Senior House Members Press U.S. Envoy over Protection of Camp Ashraf, Demand Release of 36 Iranian Dissidents

14 09 2009

Contact: US Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents, Majid Roshan, +1-202-640-1947

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — At a hearing on September 10, senior members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, voiced outrage over a July attack by Iraqi forces against Camp Ashraf, where 3,400 Iranian refugees reside. Christopher Hill, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq was testifying.

Committee Chair Howard Berman (D-CA) had already expressed deep concerns over the assault in a July 29 joint statement with the Committee Ranking Republican, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

Congresswomen Ros-Lehtinen told Ambassador Hill: “I’m concerned about Iraqi actions being undertaken at the behest of the Iranian regime with respect to Ashraf.” She then asked about specific measures to ensure rights of Ashraf residents and to prevent their forcible return to Iran.

Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) pointed out that the 36 abducted residents of Ashraf are still in captivity “even though an Iraqi judge has ordered these individuals to be released.”

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) referred to the 1,000 women in Ashraf and said that there is no excuse for attacking the residents.

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) asked Ambassador Hill to “take back with you to the Iraqi government that there are senior members of the United States Congress that are watching what they’re doing.”

Representative Bob Inglis (R-SC) called the attack a violation of the Geneva Conventions and called for “pressure on the Iraqis to act in a humane way and consistent with the conventions.”

Ambassador Hill told the lawmakers, “We have made it very clear to the Iraqi government . . . that we are interested in the well being of these people, we’re interested in the preservation of their human rights, we’re interested in the fact that they should not be forcibly repatriated to Iran.”

The U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents welcomes Ambassador Hill’s acknowledgement that exercise of “sovereignty of should not come at the expense of human rights or repatriation.”

However, echoing the demands raised in an open letter to President Obama by two dozen Iranian-American communities, the Committee calls on the United States, in particular the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, to undertake practical measures to secure the release of 36 abducted residents.

It also urges the U.S. to take the lead in facilitating the stationing of a permanent United Nations monitoring post at Ashraf.

SOURCE U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents



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