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Protecting Camp Ashraf

Statement of David Matas, Press Conference, 11 August 2009, Press Club de France, Paris, France

Iraqi police on July 28, 2009 attacked the residents of Camp Ashraf, killed nine, kidnapped thirty six and wounded hundreds. The American armed forces, who were present, videoed the attack, but did nothing else. They did not object during the attack or after. They did not make a public statement about what they had witnessed. They did not release the videos they had taken.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when asked at a press conference in Washington DC, the day after the attack on Camp Ashraf about the attack the day before, said:

    "And although the U.S. Government remains engaged and concerned about this issue, it is a matter now for the Government of Iraq to resolve in accordance with its laws."

The United States, elsewhere in the world, condemns violations of human rights. It should do no less in Iraq when the violations occur in front of its own armed forces.

I expect and hope that the US would take note of and censure grave violations of the human rights of the residents of Camp Ashraf. But now that is not happening. We have to find others in the international community who are able and willing to do what the United States is not doing.

I came from Canada this morning. Tomorrow I intend to go to Geneva where I hope to meet with officials from the Red Cross and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to ask if they could send observers immediately to Camp Ashraf. I would hope that observers would be present in the Camp and not, like the Americans, outside.

Because the Iraqi police have attacked the residents of Camp Ashraf with impunity, an international presence is necessary to put a brake on their cruelty. An international presence, which can report publicly and objectively on what is happening in the Camp, will, I believe, serve to restrain the behaviour of the Iraqi police.

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