Ambassador Fried It is time for the Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) to move out of Camp Ashraf
Briefing on Recent Developments at Camp Ashraf
... Once at Camp Hurriya, some people may decide to return to Iran, but on a voluntary basis only. Several hundred already have in the past. Others may have citizenship or valid residency status in third countries and should be able to return to their homes promptly. Still others may qualify for refugee status under UNHCR’s mandate. The residents who relocate to Camp Hurriya will need to be considered individually. To make our own determination about any specific individual, the United States needs to know more about them, and such information can be obtained only after they move to Hurriya and participate in the UNHCR’s status determination process ...
State Department, February 08 2012
Ambassador Daniel Fried
February 7, 2012
MR. TONER: Thank you, and thanks to everyone for joining us on such relatively short notice. Appreciate it. Very happy to have here with us this morning Ambassador Dan Fried, who, as you know, has taken on the additional responsibility of being our special advisor on Camp Ashraf. And he’s here today to update us on the status of the situation at Camp Ashraf as well as some details regarding the UN’s January 31st announcement that the facilities at former Camp Liberty now meet international humanitarian standards and are ready to receive the residents of Camp Ashraf.
Just a reminder before I hand the mike to Dan, this is an on-the-record call and Dan will say a few words, and then we’ll open it up to your questions. So without further ado, Ambassador Fried.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Thanks, everyone, for joining. The U.S. has – welcomed – the U.S. has and continues to welcome and support the peaceful temporary relocation and eventual permanent resettlement of the residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq. This was the heart of Secretary Clinton’s statement on December 25th last year. Our purpose is humanitarian. We welcomed the signing of the MOU last Christmas Day between the Iraqi Government and the UN. This MOU charts a peaceful way forward.
Since the signing of that MOU, the Iraqi Government has worked to prepare a portion of former Camp Liberty, now called Camp Hurriya, to receive the first residents on a temporary basis, working in regular and close touch with the UN and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. That work has made enough progress that the UN last week confirmed that the facilities and infrastructure at Hurriya are in accordance with international humanitarian standards.
The UN recommended that the Government of Iraq and the Ashraf residents discuss details of the first move to Hurriya. Yesterday, an Iraqi representative met with the leadership of Camp Ashraf to discuss these details. The UN was present as facilitator. These discussions, according to all of our information, were businesslike and productive.
The United States welcomes this progress, and we look forward to the first residents moving from Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya in the immediate future. In any move of this kind and in the early days, once people are settling into Hurriya, problems may arise, of course. Patience, goodwill, and willingness to resolve logistical issues in a practical way will be critical. The United States, through its Embassy in Baghdad and my office, will continue to support the reasonable, prompt resolution of issues that arise, cooperating with the UN and the Iraqi Government and in contact with the residents at former Camp Ashraf and, of course, Hurriya.
The residents of Camp Ashraf must make the decision to start this relocation process. Camp Ashraf is no longer a viable home for them. They have no secure future there. On the other hand, the Government of Iraq has committed itself to the security of the people at Camp Hurriya and is aware that the United States expects it to fulfill its responsibilities.
The UN has committed itself to stationing monitors at Camp Hurriya on a round-the-clock basis. In addition, as Secretary Clinton made clear in her statement, the U.S. will visit Hurriya on a regular and frequent basis. Camp Hurriya is intended as a temporary transit facility to support the safe departure of former Camp Ashraf residents from Iraq. In this regard, while the UN and the UNHCR are doing and will continue to do their part, governments in Europe and beyond and the United States must do our part as this process unfolds.
Once at Camp Hurriya, some people may decide to return to Iran, but on a voluntary basis only. Several hundred already have in the past. Others may have citizenship or valid residency status in third countries and should be able to return to their homes promptly. Still others may qualify for refugee status under UNHCR’s mandate. The residents who relocate to Camp Hurriya will need to be considered individually. To make our own determination about any specific individual, the United States needs to know more about them, and such information can be obtained only after they move to Hurriya and participate in the UNHCR’s status determination process.
