Letter to UN Security Council Members on Iraq / Camp Liberty

15 February 2016

Honourable Members of the UN Security Council

RE: Iraq / Camp Liberty

 

Dear Minister, Dear Ambassador,120218125444-camp-liberty-baghdad-story-top

On the eve of Security Council deliberations on Iraq, I would like to draw your esteemed attention to the perilous and vulnerable plight of Camp Liberty residents near Baghdad International Airport where 2000 members of the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) reside and to request binding decisions by the Security Council on this matter.

Security of the residents

While a UNHCR report indicates that just one-third of the residents has been resettled and around 2000 are still living in Camp Liberty, the minimum security provisions for the residents have not been provided following the October 29, 2015 massacre in this camp. In that attack, twenty-four residents were killed and a significant section of Camp Liberty was destroyed.

During this period, endeavours by the residents and their representatives for the return of the protective concrete T-walls for the containers only led to the return of 1000 T-walls (a mere 6% of the T-walls available) with the transfer of the remaining T-walls halted by orders from Faleh al-Fayyadh, the National Security Advisor who is a left-over from the Nuri al-Maliki’s government. During the stationing of Americans in this camp, the containers which currently house the residents were protected by no less than 17,500 T-walls.

Iraqi forces also obstructed the transfer of residents’ protective gear such as helmets and protective vests from Ashraf to Camp Liberty. Moreover, relocating of small 2×2m concrete bunkers from destroyed sections of the camp to other sections where people have been cramped has also been prevented.

On 25 January 2016, in a collective letter to the Special Representative of Secretary-General for Iraq Mr. Ján Kubiš, the residents wrote, “Earlier, on 11 January 2016, the crackdown committee stopped the process of installing protective blast walls and relocating concrete bunkers from the camp’s destroyed areas to new locations where the residents have no shelters. All these developments, especially the transfer of Iranian regime agents to Liberty’s gate, leave us in no doubt that Faleh al-Fayyadh is continuously pursuing the demands of the Iranian regime in imposing psychological torture, crackdown and killings against us”.

On January 11, 2016, a group of residents wrote to SRSG Ján Kubiš:

“We are the residents of Section 5 in Camp Liberty. We are writing to you to express our concern regarding the halt of the process of installing T-walls in the camp. The dining room in Section 5 was on the list to receive T-walls on its perimeters. But, due to the rain and the soft ground around the dining room, the machinery postponed their work until the ground was dry.

“Today, without prior notice, we realized that the management committee of the camp had ordered the contractors to stop their work and move their machinery outside the camp. It is quite clear for you that the purpose of halting the process of installing the T-walls is nothing but to leave us absolutely defenseless in future missile attacks. Needless to say that in previous missile attacks, we lost a number of our friends and some were injured.

“It goes without saying that the Iranian regime plans to kill as many of us as possible. Based on your humanitarian responsibility as well as your responsibility regarding the security and protection of the lives of the residents, we urge you to make sure the process of installing the T-walls continue.”

All this is unfolding despite many reports indicating the intention of the Iranian regime to carry out further attacks on Camp Liberty. The Iranian regime’s Secretary of Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani claimed on February 9, 2016: “Countries that today talk about the threat of ISIS in the region and the need to confront it militarily are constantly supporting terrorist grouplets such as the PMOI and participate in their meetings… The claws of justice shall never leave alone the terrorists, even in their morphed shapes, and shall punish them anywhere in the world.”

In between the two Security Council sessions, Tehran continued with the dispatch of its mercenaries to Camp Liberty under the pretext of residents’ families. The representative of the residents wrote in a letter to the High Commissioner on November 22, 2015:

Today, for the third consecutive day, the agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and the Quds Force who function under the guise of families of the residents have been transferred to Camp Liberty. They have been placed in a location closer to the place of the residents where they have an overview on the camp. Their objective is to collect more accurate information for future attacks on the one hand, instigating and creating commotion and bloodletting to set the stage for further attacks on the other.

