.Report on Baghdad Conference - Terrorist MEK to be expelled from Iraq
Report on Baghdad Conference
Terrorist MEK to be expelled from Iraq
... Mr Adnan Al-Shahmani, head of the Parliamentary Committee to oversee the expulsion of the MEK announced in the Conference that the deadline would not be extended and that the camp will be closed by the end of the year. He also explained that the Iraqi Judiciary had issued its final verdict that the camp should be closed... Mr Al- Shahmani also criticized the West for its silence toward the crimes committed by the group against civilians, and asked international communities not to remain silent in the case of the abuse of the rights of the families of the victims of the MEK ...
A Conference in Baghdad University on Friday 25 November was organised by Al-Edalat Al-Iraqi Society, headed by Dr Nafe Al-Isa, which represents the families of 25,000 Iraqi victims of the MEK.
The Conference was held in Al-Hakim Conference Centre in Baghdad University and hundreds of tribal leaders, University lecturers, Governmental representatives and officials, NGOs and media representatives filled the salon. Although Camp Ashraf and the MEK is an issue specific to the government and citizens of Iraq, the Conference organisers made sure to invite Western agencies, such as the UN, EU and diplomats who have claimed or expressed an interest in Camp Ashraf. Unfortunately, however, any such invitees were apparently unable to leave the Green Zone to attend the Conference and talk to the delegates.
Opening the Conference, Dr Nafe, speaking on behalf of the families of victims of MEK violence, asked that those MEK leaders who were responsible for this violence be brought to justice before their deportation.
Speakers from the government and NGOs all emphasized that the deadline for deportation must be strictly adhered to and that Iraqi and international law against terrorism and crime must be upheld. Other speakers, in particular the tribal leaders spoke about the MEK’s crimes which they have witnessed in recent years in Diyala province. They were highly critical of the failure of the American military to dismantle the camp after 2003, and were scathing of the continued American backing which allowed the camp to be used for training and inciting terrorism against Iraqis.
On this theme, Jasem Al- Ebadi, Member of Parliament and member of the parliamentary Human Rights Commission used his speech to criticise EU efforts to keep the terrorist group intact and their opposition to the deportation process. He commented that if they are so in love with this terrorist group, why don't they take them to their own countries?
(Mr. Al- Shahmani, MP)
Mr Adnan Al-Shahmani, head of the Parliamentary Committee to oversee the expulsion of the MEK announced in the Conference that the deadline would not be extended and that the camp will be closed by the end of the year. He also explained that the Iraqi Judiciary had issued its final verdict that the camp should be closed and the land handed back to the original owners.
Mr Al- Shahmani also criticized the West for its silence toward the crimes committed by the group against civilians, and asked international communities not to remain silent in the case of the abuse of the rights of the families of the victims of the MEK.
(Mr. Al- Shahmani, meeting families)
Mr Al-Shahmani also met with the representatives of the families of hostages inside Camp Ashraf and the delegation from European countries who are campaigning to ensure a peaceful outcome to the standoff at the camp.
Massoud Khodabandeh, from Middle East Strategy Consultants which is working with the Iraqi government to resolve the situation at Camp Ashraf, introduced his book ‘The Life of Camp Ashraf – Mojahedin-e Khalq Victims of Many Masters’ to the Conference. The book places the MEK in the context of its foreign ownership and concludes that these owners have invested heavily in the MEK’s ability to commit acts of violence and terrorism, and that this is the reason for western resistance to closing the camp. The book particularly highlights the MEK’s refusal to allow residents of the camp to have contact with their immediate families as a fundamental human rights abuse of every person in the camp.
Ms Abdollahi represented the families and asked for help to release the hostages (including her own son) from the camp. Ms Abdollahi reminded the Conference that the families’ struggle to find their relatives had been going on since 2003 and that a permanent picket had been established two years ago. She stressed that when searching for a solution the families of course have the security and safety of all the residents as their utmost priority. The families have the simplest and easily granted request – to visit their loved ones who are in the camp. This does not depend on the removal of the MEK from Iraq and would be simple to do. The only barrier to this request is the order of the MEK leaders Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. They can easily resolve this issue by ordering that the families of MEK members be allowed to have free and unfettered contact with their loved ones.
