We are all deeply concerned about the harsh situation facing some 3500 Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf, including 60 Canadian citizens, since the Iraqi government took some clearly hostile initiatives in recent days:
- Iraqi soldiers are now stationed at three entrance of the camp and are in effect isolating the refugees, many of whom are women.
- Lawyers and of parliamentarians and human rights organizations continue to be banned from entering the camp.
- Journalists are denied access to the Ashraf camp.
- Iraqi forces assaulted and threatened to extradite camp residents to Iran
Meanwhile, Iraq's National Security Advisor al-Rubaie denied any mistreatment of Ashraf residents, even though a report by Reuters news agency quoted an official of the Iraqi Interior Ministry saying, “Iraqi troops beat residents before U.S. forces helping guard the camp stepped in’’.
In yet the latest move of what many observers consider psychological warfare on the Ashraf residents, Al-Rubaie continues to falsely refer to PMOI as a terrorist organization in the majority of countries in the world. The truth is that 27 member countries of European Union have unequivocally delisted the organization from their respective terror list. A 16-month review and the screening of each and every resident of Ashraf, the US government announced that no Ashraf resident has had any links to terrorism.
On its part, The National Council of Resistance of Iran, the coalition which includes the PMOI, many of whose members and supporters are taking refuge in Camp Ashraf, have reiterated their respect for the independence of the Iraqi government and have extended their full cooperation with it.
The majority of the Iraqi people, religious figures, politicians, intellectuals, and responsible persons across the world, from Palestine to Egypt, and from Jordan and Europe to the U.S., Canada and Australia, appear to stand in solidarity with the residents of Ashraf. Iraqi democratic and nationalist leaders have repeated that anyone who seeks the expulsion of the PMOI from Iraq does not represent the interests of Iraq.
The isolation of Camp Ashraf, combined with Al-Rubaie's above remarks and his allegation of "terrifying global propaganda machine run by the PMOI," compromises Iraq's commitment to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which obligates the Iraqi government to protect the Ashraf residents. In fact, these development could be seen as in support and following of Iranian regime, which have made no effort at hiding its intention to wipe out Camp Ashraf and its residents.
The international community must heed the warning of PMOI and many of Camp Ashraf's international supporters about the grave risks to Ashraf residents following the transfer of protection from the US forces to the Iraqi government. Failure to respond to Al-Rubaie's latest comments and the isolation of Camp Ashraf will point to a dangerous prospect and embolden the dictators of Tehran who has demonstrated time and again their willingness to impose ruthless oppression, including murder, on its dissidents.
We appeal to the governments of Canada and US to follow the lead of the 27 EU countries and de-list PMOI as a terrorist group. In addition, immediate efforts must be taken to end the siege of Camp Ashraf and restore the situation there to the pre-January 2009 situation, when the Ashraf residents were under U.S. military protection.