In short, it is time for the MEK to make the decision to start the move out of Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty-Hurriya from where they can begin new lives outside of Iraq. A peaceful solution, no matter what the circumstances, is the only acceptable solution, but it is time to move forward.
Now, with that, I’ll take your questions. And – oh, I should add that the UN head of mission in Iraq Martin Kobler and I were in Europe late last week discussing all of these issues with the European Union, with European parliamentarians, and I met separately with the French Government to discuss the way ahead. So this is an issue very much in motion.
So I’ll now take your questions.
MR. TONER: Great. Thanks, Dan. And, Operator, you can go ahead and tee up the first question.
OPERATOR: Yes, thank you. If you would like to ask a question, press *1. To withdraw your request, press *2. One moment for the first question.
The first question comes from Matthew Lee of AP. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Hey, Dan. Can I ask you what is prompting you to make this call today to tell the MEK that it’s now time? Has there been some new development where they’ve indicated they’re stalling again?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: I wouldn’t say that there’s a new development indicating stalling, but the reason I’m emphasizing this is because yesterday’s – last week’s determination by the UN that Camp Liberty was ready and yesterday’s practical discussions of the way ahead means that the time is now for the MEK to make its decision. It’s got to move forward. And it’s – all those who wish the residents of Ashraf a peaceful future outside of Iraq can help by encouraging the MEK to make the decision it needs to make.
QUESTION: Okay. But I thought – didn’t a limited number already move?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: No.
QUESTION: Or was that just an offer, that they said that some would --
AMBASSADOR FRIED: That was an offer.
QUESTION: It was an offer.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: No one has moved from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty because Camp Liberty was not yet ready to receive.
QUESTION: Oh, okay.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: So this was not a case of stalling. It was a case of the Iraqis having to get Camp Liberty up to speed. It now is. And that movement needs to start taking place.
QUESTION: All right. And who determined that it was okay, that it was habitable now? The U.S.?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: The UN. Not --
QUESTION: Not the envoy?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Now, the U.S. has looked at it also, but the determination was made by technical experts from the UNHCR. The UN issued a statement last week, which is readily available, making clear that the infrastructure and facilities are now up to speed.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Sure.
MR. TONER: Next question.
OPERATOR: And I show no further questions at this time.
MR. TONER: All right. We’ll give it a couple of seconds, but – for you to weigh in if you’ve got any additional questions.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Well, I’ll take that as a sign that my presentation was comprehensive and answered all possible questions.
MR. TONER: Very good. Operator, last chance for our contestants.
OPERATOR: We have a question from Ian Duncan*. Go ahead.
MR. TONER: Right.
QUESTION: Hi, there. I’m calling from the LA Times. I just wondered to what extent the FTO designation hinders the U.S. role in the process and if there are any plans to change that designation.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: My office is not part of the FTO designation process. Obviously, I’m aware that that is a decision which the Secretary will make. We are – our interest in a humanitarian solution for the people at Camp Ashraf is quite independent of that decision. And we are able to move forward even now without that decision having been made.
QUESTION: Okay. Thanks very much.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Next question comes from Andrew Quinn with Reuters. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi. I have a couple of quick questions. One was: I was wondering if there has been any agreement on the process of moving people. I understand that there was some dispute over whether or not they’d be able to take their own vehicles, how they would get from Ashraf to Liberty. Do you know if that has actually been resolved and how they would get from A to B?
And the second question is: Earlier – last month, actually – and Mrs. Rajavi gave a speech in Paris where she said that the United States would hold full responsibility for all Ashraf members – for the safety of Ashraf members while they’re in Iraq. Is that a responsibility that the United States is now willing to accept, given the status of Camp Liberty? Thank you.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: First, the issue of the organization of the convoys was, I understand, discussed yesterday in some detail between the Iraqi Government representative and the Camp Ashraf leadership. I also understand that some good progress was made. And that – we welcome that. We welcome that.