Ms Sanjabi is an ex-member of the MEK’s women only Leadership Council. She managed to escape from Camp Ashraf very recently, and explained the dire situation of the women inside the camp, detailing disturbing and shocking human rights abuses which are currently being carried out against the residents by the MEK leaders.
Ms Mahdian, whose husband is a hostage inside the camp, explained how Saddam’s Intelligence services gave her husband to the MEK as a slave, even though he had been and is still a registered POW, captured at the start of the Iran-Iraq war. Ms Mahdian explained that her son has not seen his father for the past 25 years and the MEK would not allow this visit even after two years of picketing.
Mr Sadeghi from Germany, who is one of the few members who managed to run away from the camp successfully during the time of Saddam Hussein, presented and explained evidence of recent MEK interference in the internal affairs of Iraq, their collaboration with Saddamists and other terrorist groups, and the MEK’s active role in intensifying the insurgency.
Mr Ghashghavi also from Germany, served eight years without trial in Saddam’s prisons including Abu Ghraib for refusing to carry out Massoud Rajavi’s orders to commit criminal acts. Mr Ghashghavi explained how Rajavi and Saddam would force people to either kill others or be sent to the torture chambers themselves and be killed.
(Mr. Ezati and Ms. Sanjabi)
Another ex-MEK member, Mr Ezati who now lives in the Netherlands, gave interviews to the media explaining the situation inside the camp and the constant abuse of human rights of the victims. Mr Ezati strongly criticized the unfortunate media silence over these human rights abuses which he ascribed to the pervasive influence of the MEK’s powerful backers who regard the MEK as “good terrorists”.
Tens of ex-MEK members who work with Nejat Association in Iran, also attended the Conference and were interviewed by the media. They explained that Nejat Association, which works closely with the families of the hostages, now has the capacity to help those survivors who wish to do so, to go back to their country under the amnesty which was granted by the Iranian authorities in 2003 (which is based on the understanding that the MEK members have been subjected to the coercion and control of cult leaders) and which to date has been upheld under the supervision of the ICRC.
Conference attendees were particularly interested in the testimony of three recently escaped camp residents who gave full and detailed explanations to the media about the harsh reality of being a captive inside Camp Ashraf. They spoke about the total information blackout and social and emotional isolation they experienced there. They emphasized that the leaders and the hostage takers lie constantly to the residents so that the captives have no idea about the outside world. They are made to believe that the MEK leaders are directly supported by the Americans and that if they tried to escape the camp they would be immediately shot, or now, after being tortured by the Iraqis they would be handed over to Iran to be executed without trial. They said that if they were given the true facts and information, there is not one person in the camp who would still want to stay in the desert of Iraq nearly nine years after disarmament. They urged international organizations, especially the US representatives and UNAMI, who are the only organizations with close relations with the hostage takers, to take advantage of their weekly meetings inside Camp Ashraf with the hostage takers, to persuade them to open up the flow of information and convince them to give people the right to family visits as well as normal means of communication such as writing and telephones, etc.
These recently escaped hostages also urged UNAMI not to present the hostage takers as the representatives of the hostages in the media outputs. Instead they should be clear that Rajavi is no one’s representative and as long as the negotiators have not met with the hostages without the presence of the MEK commanders - the hostage takers - outside the camp, they have no right to claim anything on their behalf. They said they believe that UNAMI and the American backers of the cult are in breach of international law for siding with the terrorists as these are people who have abused the human rights of over 3000 people for decades. The survivors of Camp Ashraf are now taking legal advice to claim compensation for their suffering and losses from the MEK leaders.
Diyala Governor: Human Rights, Deporting MEK, Imposing the Laws, non negotiable
... Massoud Khodabandeh heading the delegation thanked the Government of Iraq and asked the Governor of Diyala and the General to help inform the people trapped inside about their rights and to counter the lies given to them by the hostage takers and cult leaders. Ms Abdollahi on behalf of the families asked for help and for care to be taken when dismantling the camp to institute particular safeguards to protect the relatives of the picketing families. Ms Sanjabi, (formerly a member of the MEK Leadership Council), who managed to escape some months ago, explained ...
