Dear Foreign Minister, Dear Ambassador,
I am proud that on the verge of the Security Council session on Iraq on 11 November, I am presenting you the report of the International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ), non-profit organization based in Brussels that enjoys the support of 4000 parliamentarians on both sides of the Atlantic. This report covers the issue of Iranian refugees at Camp Liberty, Iraq, in-between two Council sessions and urges immediate measures by the Security Council for provision of safety and security to camp residents. This report is based on the news, on accurate and daily reports from Camp Liberty, on testimonies of residents that have left the camp and transferred out of Iraq, as well as the reports prepared by the United Nations and other sources.
In a deadly attack on 29 October, twenty-four residents were killed and many were injured while large sections of Camp Liberty were devastated. Camp Liberty is situated in a completely protected zone near Baghdad International Airport and the site of deployment of U.S. forces.
The site where from the rockets were launched against the camp is 3 km away from Camp Liberty. This area is under the control of forces tasked to protect Baghdad, the airport and the Green Zone and thus reaching this location is simply impossible without support and acquiescence from Iraqi security and military forces.
The Ashraf file and subsequently that of Liberty since the security of these camps was transferred to the Iraqi authorities has been in the hands of Faleh Fayyadh, the national security advisor to the Government of Iraq (GoI) who is a known element of Iranian regime. Fayyad and Camp Liberty’s management appointed by him receive their orders from the Iranian Quds Force and they have been involved in the seven massacres conducted against Ashraf and Liberty. Thirty-two prominent U.S. personalities from four administrations that have been mostly involved in national security wrote on October 6 to Undersecretary of State Anthony Blinken that “Faleh Fayyadh, is a proven Iran supporter and ally of Quds Force Commander Major General Qassim Suleimani. Meanwhile, daily on-site authority of Camp Liberty is conducted by the same Iraqi Intelligence Officers who were involved in the Ashraf massacres. We can conceive of no practical considerations that would render these circumstances acceptable to the United States.”
This attack was preventable. The Iranian regime and its agents in Iraq have been planning it for a long time. Residents had numerously warned the United States and the United Nations of the probability of such an attack, but their warnings went unheard. The transfer of Intelligence and Quds Force agents to Camp Liberty in September under the pretext of residents’ families was part of the machination to pave the way for this attack and we wrote about it in detail to U.S. State Department and UN officials.
The attack on 29 October raised a wave of condemnation internationally that urged providing security to the residents, as well as iden
tifying and punishing the perpetrators and hastening residents’ resettlement. Amnesty international emphasized: “utter failure to investigate previous deadly attacks against the camp sends the message that its residents can be murdered with impunity.” But the GoI has shown no interest in providing the minimum security to the residents or in preventing similar previous attacks and investigating the last one. To the contrary, since the day of the attack, the Government of Iraq has intensified the siege on the camp and it is 10 days now that it has obstructed entry of food, medicine, fuel and basic needs and is even preventing removal of sewage from the camp. This is a project coordinated by the Iranian regime against Camp Liberty aiming to the physical elimination of the residents.
It is interesting that since the 29 October attack, UNAMI and UNHCR have disrupted their daily visits to the camp and the U.S. Embassy has neither conducted any visit to the camp at all. They state that they are not allowed to go to the camp on security grounds!
Since the beginning of the resettlement project in mid-2011, around 900 residents have been resettled. If we include those that are being transferred to Albania as well, the total number will reach 1100 by early 2016. All resettlement expenses, including transfer, accommodation and living expenses, are paid by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). According to technical assessments, the expenses for transferring each group of 200 residents and supporting them for a period of one year amount to $3.6 million. Although PMOI declared in 2014 that it is unabl
e to incur the costs of further resettlements without selling the residents’ property in Ashraf, it managed to shoulder the resettlement expenses of another 480 people in 2015 albeit through great endeavour. But this trend is no longer supportable. Contrary to its promises to the United States and the United Nations, Government of Iraq (GoI) has not allowed even $1 of the residents’ property to be sold; neither has it compensated the residents for that confiscated property.
Meanwhile, Camp Liberty, that is officially designated a Temporary Transit Location (TTL), is now entering its fifth year while two thirds of the residents have not been resettled. By UNHCR standards, a TTL is a place for just a short stop. This designation is meaningless given that all residents have been interviewed by UNHCR and considered people of concern. Camp Liberty should be designated a refugee camp by any yardstick.
The 29 October massacre shocked the Iranian diaspora and generated an astounding solidarity with Liberty residents and has become a gauge to tell friend from foe. Iranians consider the inaction by the U.S. and UN as the principal reason for this tragedy and they expect this indifference and inaction to end.
In view of the above, we call on the Security Council to:
1. Commend Albania for its generous acceptance of a large number of the residents, encourage that country to grant asylum to more residents, and call on other countries to give political, security and economic assistance to Albania for this purpose.
2. Obligate the GoI to facilitate the sale of residents’ property in Ashraf or otherwise compensate them for that property.
3. Obligate the GoI to end its obstruction regarding a number of security matters to prevent further tragedies such as the return of T-walls to the camp, permitting construction of buildings in Liberty, transfer of residents’ helmets, protective vests, and medical equipment from Ashraf to Camp Liberty.
4. Obligate the GoI to take away Liberty’s file and management from criminals affiliated with the Iranian regime and give it to impartial officials that have not been involved in previous atrocities against the residents.
5. Demand UNHCR and the GoI to designate Liberty a refugee camp under UNHCR supervision and to recognize residents as refugees.
6. Obligate the GoI to end the prison-like condition in Liberty, respect residents’ freedom of movement, and completely annul the siege on the camp, especially its medical blockade.
7. Obligate the GoI to provide the camp with urgent needs to normalize its functioning conditions following the missile attack, such as providing loaders, bulldozers and other machinery to clean up the camp and transfer destroyed trailers and the like, to facilitate the replacement of damaged trailers, electric generators and other equipment with similar items from Ashraf, and to bring in needed parts for repair of vehicles and the like.
8. Form an impartial investigative commission to investigate the seven massacres perpetrated against the residents, especially the 1 September 2013 and the 29 October 2015 slaughters, as well as the 7-year siege on Ashraf and Liberty, and to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of these atrocities.
President of International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ)
Former Vice-President of the European Parliament (1999-2014)
Link to the full report