Release the 36 abducted residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq – EP Vice President

5 10 2009

Press Release, For immediate release, October 2, 2009
“Release the 36 abducted residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq”
I learnt with utter disbelief that yesterday afternoon 36 residents of Camp Ashraf who were abducted on July 28 by Iraqi forces and held since then as hostages in the city of Khalis prison, were brutally attacked, beaten and then transferred by force to an undisclosed location. According to reports from the scene, the abductees were badly beaten, dragged on the ground and thrown into police vehicles while they were unconscious.

This inhuman attack on the hostages took place after an Iraqi court ordered their release in a definitive verdict on September 27 acquitting them of all charges. The same court had previously ordered their release on August 23rd and September 17th.

According to Iraqi law, the third verdict cannot be appealed and the continued detention of the 36 after September 27 is unlawful. Iraq’s chief prosecutor, Ghadanfar Hamoud, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he had “issued a blanket order for police to release 36 members of an Iranian opposition group who were detained during a raid on their camp in northern Iraq in July… (The detainees) should have been released by now … We have issued orders to all police stations to release them wherever they are.” The judge in the city of Khalis court told AFP news agency on September 29: “I released them; I said that they should go back to Camp Ashraf.”

Simultaneous with these outrageous offenses, Ali Larijani, Iranian parliament speaker said: “I hope the cooperation between the two countries will help improve the situation in the region so that the terrorist hypocrites (derogatory term used by the regime for the PMOI) will not have a presence in the region.”

The detainees who are “Protected Persons” were detained on no grounds and are held illegally only to blackmail the Ashraf residents. Based on any norms, the arrests are considered arbitrary. The assailant forces did not have any arrest warrants and did not know their names. Furthermore, none of them were arrested while committing a crime.

Their lawyers are not permitted to travel to Iraq to meet them so they have no means to defend themselves. They have been on hunger strike for 67 days in protest against their illegal detentions and could face death any moment. The Iraqi Government will be held fully accountable for such tragedy.

Prior to the taking over of the responsibility of protection of Camp Ashraf  from the American forces, the Iraqi Government made written pledges to the U.S. Government that it will treat the Ashraf residents humanely based on the international law and standards. Their actions do not match their pledges.

This is a catastrophe for American forces and all the members of the coalition. The U.S. has disarmed all Ashraf residents and has signed agreements with every one of them including the 36 hostages pledging to protect them until final determination of their status, but now they are being left defenceless in face of violent treatments.

In the honour of thousands of coalition soldiers who died for Iraq in the past six years; for the sake of the U.S. pledge to protect Ashraf residents that includes the 36 hostages; and considering that the Iraqi Government has broken all its promises to the Americans to treat Ashraf residents humanely according to international norms; I call on the government and the President of the United States to rise up to their responsibilities and work for the release of the hostages and do not allow real Iranian democrats die of injustice in jails of a country we helped to free.  If such crimes are taking place now in the presence of 130,000 US soldiers, what will happen to Iraqi nationals when these forces leave?

What has taken place since last July in Ashraf shows clearly that the Iraqi government has no respect for international conventions, no respect for its own laws, and no regard to Iraq’s judiciary. This government will ignore all values just to please Tehran. This provides the best proof that Iraqi forces do not qualify to take over the protection of Ashraf. This is an additional reason to deploy a UN monitoring team to Ashraf, and to enforce guarantees by the American forces for protection of Ashraf residents.

Silence and inaction of our governments regarding the current tragedy against the Iranian opposition in Iraq is shocking. Thus we call on the European Union and all member states, parliaments and NGOs to support the rights of Ashraf residents. Supporting Ashraf means supporting human rights, rule of law, and support for democratic values.

I know the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran very well. I visited Camp Ashraf in October 2008. I have personally experienced their commitment to democracy and I have full confidence that they will stand by their democratic aspirations and pay the price for it.

Alejo Vidal-Quadras
Vice President of the European Parliament
President of the International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ)


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