A meeting was held on Monday 21 November between officials of the Diyala province and family representatives of the people trapped in Camp Ashraf.
The Governor of Diyala, Dr Abdul–Nasser Al-Mahdwe stated clearly that:
1- There will be no compromise on the decision to deport the MEK.
2 - There will be no compromise on imposing national and international laws
3 - There will be no compromise on respect for human rights laws and agreements and therefore they will not be forcefully returned to Iran.
He said that the overall decisions will rest with central government but as far as Diyala is concerned there is no room for the MKO anywhere inside the province. This has been announced repeatedly by practically all the leaders of tribes and local officials. Dr Al-Mahdwe dismissed completely the MEK propaganda in which they claim they have some support and said that to claim, after what they have done, that the MEK have even a small percentage of support in the province is simply a lie and is purely fictitious.
General Abdol Amir Al-Zeidi, is the commander of the regional army and responsible for the protection of the camp. He said that he has met many escapees from the camp. The last one was a woman who had to drag herself out and crawl for about half a kilometer before reaching the Iraqis. He said the leaders are the problem not the trapped people and if given order we are prepared to transfer them out of the camp with the utmost dignity and care and respect for their wellbeing. He said this can be checked by reporters and human rights organisation who wish to observe the operation.
The General said that in the event they receive the order to evacuate the camp, they will try their utmost to stop the leaders killing the hostages and the disaffected members as they did before. According to the General most of the people who were killed in April 2011 were in opposition to the leadership and had been shot in the heart or in the head. But the leaders tried to cover up such facts even though the evidence is unequivocal. He said reports will be handed over to the authorities to deal with the cases of murder of these people at the hands of the hostage takers.
Massoud Khodabandeh heading the delegation thanked the Government of Iraq and asked the Governor of Diyala and the General to help inform the people trapped inside about their rights and to counter the lies given to them by the hostage takers and cult leaders.
Ms Abdollahi on behalf of the families asked for help and for care to be taken when dismantling the camp to institute particular safeguards to protect the relatives of the picketing families.
Ms Sanjabi, (formerly a member of the MEK Leadership Council), who managed to escape some months ago, explained the latest developments inside the camp and gave some ideas about how the leaders may try to plan and execute violent resistance.
Mr and Mrs Mohammady from Canada who have been trying since before 2003 to rescue their daughter from the camp, presented some documents including copies of the arrest warrants for some leading members of the MKO inside the camp which the General received and promised to follow up.
Other delegation members including Mr. Azizi a Human rights activist from Netherlands Mr Sadeghi, one of the few people who managed to escaped from the camp during the time of Saddam Hussein, Mr Ghashghavi who spent years in Abu Ghraib, where he was sent by Rajavi, Mr. Ferydouni who managed to escape a few weeks ago and Ms Mahdian whose husband, a registered POW, is trapped inside the camp also participated in the meeting.
Press and media were present and the Governor and the General gave a media briefing following the meeting which was broadcast live through official and national media.
UN must tread carefully in dealing with Camp Ashraf
... The Government of Iraq is very clear that it is dealing with the phenomenon of a dangerous, destructive mind control cult. Unfortunately, Western agencies do not appear to have got to grips with this fundamental aspect of the group and as such continue to fall under the spell of the MEK leaders and their unearthly and insatiable demands. It would be unfortunate in the extreme if the UNHCR did not understand during all its negotiations with the group’s front personnel that Massoud Rajavi does not represent anyone but himself and his own interests. Cult experts warn that the MEK are not seriously offering to allow the UNHCR ...
As the Mojahedin-e Khalq (aka; MEK, MKO) is painfully slowly being nudged toward compliance with both international and Iraqi law over its activities inside Camp Ashraf in Iraq, cult experts warn that external agencies must be wary of falling foul of cultic manipulation techniques as the group struggles to maintain its hold over the 3400 Iranians trapped inside.
Efforts over the summer by US Ambassador Lawrence Butler to convince the MEK leader Massoud Rajavi that he would have to act on the Government of Iraq’s deadline to leave Iraq by the end of 2011, yielded little progress. MEK front personnel still refused to allow any residents to be interviewed by UNHCR staff without MEK minders being present. Then by the end of September Vincent Cochetel, a Washington representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that an agreement had been reached through the MKO’s legal counsel in London for individual screening for refugee status with the UNHCR offering an alternative location near Ashraf for those who have been processed.
