NEW YORK, April 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) held a news conference Thursday organized by the Near East Human Rights Initiative (NEHRI). Former senior U.S. government officials and International Humanitarian Law experts presented documents confirming the direct role of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the April 8th massacre at Camp Ashraf, Iraq, home to 3,400 members of Iran's main opposition, Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK).
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former Senator, Robert Torricelli; former Senior Counsel to the United States Mission to the U.N. Dr. Allan Gerson; and Steven Schneebaum, Professorial Lecturer at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, spoke at the conference, chaired by Bruce McColm, NEHRI's founding member and former Executive Director of Freedom House.
The speakers emphasized that despite repeated advance warnings, the United States and the United Nations failed to prevent the Iraqi army's deadly assault in which 35 residents, including 8 women, were killed and more than 350 wounded.
Bruce McColm, displaying the copy of the Iraqi Army's operational orders of the April 8 attack said that "The operational orders of this attack" refers to the people in Camp Ashraf as the "enemy forces" and repeatedly, it mentions "attacking the enemy with the use of force."
"The residents of Ashraf need protection. They don't need resolutions. They don't need rallies. They need protection. NOW! Right away -- internationally if possible, sponsored through the United Nations, but immediately," emphasized Judge Muskasey, adding, "Iraqi troops should be directed to leave the vicinity of Camp Ashraf, and to leave immediately. This is not an issue that engages the question of Iraqi sovereignty."
"There is every reason to believe, and lots of evidence suggests this, that the Iranian regime had a major hand in organizing, orchestrating this 'deliberate, choreographed and murderous' attack," noted Mr. Schneebaum. "There is every indication that the people of Ashraf remain in even more danger than they were in before April 8th. They must be provided protection and the only entity with both the presence and the moral force to conduct that protection at present is the United Nations -- whether it's UNAMI, or whether it is the United Nations Detachment authorized for that purpose by the Security Council is the detail. United Nations has a mandate now to insist that the people of Ashraf be protected, and the events of last week need to be investigated... and if the result is that war crimes and other crimes have been committed, well the world community today has a way of dealing with those things."
Senator Torricelli said, "Three member nations of this organization have blood on their hands: the Iranians who ordered the attack, the Iraqis who conducted, and tragically because it is so unfair and it is so wrong, the government of the United States because it provided the weapons... There is certainly something we can all do about the policy of the United States: getting the MEK off the foreign terrorist list so it is no longer used as an excuse for murder is the first order of business."
"Our immediate task is to change things on the ground; to ensure that the injured get medical treatment; and that Iraq never repeats what it did. The time has arrived not only to immediately delist the MEK, but to ensure that the United States and the international community fulfill their responsibility towards the people of Ashraf, and not engage in the illusion -- which comes at a terrible price -- that that responsibility can be shifted to Iraq," Dr. Gerson underscored.
SOURCE Near East Human Rights Initiative (NEHRI)