Ashraf: Call for Action Letter
August 03, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
The events of July 29 at Camp Ashraf, Iraq are clear violations of the United States’ obligation to offer protection and defense against torture, kidnapping, and extradition of Protected Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention. U.S. soldiers sworn to protect and defend the unarmed Iranian civilian dissidents of the Peoples Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI) stood by and watched while parts of the camp were forcibly demolished by Iraqi forces, who then proceeded to fire weapons on an unarmed crowd of women and men. Twelve are dead (so far), hundreds injured – some seriously – and our intelligence indicates that the Iranian Qods Forces helped direct this surprise attack, which was timed to coincide with repression inside Iran, and Secretary Gates’ visit to Iraq to herald its peaceful transition to democracy. Now we have information that over 30 people have been kidnapped, taken away for interrogation, harassment, and extradition to certain death.
The entire situation may be laid at the door of Iranian influence in Iraq, particularly with their ongoing attempts to liquidate this legitimate opposition group. Since the PMOI was recently found by the nations of Great Britain and the EU to be entirely innocent of terrorist activity, and had never been placed on any list of proscribed organizations by the United Nations, it is particularly ironic that this attack is the way the al-Maliki government chooses to honor its assurances to the United States of humane and lawful treatment of all residents of Camp Ashraf.
The duty of civilized nations to protect this group is clear, and the violation of guarantees made by the MNF-I to residents and concerned citizens around the world requires action by the international community, and relevant government agencies within the United States and Iraq.
We insist that the following actions be taken:
1. Medical aid and other relevant supplies must immediately be made available to Ashraf residents. We ask Medicins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) to send a party of observers and aid workers to assess the ongoing situation with respect to medical and humanitarian needs.
2. We insist that U.S. soldiers be directed to prevent any further violence against the PMOI by the Iraqi forces. This is not a matter of Iraq’s national sovereignty, which is not at question, but rather one of international commitments to those whom we have disarmed and promised our protection.
3. We demand that the PMOI be allowed to bury their dead.
4. We insist that the Fourth Geneva Convention be observed with respect to these dissidents: Extradition to Iran will most certainly mean torture and death for these long-time opponents of the murderous regime in Tehran.
5. We must receive immediate information about the whereabouts, condition and future plans for those who were kidnapped from Ashraf and taken away for interrogation. Among those we seek to locate and aid are the following individuals:
6. We ask that Human Rights organizations send observers and representatives to Ashraf to insure that the above actions have been taken, and to oversee any future disposition of Ashraf residents.
As believing persons and citizens of conscience, we respectfully submit that the shameful attack made on Ashraf at the end of July calls for a full condemnation by the United States, United Nations, Human Rights bodies, and the international community. The moral dimensions of the callous disregard for human life and safety in resolving the situation of the residents of Ashraf are clear to us, if not to our leaders or the Iraqi government:
The Geneva Conventions are inviolable; the clear disregard for international law and common human decency deserved by allies who willingly disarmed is a crime against humanity. The current situation is unacceptable, and we beg you to act, rather than stand idly by while more people are killed.
Carole R. Fontaine, Ph.D.
Taylor Professor of Biblical Theology and History
Facilitator, ICSPPAI (Interreligious Committee in Support of Protected Persons in Ashraf, Iraq)
Jennifer A. Shaw
Secretary General, ICSPPAI