Maryam Rajavi immediately qualified this news from her HQ in France with the Farsi language diktat: “… we will not allow the line of the mercenaries Maliki and Barezani and the strategy of their masters, the Iranian regime, to prevail under the pretext of interviewing people one by one and …” and she continued “… all the Mojahedin members should only be taken for interviews using helicopters …” – which meant that in order to interview the people trapped in the camp she expected the US to fly over seven thousand helicopter sorties.
Such statements are plainly silly and we should not imagine that either Massoud or Maryam Rajavi expect anyone to take them seriously. They are meant first and foremost for internal consumption and as a time wasting exercise. Such a stance is reminiscent of the time when the MEK’s London lawyers announced in English that the group had given up armed struggle in order to be removed from the UK and EU terrorism lists. At the same time Rajavi told her followers in Farsi that as soon as the MEK was de-listed the Americans would re-arm them and they could continue with their violent activities.
The latest salvo from the MEK’s armoury of lies and deception was introduced in the form of an MEK claim that over seventy Iraqi MPs have called for the UNHCR to open an office inside Camp Ashraf and take over control of the camp from the Iraqi government. This comes at the same time that Alsumeria News has reported that a British parliamentary group headed by Baroness Nicholson is discussing with a visiting Iraqi parliamentary delegation headed by Mr. Alnajifi to find way to actually get access to the inside of the camp.
On the surface the MEK offer to allow the UNHCR into the camp might look like cooperation and progress. But in the light of the MEK’s past behaviour the agencies involved in the issue of Camp Ashraf would be wise to view this latest stance with deep suspicion. In the book ‘The Life of Camp Ashraf – Mojahedin-e Khalq Victims of Many Masters’ published by Iran-Interlink in September, we warn that “the MEK loyalists will continue to resist and try to provoke violence to prevent any interference in the internal affairs of the camp… The MEK has an armoury of defensive tactics with which to prevent such interference. The obvious one is to meet all attempts to enter the camp with violent, suicidal resistance. But the MEK system is also supremely manipulative as the American army discovered in 2003. Certainly both MEK cult experts and recently escaped residents will be needed to identify loyal cult leaders and activists. These experts will also be able to identify and challenge the MEK’s manipulative techniques which would otherwise be effective in deceiving less experienced agencies – no matter how well meaning.”
The Government of Iraq is very clear that it is dealing with the phenomenon of a dangerous, destructive mind control cult. Unfortunately, Western agencies do not appear to have got to grips with this fundamental aspect of the group and as such continue to fall under the spell of the MEK leaders and their unearthly and insatiable demands. It would be unfortunate in the extreme if the UNHCR did not understand during all its negotiations with the group’s front personnel that Massoud Rajavi does not represent anyone but himself and his own interests.
Cult experts warn that the MEK are not seriously offering to allow the UNHCR to open an office inside Camp Ashraf in order to conduct individual screening and processing with a view to removing the residents. The most the MEK could hope for is that the UN will, for any reason, raise its flag over the camp beside or in place of the Iraqi flag which is currently there.
Raising the UNHCR flag over the camp over which the Iraqis themselves have no jurisdiction would of course be extremely provocative, a challenge to the rule of law and cause conflict between external agencies and the Iraqi security forces. Exactly the kind of scenario which the MEK would love to create so the MEK leader continues with impunity to occupy the camp and hold hostages there.
The MEK effort is to create conflict and prevent change to the status quo. If anyone is in any doubt of this they must be made aware that at the same time this so-called offer is on the table, Rajavi’s special forces have manufactured a specialised missile launcher with which they fire stones at the families on the periphery of the camp >>> Persian Translation
Warning and an appeal to the international community
... Massoud and Maryam Rajavi have ordered all the leaders of the MEK to arrange meetings for everybody and give the order to them that “We will go along with the American army to the point that there is no physical interaction but when it comes to the Iraqi government we will become physical and we will make them pay the highest price.”Considering what the Rajavis have said, although we believe that the imposition of Iraqi sovereignty over this illegally occupied territory at this time is an indisputable right of the government of Iraq, we urge the government ...