“These agents who have been dispatched to Baghdad by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) from Iran, have been transferred to camp Liberty by Iraqi security forces and officials of the committee to suppress the residents at the Iraq’s Prime Ministry, specifically Colonel Sadeq Mohammed Kadhim and Major Ahmed Khozair.”

As ISJ President,wrote to the Secretary-General on 21 November 2015:

“Since yesterday, 20 November 2015, again a group of Iranian regime agents, under the pretext of families of the residents, have come to Camp Liberty’s gates and are chanting slogans and psychologically harassing the residents. They are taking photos and films from inside the camp which has a very dangerous message for the residents. Our experience of the past several years in Ashraf and Liberty, indicates that this is a prelude for yet another large scale massacre. These agents were taken to Camp Liberty by the Iraqi security forces while in the past seven years not even a single real family member, including hundreds with EU or US citizenships, have succeeded in obtaining a visa for Iraq from the Iraq embassies in different countries to visit their loved ones in Camp Liberty, despite repeated request…

“In several letters in September, we warned about the presence of these hirelings in front of Camp Liberty and called for a condemnation of these suspicious actions. But regrettably our calls went unheeded. Those shameful acts were part of the necessary steps to prepare the October 29 massacre where the Iranian regime, with the assistance of its Iraqi proxies, rained down missiles on Camp Liberty killing 24, wounding scores, and destroying a large part of the camp.”

Mr. Struan Stevenson, former President of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-2014) and currently the President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA), wrote on this same subject to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on 21 November 2015:

“In fact what we have seen on repeated occasions is that these MOIS/IRGC agents use this cover to undertake detailed reconnaissance of the camp, which always precedes a carefully targeted rocket attack and massacre as we witnessed on 29th October. This is an appalling subterfuge, which UNAMI allows to happen right under its nose. The fact that it is happening again so soon after the 29th October massacre is surely a sign that the pusillanimous reaction from the UN, EU and US has encouraged the Iraqi government and their Iranian sponsors to strike again.”

On 25 January 2016, Camp Liberty residents wrote in their letter to SRSG:

Colonel Sadeq Mohammed Kadhem and Major Ahmed Khozeir from the Prime Ministry Committee, tasked with imposing oppressive measures against us, this morning transferred a number of the abovementioned agents, passed them through various checkpoints, entered them to the Baghdad International Airport area, and stationed them at Liberty’s gate. These individuals were accompanied by a number of elements from the Iranian regime embassy in Baghdad. The moment they reached Liberty’s gates they began chanting and threatening the residents, and also started taking pictures from inside the camp to complete the reconnaissance necessary for their future mission.”

In another development, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) statement of November 27, 2015:

On Thursday, 26 November 2015, agents of the Governmental Committee tasked to suppress Camp Liberty residents headed by Faleh Fayyaz, Iraq’s National Security Advisor, installed new cameras around the place of residence of Liberty residents. The purpose for theses cameras whose output will be passed on to the Iranian regime embassy in Baghdad and the terrorist Qods Force is for more accurate reconnaissance of the camp and the movement of residents in order to inflict more casualties in future missile attacks. After the last deadly attack, the antihuman regime was looking to collect information on the hit locations of the missiles, the names of the wounded, and the destroyed facilities.”

 

Resettlement

UNHCR stipulates in its “Update No. 13” on December 14, 2015:

  • By the end of 2015, more than 1,100 residents will have been relocated to a situation of safety in third countries. This represents more than a third of the residents registered by UNHCR. By the beginning of 2016, it is expected that fewer than 1,970 residents will remain in the TTL.
  • The situation with relocations is at its most buoyant since efforts began. Almost half of all relocations have taken place in the latter half of 2015. These outcomes have been achieved with the cooperation and flexibility of the residents who have proceeded with the relocation process despite difficult circumstances, including rocket attacks on 29 October 2015 which resulted in the deaths of 24 residents and injuries to dozens of others.
  • UNHCR strongly condemned the rocket attacks; the High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, stating: “This is a most deplorable act, and I am greatly concerned at the harm that has been inflicted on those living at Camp Liberty. Every effort must continue to be made for the injured and to identify and bring to account those responsible.
  • ….
  • Central to the recent success is the residents’ commitment to meeting the bulk of costs associated with relocations to Albania. This commitment to meet travel costs and living expenses is crucial to the ongoing implementation of solutions for the group.

