum constructions for the disabled and people with special needs. In Liberty, they are now being held in appalling conditions with inadequate water, sewage facilities or electricity generation. They are denied the right to leave the camp. Lawyers and politicians have been denied access to Liberty.

A recently published report by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, considers the situation of residents in Liberty as violation of international laws, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Contrary to the recent remarks by the US State Department, it is not the Ashraf residents and their leadership that are inflexible, but it is Iraqi government that is refusing to provide the minimum humanitarian needs of the residents and even preventing the residents from providing them by themselves. In spite of continuous violation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by Iraq and the prison-like conditions of Liberty and the lack of minimum humanitarian needs, Ashraf residents have illustrated their maximum cooperation and good will by relocation of 2000 people.

If there is any genuine desire by Iraq for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, it should facilitate the provision of these needs for the relocation of the remaining residents in Ashraf to resume without further delay.

These needs are: Connection of Liberty to the city water network or pumping water from a river adjacent to the camp, transfer of the main generators of 1.5 Mega Watt, allowing the sale of the movable and immovable properties, minimum constructions particularly of special facilities for disabled and ill people, transfer of the six utility vehicles, 6 trailers for the disabled, transfer of 5 forklifts and 50 passenger cars.

We call on the EU, Baroness Ashton and the Belgian government to carry out their responsibilities and to prevent another human catastrophe. Any violence against these defenceless refugees and their forcible displacement is absolutely unacceptable and this message must be conveyed to the Iraqi government immediately to prevent a third attack and massacre.

As is has been stressed time and again, Ashraf residents are eager to keep their promise and relocate to Camp Liberty as soon as minimum humanitarian conditions are realized at the Camp.

Dirk Claes
Senator/Mayor
Leader of Flemish Christian Democratic Group in Belgian Senate
President of Belgian Committee of Parliamentarians for a Democratic Iran

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