We are approaching the end of year 2011; the deadline announced by the Iraqi government to evacuate Camp Ashraf. Over the past few months the USG’s diplomatic representative in Iraq Mr. Lawrence Butler has met seven times with the leaders of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organisation in the garrison to talk about the future of the group. His efforts have failed due to the stubborn resistance and rejection on the part of the Mojahedin-e Khalq. Some European countries have also have attempted to start a dialogue with the leaders of the group to convince them to allow the people inside to be sent individually to other countries under the supervision of the United Nations. But their efforts have also faced absolute intransigence on the part of the leaders of the group.
In addition, we have witnessed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealing to the international community to help the Iraqi government in this case. But no meaningful action has been offered.
The Government of the United States of America also in a clear and transparent way has warned the leaders in the camp that if they do not respond positively to the suggestions put forward, then the USG will no longer be able to act as a negotiator and that the consequences of such action would be entirely attributable to the leaders of the Mojahedin-e Khalq
The people inside the camp are described as “non status” and they are not accepted as refugees or even asylum seekers. The Iraqi government is adamant it will carry out the decision to close the camp - which is one of the last remains of the Saddam regime - and on the other hand the leaders of the Mojahedin inside the camp insist on keeping the status quo without any logical, legitimate, legal or other reasons.
And in this situation, as advocates of human rights and as ex-members of this organisation, we are deeply concerned about how this camp will be dismantled and especially about the misuse of the people inside the camp by the leaders of the group.
According to witnesses inside camp Ashraf it is said that Massoud and Maryam Rajavi have ordered all the leaders of the MEK to arrange meetings for everybody and give the order to them that “We will go along with the American army to the point that there is no physical interaction but when it comes to the Iraqi government we will become physical and we will make them pay the highest price.”
Considering what the Rajavis have said, although we believe that the imposition of Iraqi sovereignty over this illegally occupied territory at this time is an indisputable right of the government of Iraq, we urge the government and the committee in charge of dismantlement of the camp to try, as they have done over the last past 8 years, to only use non-violent solutions to solve this problem.
Although we know that the existence of this camp in this country of Iraq has no logical or legal basis but we are concerned that the heads of the MEK cult will use the 3400+ people stranded there as human shields to pursue their illogical and illegal demands.
We are deeply concerned that, according to much evidence and many documents, not least the report by the RAND Institute, about 70% of the people inside the camp are kept there against their will, and if we add to this their loss of hope due to the grim and uncertain future they face, the lack of access to media and information and the resulting ignorance this brings, and the existence of never ending barriers and security provisions across the camp, if we add all these then the reasons behind the existence of such an isolated island can become clear.
We are deeply concerned that in a situation where the dismantlement of the camp has begun, the leader of the group would force the low level members and the ordinary people trapped inside to fight the security and law enforcement agencies of Iraq.
On top of our concern over the human rights as an indisputable right for every individual inside the camp we remind you that many of the signatories of this letter have a family member, father, mother, spouse, sibling or friend inside the camp as a hostage. Therefore the primary aim of the MEK in keeping the members trapped inside is nothing except using them as a tool and human shield to save the neck of the leader Massoud Rajavi who remains in Iraq.
We warn that considering that the leaders of the group have already rejected the intervention of the Americans and insist on the relocation of the whole organisation as a group to another country, while it is clear that according to international law, asylum can only be given to individuals, the leaders are placing this kind of suggestion on the table only to further reject any non-violent solution and therefore exploit the members and endanger their lives.
We must warn the international community and humanitarian organisations across the globe, time is running out. And we are witnessing that the US proposal is the only feasible and realistic solution during the remaining time. Therefore while we condemn the leaders of the group for their lack of cooperation with the American and Iraqi officials, we warn that the responsibility for any resistance to the decision of the Iraqi government and endangering the lives of the people is primarily on the shoulders of Massoud Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi and the other high ranking leaders of the group.
We also believe that dialogue can be the solution to dismantle camp Ashraf and there should be no need for violence. We ask the leaders of the group to stop their ridiculous behaviour and obduracy and return to the dialogue and negotiation table
The government of Iraq has repeatedly announced that, respecting international humanitarian laws, these people will not be deported to countries where they may face problems and it has shown its commitment to this day. Accommodating and facilitating the voluntary exit from the camp of nearly 100 individuals who have given themselves up to the Iraqi forces from 2009 to the present is clear evidence of this commitment.