In 2016, so far (February 15), 42 residents have been transferred to Albania. Endeavours to expedite this process are under way and we hope with the support of the Security Council this process would be ensured.

A fundamental problem in the process of resettlement is the financial aspect. As stated in the UNHCR report, PMOI and the residents have paid all resettlement expenses, including transfer, residence and living expenses in Albania, for the entirety of 2015. UNHCR has only shouldered the cost of transfer of around 20% of the residents in 2015. Had the Iraqi government allowed the PMOI and the residents to sell their property in Ashraf that amounts to $550 million or had they been reimbursed for it, they could have easily shouldered the resettlement expenses for all residents and could have even expedited the resettlement. Regrettably, however, the Iraqi government refrains from doing so. The Security Council can help by calling on the Iraqi government to recognize the sale of this property as a basic right of the residents.

 

Camp Management and continuing restrictions

The agents of the governmental committee tasked to suppress Camp Liberty residents continue with their restrictive and suppressive measures targeting residents. Camp Liberty file is overseen by Faleh al-Fayyadh, Iraq’s National Security Advisor, and the Camp’s affairs are managed by Sadeq Mohammed Kadhim; both directly involved in the massacre of the residents in Ashraf.

NCRI Statement of November 11, 2015 states: “The Governmental Committee tasked to suppress Camp Liberty residents prevented entry of fuel, generator engine oil, and material needed to waterproof damaged trailers’ roofs on Tuesday, November 10. Similarly, yesterday, vehicles rented by residents to discharge black water tanks were not allowed into the camp. These antihuman measures are being implemented by the suppression committee under Faleh Fayyad, Iraq’s national security advisor, to intensify Liberty’s blockade that initiated on October 29 in tandem with the missile attack.

“Now, two weeks after the missile attack, the governmental suppression committee continues to obstruct entry of residents’ basic needs and the minimum requirements to repair and rebuild the camp, including the construction machinery necessary to collect and clean the debris, to transfer demolished trailers and voluminous wreckages, and to relocate bunkers and fallen T-walls.”

And the NCRI statement of 24 December 2015 reads: “On December 20 and 23, 2015, agents of this committee returned items bought by residents for the repair of damaged trailers such as nylon, fabric, wood glue, carpet glue, silicone sealant for waterproofing the roofs of trailers, paint, nails, screws, metal cut-off wheels, and welding electrodes. They are also barring entry of supplies such as bicycle parts and insecticides.”

The U.S. Congress ratified a bill last year on 25 November 2015 that was later signed and became law by President Obama which stipulates:

It is the sense of Congress that the United States should—

(1) take prompt and appropriate steps in accordance with international agreements to promote the physical security and protect of residents of Camp Liberty, Iraq;

(2) urge the Government of Iraq to uphold its commitments to the United States to ensure the safety and well-being of those living in Camp Liberty;

(3) urge the Government of Iraq to ensure continued and reliable access to food, clean water, medical assistance, electricity and other energy needs, and any other equipment and supplies necessary to sustain the residents during periods of attack or siege by external forces;

(4) oppose the extradition of Camp Liberty residents to Iran;

(5) assist the international community in implementing a plan to provide for the safe, secure, and permanent relocation of Camp Liberty residents, including a detailed outline of steps that would need to be taken by recipient countries, the United States, the Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Camp residents to relocate residents to other countries;

(6) encourage continued close cooperation between the residents of Camp Liberty and the authorities in the relocation process; and

(7) assist the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in expediting the ongoing resettlement of all residents of Camp Liberty to safe locations outside Iraq.

