UN is Warned to Act to Prevent Further Attack on Iranian Dissidents in Iraq

NEW YORK, July 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

In a press conference in New York it was announced today that U.S. lawyers have petitioned the Security Council, Secretary-General, and High Commissioner of Human Rights on behalf of the Iranian dissidents residing in Camp Ashraf and Liberty, demanding action to provide security for the over 3,000 members of the Iranian opposition in Camp Liberty in Iraq.  Considering the vulnerability of Camp Liberty, the petition urges the immediate return of the residents to Camp Ashraf as well as immediate action to address the urgent security needs of the residents.

The Camp came under rocket attacks in February and June which left 10 killed and 170 wounded. The Government of Iraq has refused urgent requests to fortify the Camp. Serious allegations of professional misconduct have also been lodged against UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General Martin Kobler by Tahar Boumedra, former Chief of the UNAMI Human Rights Office (2009-2012), regarding the SRSG's complicity in the ongoing abuses against camp residents.

The petition illustrates flagrant violations of the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions establishing and renewing UNAMI, and relevant guidelines promulgated by UNHCR with regards to the treatment of asylum seekers and persons of concern.

In the press conference today, Mr. Boumedra strongly criticized Martin Kobler for the forcible relocation of Iranian dissidents from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty. "The ongoing abuses suffered by the residents of Camp Liberty were predictable. In late 2011, Mr. Kobler refused to convey two reports commissioned by the UN in Iraq to examine the readiness of Camp Liberty to house thousands of people securely.  The first report said the Camp did not meet international standards.  And the second said the Camp was vulnerable to attack from the air.  Mr. Kobler buried the reports and told the United Nations in New York, diplomatic community, and the residents themselves that Camp Liberty was ready for the transfers and would be secure," Mr. Boumedra said, adding, "UNAMI, through a series of disinformation and misleading reports, managed to rally the international community behind the plan of closing Camp Ashraf and the forcible relocation of its residents to Camp Liberty, a prison like facility much exposed to attacks by the residents' detractors. The Secretary General must investigate the misconduct of the UN Mission in Iraq and its disrespect for the UN's core values and the principles of the UN Charter and the ICCPR."  

Dr. Ramesh Sepehrrad, Adjunct Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at the George Mason University, with six relatives at Camp Liberty said "The situation at Liberty has gone beyond a humanitarian crisis; it is virtually a killing field.  The Secretary-General must intervene personally to save our loved ones.  He must demand the Iraqis install the t-walls, provide the protective gear the residents had in Camp Ashraf, and ensure they have the basic medical equipment to meet their needs.  The next step must include their return to Ashraf until UNHCR delivers on its commitment."  

"The conditions at 'Liberty Prison' are absolutely horrible. The UN and the US must make provisions, without delay, to improve the conditions at Liberty. We demand, as have close to 100 US lawmakers, that the residents be returned to Ashraf, where their safety is relatively more secure. The status quo is untenable, unacceptable, and will only guarantee the loss of further life if it isn't urgently addressed," added Ali Tasslimi, President of the Association of Iranian Americans in New York and New Jersey, who has two brothers at Camp Liberty

The residents' petition makes the following recommendations:

  • Operating under its Chapter VII authority as it renews UNAMI's mandate, the Security Council should require the immediate return of Camp Liberty Residents to Camp Ashraf and designate Camp Ashraf as a UN-Flagged Refugee Camp under UNHCR control;
  • Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should initiate a thorough personnel investigation into SRSG Kobler's alleged misconduct;
  • Given the emergency situation, UNCHR should grant refugee status to all Residents through a group determination; and in accordance with its mandate take full responsibility for the Residents in Ashraf and Liberty, and provide them international protection;
  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should initiate an independent and impartial investigation into the United Nation's handling of the situation of Camp Liberty and Camp Ashraf Residents, ensuring to focus in particular on the Residents' repeated complaints about UNAMI's actions;
  • UNAMI and UNHCR should insist that the Government of Iraq abide by the UN Principles on House and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons, which require that displaced persons be compensated for any housing, land, and/or property that is impossible to restore; and
  • Upon completion of relevant investigation(s), the United Nations should provide just compensation to those killed or injured as a result of any misconduct by UN personnel; those individuals found responsible of any misconduct must be held personally accountable.

SOURCE Perseus Strategies




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