Therefore we ask the international community and humanitarian organisations and all the people who are worried about the future of these people to use whatever communication and/or other tools at their disposal to convince the leaders of the group that after the fall of Saddam Hussein Iraq is no longer a place for them to stay and it is their responsibility to seek assistance from international bodies such as the ICRC and UNHCR to get themselves out of there.
We the signatories of this letter would like to bring this issue to the attention of the following:
- The office of the Prime Minister of Iraq (Committee in charge of dismantlement of Camp Ashraf, Baghdad) - Lady Catherine Ashton and relevant MEPs in European Parliament - US State Department - Human Rights Watch, New York - Amnesty International, London - United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Ms Navi Pilay, Geneva
Open Letter to Catherine Ashton on behalf of the families of Rajavi’s hostages in Camp Ashraf
... Families wish first and foremost to remind you that they are part of the solution, not the problem. You have demonstrated your particular interest in this issue by appointing Mr Jean De Ruyt, a former Belgian ambassador to the EU, as your advisor on Camp Ashraf. He will no doubt be investigating and examining whatever approaches are available to resolve the situation. By situation I refer to the standoff between the constitutional and legal demand of the elected government of the sovereign nation of Iraq, and the illegal and irrational demands of a cult leader as the hostage taker who represents nobody but his own interests and who is prepared to kill others to this end ...
It is interesting and entirely predictable that at the same time you replied to Iran that the six major powers - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia - are willing to meet within weeks if Iran is prepared to "engage seriously in meaningful discussions" over concerns about its nuclear programme, we have seen a flurry of activity by the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to skew perceptions of the issue with misinformation and self-aggrandising propaganda.
Paid MEK activists held yet another demonstration in front of the White House on Saturday with the irrelevant demand that the US government remove the MEK from its terrorism list. In Brussels Maryam Rajavi, wife of the MEK’s leader, was given a platform to promote terrorism in the European Parliament. Conflating the totally irrelevant issue of Camp Ashraf in Iraq with the problems posed by Iran’s nuclear programme and the MEK’s terrorist listing in the US, she was given a platform to verbally attack and insult Iraqis and their elected government from a parliamentary building.
The MEK is certainly highly proficient in advertising itself as a tool for anti-Iran elements to use and it is unfortunate that Europe’s corridors of power are being so casually exploited to promote Washington’s favourite terrorists. The intended signal is that Europe will brandish a stick to open negotiations with Iran over the nuclear issue. Does the European Commission represent European interests in this respect or do you represent the agenda of only the extreme right wings of USA and Israeli politics?
But as much as we believe this is against your interests, these are political issues and we do not wish to take any position in this respect. Our first and foremost concern is that you do not allow the issue of Camp Ashraf and its sick and aging population to be used as a political football for everyone to kick around for their own game.
It has been reported that Mrs Rajavi conveyed her thanks to you for taking the side of the MEK against the government of Iraq. If this is true it is highly unfortunate that your office has been manipulated to look as though you are taking a position of backing the head of a terrorist cult instead of the victims.
Mrs Rajavi like her fugitive husband Massoud Rajavi does not represent the individuals trapped inside Camp Ashraf. The Rajavis do not represent anybody’s interests but their own.
The Government of Iraq has frequently advised representatives of the European Union not to use the MEK to push their agendas in Iraq, to the point of issuing written and verbal complaints against interference in the internal affairs of their country, including their elections, and have warned against using elements of terrorism to push their agendas. However, these political issues must be addressed in another arena by other parties. We are specifically interested that you have now taken responsibility for dealing with Camp Ashraf.
As you are aware, around 3400 Iranian individuals remain trapped in a dangerous, destructive mind control cult, the Mojahedin-e Khalq, by its leader Massoud Rajavi inside Camp Ashraf in Diayla province of Iraq.
Since the MEK was confined to and protected in the camp by the US military in 2003, Rajavi has resisted all efforts to allow any external agencies to free these individuals in a peaceful and humane manner. Rajavi is holding the residents as hostages to guarantee his safe future, to avoid prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity brought against him by the government of Iraq and the international community.
