California Society for Democracy in Iran: Members of Congress Denounce Iraq's Threats against Camp Ashraf Residents, Urge the U.S. to Ensure the Minimum Life Support in Camp Liberty Before the Transfer of the Next Group

Aug 03, 2012, 00:39 ET from California Society for Democracy in Iran

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- US House of Representatives -- Press release by California Society for Democracy in Iran -- A dozen bi-partisan Members of Congress addressed a Congressional briefing, describing the living conditions at Camp Liberty, Iraq where 2,000 Iranian dissidents live, as "terrible," "disgraceful," and "atrocious."

The speakers underscored the United States Government's responsibility for the full protection of the residents of Camps Ashraf and Liberty, urging the State Department to compel the Iraqi Government to abide by its commitments and allow improvement of the living conditions at Camp Liberty before the next group of residents leaves Ashraf.

"I have been against the shutting down of Camp Ashraf. I have been against taking that population and putting them anywhere else. There's supposed to be a resettlement program in place; we have seen no such resettlement," stressed Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a message on August 1, 2012.

She added, "They [Iranian dissidents] are not asking for money, are not asking for supplies, are not asking for anything other than being given the chance to improve their living conditions so that they can have shelter that is livable."

"That is why we are demanding, and demanding and demanding that our State Department take action in a very humanitarian way to let the residents of Camp Liberty refurbish their own facilities and make sure that we do not continue with this forced relocation of the Camp Ashraf residents that has been their home for a long time," Ros-Lehtinen said.

Ros-Lehtinen concluded, "So we in Congress are committed to doing everything we can to ensure humanitarian treatment for the residents of Camp Liberty, to stop further relocation from the residents of Camp Ashraf, to work with our international partners to see where we can find a place, a country that can accept these freedom seekers. And these are very peaceful individuals."

Congressman Dan Lungren (R-CA), a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security who opened the event said, "It isn't any wonder that those who remain in Camp Ashraf are unwilling to follow the trek of those relocated to a destination with the Orwellian name of Camp Liberty. Hauntingly, the natural impulse of self-preservation may be framed by some as resistance. I don't think we should allow this to be used as a pretense for further atrocities or a third massacre."

"Although Camp Liberty was portrayed as temporary transit location for the processing of refugees," said Mr. Lungren, "it has become increasingly evident that the road traveled from Ashraf led to a very different destination." Referring to Sadegh Kazem, the Iraqi officer in charge of Camp Liberty, he said, "Shockingly, as we commemorate the two massacres at Ashraf, the alleged leader of the assault in 2011, is the very same person who is now commander of Camp Liberty."

The Texas Democrat, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, a senior member of Committee on Homeland Security emphasized on the bi-partisan demand by Members of Congress: "We cannot be blocked by the Iraqi Government from going to visit with people who have their stories to tell [and] to be able to determine the status and conditions of those who are now suffering because of lack of clean water."

Jackson-Lee concluded that Congress is concerned about the labeling of this Camp as a temporary quarter without the refugee status.  "And I'm going to really fight for that. That is a key element; so that all the international protections are given to those who are now moving to Camp Liberty."

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee described the residents of Camp Ashraf as "a group of people who the United States made promises to, and who the United States now seems to be abandoning and maybe be in the worst be betraying, in order to curry favor with a vicious dictatorship that hates the United States."

"Why they had to go to Camp Liberty in the first place," asked the chair of the Subcommittee of Oversight and Investigations, adding, "We would just need to take people at Camp Ashraf off the terrorist list. It's about time that the United States starts acting like the home of the free and the brave and stop acting like cowards and people who would kowtow to Mullahs in order to placate them."

Judge Ted Poe (R-TX), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee described the plan to move the residents of Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty as an Iranian scheme: "This new plan to move … was just another way for the little fellow from the desert [Ahmadinejad] to make sure that life was terrible for the MEK, to torture them, to belittle them, to intimidate them, because he couldn't get them back into Iran."

"I used to be a judge in Texas. I have been to Guantanamo Bay prison. I have been to prisons all over the world…the condition at Camp Liberty that we allow to exist are worse than any prison I have ever seen," he added.

Poe added that America has "the moral and legal obligation to take and protect those folks in Camp Ashraf or Camp Liberty... The reason other countries won't take them because the United States still designates [the MEK] as a foreign terrorist organization.  It's real simple. Delist the MEK."

"Enough of us in Congress know the rightness of your cause.  We are working to see that the MEK is delisted quickly and forcibly... Our own State Department's thinking on this is muddled and unclear and mincing and weak. And we would like to correct that," Congressman Robert Turner (R-NY), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee said.

His Committee colleague, David Rivera (R-FL), added, "The will and the message of Congress is that the United States must ensure that Iraq keep its commitment to the residents of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty and make sure their human rights and their civil liberties are preserved."

The California Republican, Tom McClintock (R-CA), emphasized, "We expect the Government of the United States to take its rightful role and moral leadership in supporting… the refugees in Camp Liberty and Camp Ashraf. This Government has fallen short of that responsibility… This situation in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty -- and the Iraqi Government's indifference and indeed complicity in the unacceptable conditions [must be rectified]."

Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) who is called the Conscience of the U.S. Congress underscored, "Together you must hang in there and stay committed to liberate your beloved brothers and sisters from these two camps... And I say to you, hang in there.  Individuals may stop and tell you to stop.  You must not stop."

The Armed Services Committee member, Trent Franks (R-AZ), said, "The living conditions at Camp Liberty are atrocious.  The people at Camp Ashraf are resisting the force to try to force them into doing things that are certainly not in their best interest... Where is the State Department?  They could change this thing overnight, if they would simply take away this terrorist designation [of the MEK]...Unfortunately they continue to try to pretend the problem doesn't exist to try to make this situation fit into their kind of closed-eye approach."

Describing Camp Liberty as a "total misnomer," Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a member of the Committee on Appropriations said, "It should be called Camp Shameful, Camp Embarrassment. It is a shame that the United States has made commitments that will not follow-up in order to appease the thugs, the thug dictatorship in Iran. It's beyond the State Department and this Administration not showing leadership. They are collaborating with the infamy that is taking place with the people that live in these camps."

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism said, "Even though the Liberty residents have offered to pay to install the water pump nearby, the Iraqi Government is holding out. That's not right.  Why not allow residents to drink clean water at no cost to the Government?  And when residents tried to put up shades to protect them from the sun, they were ordered to remove it despite the heat...Well, this is outrageous!"

SOURCE California Society for Democracy in Iran