With respect to the U.S. responsibility, Iraq is a sovereign country. Iraq has the responsibility for the exercise of that sovereignty, and they know that a peaceful solution is the only acceptable one. The U.S. is not the sovereign in Iraq. We are doing our best, and we are committed to trying to support a peaceful relocation of the people at Ashraf over to Camp – old Camp Liberty, and then support the UNHR efforts to get them out of Camp Liberty and out of Iraq. We’re going to try our best.
The responsibility for the next decision rests with the MEK. They need – the Iraqi Government has done, so far, what it committed to do; that is, it’s got Camp Liberty up to speed. The MEK and the residents of Ashraf, for their part, held a constructive set of discussions yesterday, and we welcome that. And now the decision has to be theirs to start this process and to work with all of us so that the shared objective, shared by all the sides in this – the UN, the Iraqi Government, the people at Camp Ashraf – for a peaceful solution. And the departure of these people from Iraq is up to them. A peaceful solution is at hand, but they’ve got to take it.
MR. TONER: Great. Any more questions?
OPERATOR: There are no further questions at this time.
MR. TONER: Okay. Well, we’ll take that for a sign that you’re all fully briefed on this. Anyway, thank you very much, all of you, for joining us today. And thanks to Ambassador Fried for also taking time.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: All right. Well, thanks a lot, everybody. And I’ll keep – I’ll – we can do this again when the news justifies it.
MR. TONER: Great. Thanks, all.
Camp New Iraq (formerly Camp Ashraf) residents and the determination of their refugee status claims*
... UNHCR has been for some time and remains ready to undertake verification andrefugee status adjudication for the residents of Camp New Iraq (formerly Camp Ashraf) who are persons of concern. It has mobilized teams on the ground, and has put in place the necessary soft and hard ware support capabilities. Individual interviews will need to take place in a safe, neutral and confidential location. UNHCR attaches utmost importance to peaceful solutions being found, including that any relocation outside Camp New Iraq proceed on a voluntary basis, with freedom of movement the most desirable state at the site of relocation ...
UNHCR, February 01 2012
• UNHCR has been for some time and remains ready to undertake verification andrefugee status adjudication for the residents of Camp New Iraq (formerly Camp Ashraf) who are persons of concern. It has mobilized teams on the ground, and has put in place the necessary soft and hard ware support capabilities. Individual interviews will need to take place in a safe, neutral and confidential location.
• The stipulation of the Government of Iraq remains that these processes take place outside Camp New Iraq, in the new location which is being provisioned to enable the residents voluntarily to move there and to stay on a temporary basis in safe and decent conditions. UNHCR has been advising on the technicalities of improving the camp infrastructure.
• UNHCR attaches utmost importance to peaceful solutions being found, including that any relocation outside Camp New Iraq proceed on a voluntary basis, with freedom of movement the most desirable state at the site of relocation.
• UNHCR is currently looking at how to expedite verification and RSD processing so as to enable it to be done on an individual basis fairly, fully but also speedily, in the interests of gaining time against tight deadlines.
• Camp residents who have submitted requests for refugee status are formally asylum seekers under international law whose claims require adjudication. In the absence of a national system of adjudication in Iraq, UNHCR will consider these requests on an individual basis in a fair and efficient procedure. Each individual case will be judged on its merits and in accordance with international law.
• International law requires that asylum-seekers must be able to benefit from basic protection of their security and well-being. This includes protection against any expulsion or return to the frontiers of territories where their lives or freedom would be
threatened (the non-refoulement principle).
• UNHCR, together with the Government of Iraq, UNAMI and other concerned actors, remains committed to finding solutions to this long-standing problem, including resettlement and/or relocation to third countries.
1 February 2012
* This document will be updated as needed.
UN certifies that new camp for Iranian exiles meets international standards
(aka; Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK)
... This brings us a step further in ensuring that proper conditions are in place for voluntary relocation of Camp New Iraq residents.” UN monitors are ready to start round-the-clock human rights monitoring during the transport of residents from Camp New Iraq, as well as on their arrival at Camp Liberty, currently built to accommodate 5,500 people. UNHCR is also ready to start refugee status determination as soon as residents start arriving in the new camp, according to a press release issued by UNAMI. The Iraqi Government will organize the modalities of transporting people from Camp New Iraq to Camp Liberty and ...