You are also aware that since February 2009, many of the families of these hostages have taken turns to stay just outside the camp in an effort to find and meet their loved ones and to prevent the MEK from further harming them. Now, as a new contingent of families from Gilan province in Iran have arrived at the camp, we are writing to you on behalf of the families of the captives of the MEK and its Western backers in Washington, London and Brussels. (Such ordinary Iranians find themselves voiceless in Western political and media circles due to the virulently anti-Iranian attitude which prevails in these circles.) They wish first and foremost to remind you that they are part of the solution, not the problem.
You have demonstrated your particular interest in this issue by appointing Mr Jean De Ruyt, a former Belgian ambassador to the EU, as your advisor on Camp Ashraf. He will no doubt be investigating and examining whatever approaches are available to resolve the situation. By situation I refer to the standoff between the constitutional and legal demand of the elected government of the sovereign nation of Iraq, and the illegal and irrational demands of a cult leader as the hostage taker who represents nobody but his own interests and who is prepared to kill others to this end.
The government of Iraq demands that the MEK leave Iraq before the end of the year, certainly before American troops are withdrawn. For this reason, there is an urgent need to find an effective solution. On two occasions, August 2009 and April 2011, when Iraqi security forces have attempted to enter the camp to impose the rule of law on the camp, Massoud Rajavi ordered his special forces, his fedayeen, to force the brainwashed residents to confront these efforts with a suicidal resistance which led to the deaths and injuries of many rank and file members as well as injuries to Iraqi security forces. Iraq is working hard to avoid a similar confrontation in future and is expecting cooperation from the international community in this respect. Soon after the second of these incidents I visited the camp and interviewed the responsible authorities and gathered enough evidence which is available for any party who would like to know. Since 2008 three reports have described the situation of the camp and two books have been written on the subject.
Mr Jean De Ruyt, who will liaise with EU states and organizations including the United Nations, says that a peaceful and realistic solution and the security and safety of residents are his priority. For this reason the families are very optimistic now that you have taken over responsibility from the Americans. With the appointment of this advisor the families now believe your office has a mandate to help Iraq, the UN and ICRC to resolve the situation as soon as possible.
The families are asking that you coordinate with the Iraqi authorities to help them to protect their relatives when the leaders are finally forced to open the gate of the camp and allow external agencies in. This is the first step before the UNHCR can take the residents out of the garrison and interview them individually without MEK minders present. It is at this time of maximum confrontation that they fear Massoud Rajavi will order the deaths of the residents.
Once the gates of the camp are finally opened safely, the residents will of course be able to access the facts and information which have been denied them for decades about their true situation and the possibilities for their future. Whatever their choices, their families are on hand to offer them protection and support. Of course, not all the families can be in Iraq at the same time, but all are willing to travel there to help their loved ones when their individual circumstances demand.
The MEK is designated as a terrorist organisation by Iraq based on its activities in their country against their citizens – the MEK has killed 25,000 Iraqi civilians over two decades. In contrast, the EU does not regard the MEK as a terrorist entity. This should make it possible for residents of Camp Ashraf – in addition to those who already have citizen or residency rights – to be brought to Europe as refugees under the auspices of the UNHCR. (Due to the peculiarities of American law, delisting the MEK in the USA would play no part whatsoever in helping the people in Camp Ashraf.)
Considering that the US military has deliberately helped the MEK to keep the gates closed and the residents trapped inside, the opportunity now exists for you to act as a go-between for the US and MEK and thus ensure that the camp is opened up at the earliest opportunity so that work can start to relocate the hostages. Certainly the government of Iraq is happy to help facilitate this outcome on the understanding that if this process is not begun by the end of the year, the international community has obliged them to take unilateral decisions regarding the camp and its residents.
Above all else, the families outside have travelled from far and wide to rescue their loved ones and are more than happy to ensure a swift and peaceful outcome. There can be no possible objection or obstacles to helping them.
Anne Singleton (Author of Saddam’s Private Army, 2003 and co-author of The Life of Camp Ashraf, 2011) Iran-Interlink MESC Ltd U.K.