 

Excellencies,

In view of the above, consistent with international conventions, bilateral agreements signed between the residents and the MNF-I led by the United States, and in view of the U.S. law adopted on 25 November 2015, I am urging the February 16 session of UN Security Council to adopt binding decisions on the security and wellbeing of Camp Liberty residents, including:

  • The Security Council should commend Albania for its generosity in accepting a large number of residents and encourage this country to accept all Camp Liberty residents while offering this country the necessary political, security and economic assistance in this regard. Moreover, the Security Council should encourage other European countries to admit more residents;
  • The Security Council should obligate Iraq to facilitate the sale of residents’ property in Ashraf or have Government of Iraq reimburse the residents for that property so that they can finance and accelerate the resettlement process;
  • The Security Council needs to obligate Government of Iraq to provide the necessary provisions for security and protection of Camp Liberty and to have the file of Liberty and its management removed from Faleh al-Fayyadh and Colonel Sadeq Mohammed Kadhim and see to it that impartial people not previously involved in previous crimes against the residents take over these tasks and ensure provision of the minimum security requirements such as the return of all T-walls;
  • The United States and coalition forces should provide and ensure the aerial protection of Camp Liberty;
  • Camp Liberty ought to be recognized as a refugee camp under UNHCR supervision and residents should be recognized as refugees;
  • The Security Council should obligate Government of Iraq to terminate the restrictive conditions imposed on Camp Liberty; end the siege on the camp, particularly its medical blockade; and give the residents free access to purchase all their necessities;
  • By convening an impartial international delegation, the seven massacres of residents in Ashraf and Liberty, especially the September 1, 2013 massacre in Ashraf and the October 29, 2015 slaughter in Camp Liberty, and the 7-year siege of Ashraf and Liberty, should be investigated and the perpetrators of these atrocities should be identified and brought to justice.

 

Sincerely,

Alejo Vidal-Quadras

President, International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ)
Former Vice President of the European Parliament (1999-2014)

 

About ISJ:

International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ) was initially formed in 2008 as an informal group of EU parliamentarians to seek justice for the Iranian democratic opposition. In 2014 it was registered as a non-profit NGO in Brussels expanding its membership beyond elected parliamentarians to former officials and other dignitaries with an interest to promote human rights, freedom, democracy, peace and stability. ISJ’s campaigns have enjoyed the support of over 4000 parliamentarians on both sides of the Atlantic.

President: Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of European Parliament (1999-2014)

Board of Advisors: Patrick Kennedy, Congressman (1995-2011); Günter Verheugen, Vice President of EU Commission (2004-2010); Nicole Fontaine, President of European Parliament (1999-2002); General Hugh Shelton, Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff (1997-2001); David Kilgour, Canadian Secretary of State (1997-2003); Ingrid Betancourt ; Prof. Raymond Tanter, President of Iran Policy Committee, Washington D.C.; Prof. Horst Teltschik, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference (1999-2008); Colonel Wesley Martin, Antiterrorism/Force Protection Officer of all Coalition forces in Iraq (2005-2007); Senator Lucio Malan, Quaestor of Italian Senate; Alessandro Pagano MP, President of Committee of Italian Parliamentarians  for a Free Iran; Antonio Razzi Secretary of Italian Senate Foreign Affairs Committee; Gérard Deprez MEP, Chair Friends of a Free Iran intergroup European Parliament; Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice President of European Parliament; Tunne Kelam, Member of European Parliament; Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, Co – chairman of British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, former independent reviewer of UK terrorism legislations; Lord Clarke of Hampstead CBE, Former Chairman of UK Labour Party;  Lord Maginnis of Drumglass; Lord Dholakia OBE, Deputy Leader of Liberal Democrats in House of Lords