UN News Centre, February 01 2012
Special Representative Martin Kobler. UN Photo/Bikem Ekberzade
31 January 2012 –
The UN and the Iraqi Government on 25 December signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the voluntary relocation of several thousand Iranian exiles living in Camp New Iraq, previously known as Camp Ashraf, in the north-eastern part of the country.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said arrangements for the relocation of Camp New Iraq residents to the new Camp Liberty are progressing after it was confirmed that the facilities and the infrastructure had met international humanitarian standards.
“I am grateful to the UNHCR and the human rights team for their expertise,” said Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq. “This brings us a step further in ensuring that proper conditions are in place for voluntary relocation of Camp New Iraq residents.”
UN monitors are ready to start round-the-clock human rights monitoring during the transport of residents from Camp New Iraq, as well as on their arrival at Camp Liberty, currently built to accommodate 5,500 people. UNHCR is also ready to start refugee status determination as soon as residents start arriving in the new camp, according to a press release issued by UNAMI.
The Iraqi Government will organize the modalities of transporting people from Camp New Iraq to Camp Liberty and other relevant issues with the residents. The UN stands ready to facilitate those efforts if requested, Mr. Kobler said.
“It is important that [the] MoU is implemented in letter and spirit,” he added, noting that the agreement “stands only for a peaceful solution and a voluntary relocation of Camp New Iraq residents.”
“The United Nations’ consistent position is that a violent outcome is unacceptable. The MoU paves the way for UNHCR to conduct the verification and refugee status determination (RSD) processes, which is a necessary first step to resettle the residents in other countries and enjoy their freedom and liberty,” he said.
“Member States have a crucial role in helping to resolve the situation of Camp New Iraq residents and I do urge them again to accept residents in their countries. This is a critical contribution to the humanitarian solution we are all seeking,” Mr. Kobler added.
Situated in the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala, Camp New Iraq camp houses several thousand members of a group known as the People’s Mojahedeen of Iran.
UN calls on Iraq to prepare to move Iran exiles
AFP, February 01 2012
BAGHDAD — The UN called on Iraq on Tuesday to organise the transport of Iranian dissidents to a new location within the country, citing progress towards the implementation of a December deal on the exiles.
Under the December 25 agreement, around 3,400 Iranians hostile to the regime in Tehran will be moved from Camp Ashraf to a new location called Camp Liberty, as part of a process that aims to see them resettled outside Iraq.
"It is now time for the Government of Iraq to organise the modalities of the transport from (Camp Ashraf) to Camp Liberty and other relevant issues with the residents," the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in the statement, as "further steps have been achieved" toward the deal's implementation.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UNAMI Human Rights Office "confirmed that the infrastructure and facilities at Camp Liberty are in accordance with the international humanitarian standards" as required by the deal, it said.
"Additionally, UN monitors are ready to start round-the-clock human rights monitoring during the transport of residents from (Camp Ashraf) as well as upon their arrival at Camp Liberty," it said.
"UNHCR is also ready to commence the refugee status determination as soon as residents start arriving to the camp" -- a necessary step before they can be resettled in other countries.
Now executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein allowed the rebel People's Mujahedeen to set up Camp Ashraf during his regime's 1980-88 war with Iran.
When Saddam was overthrown in the US-led invasion of 2003, the camp came under US military protection, but American forces handed over security responsibilities for the site to the Baghdad authorities in January 2009.
The camp has been back in the spotlight since a controversial April raid by Iraqi security forces left at least 34 people dead and scores injured
Warning: Mojahedin Khalq (MEK, MKO, Rajavi cult) to overshadow families' gathering
... The MKO takes action to overshadow the gatherings held by families of Ashraf residents in front of the Camp. The MKO has begun to contact families and to promise them a fake private visit. During the past two years of families’ picketing in front of Camp Ashraf, the MKO has never been able to rationalize for members why it never let them visit their families. Today, it attempts to diminish families’ presence in front of Ashraf. In order to get rid of their current problems, MKO leaders use this deceitful ploy. Families picketing at the Camp gates should be cautious about such sort of tricks used by the group ...
Nejat Bloggers, January 28 2012
The MKO takes action to overshadow the gatherings held by families of Ashraf residents in front of the Camp.
Regarding the deadline announced for its expulsion from Iraq, the terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization finds no way to prolong its stay in Iraq although it enjoys the support of US and European sponsors and it makes too many efforts in the international community. The most disastrous problem the MKO faces now is the demand of families picketing in front of Ashraf gates.
They want to visit their family member held in Ashraf in a private uncontrolled atmosphere.
The MKO has begun to contact families and to promise them a fake private visit.
During the past two years of families’ picketing in front of Camp Ashraf, the MKO has never been able to rationalize for members why it never let them visit their families. Today, it attempts to diminish families’ presence in front of Ashraf. In order to get rid of their current problems, MKO leaders use this deceitful ploy. Families picketing at the Camp gates should be cautious about such sort of tricks used by the group.
Open Letter from Sahar Family Foundation to Martin Kobler
... He directly threatened members of his cult that during interviews they should not say or write anything but their names and the period they have been in Ashraf garrison, and should not mention anything about wishing to leave the base of the cult since this would produce severe consequences for them. In his lengthy speech, Rajavi tried to frighten people against any and every possible UN action and emphasized that they would gain no benefit from the UN interviews and the UN intervention and it could even harm them. He told them that if they do anything except what he has asked ...
Sahar Family Foundation, Baghdad, January 05 2012
Sahar Family Foundation has written a letter to the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Mr Martin Kobler, regarding the latest developments at the base of the Rajavi cult in Iraq.
The text of the letter is below:
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)
Mr Martin Kobler,
With kind respects and best wishes for your task regarding the issue of the inhabitants of Camp New Iraq (formerly Ashraf garrison), we would like to inform you of the following:
According to information gained from inside Ashraf garrison, Massoud Rajavi arranged a video conference with Ashraf inhabitants towards the end of September 2011. Participation in this session was mandatory for all cult members residing in Ashraf. In this conference, which lasted for 8 continuous hours, Rajavi tried to prepare his followers for the possible UN interviews beforehand.
He directly threatened members of his cult that during interviews they should not say or write anything but their names and the period they have been in Ashraf garrison, and should not mention anything about wishing to leave the base of the cult since this would produce severe consequences for them.
In his lengthy speech, Rajavi tried to frighten people against any and every possible UN action and emphasized that they would gain no benefit from the UN interviews and the UN intervention and it could even harm them. He told them that if they do anything except what he has asked them to do they would be arrested and handed over to the Iranian regime where they would be tortured and executed.
During his speech, Rajavi said that the Iraqi government, the EU, the UN, the ICRC and any other agency cannot make any decisions and the US is the only agency that makes all the decisions. In this respect he tried to give hope to his followers that with the US administration’s approval, the conditions that the organization used to enjoy under Saddam Hussein would be reinstated.
The information received from Ashraf garrison also indicates that all members have been put on a state of alert against the Iraqi forces and specific plans have been made in this regard. These plans are mainly defensive but some plans for ambushing the Iraqi forces and disarming them have also been made. The members are told that after disarming the Iraqi forces they should hand over the captured weapons to their superiors and wait to be told what to do next. It should be mentioned that during the April clash with the Iraqi forces some weapons were seized from Iraqi soldiers which are still being held by the Rajavi cult.
There has also been news that the leaders of the cult are actively seeking another clash with the Iraqi forces in order to eliminate some of their discontented members as they did in previous cases. This has been done several times in the MeK cult before. During the invasion of Iraq by allied forces in 2003, the leaders of the Rajavi cult murdered some of those who wanted to leave and later announced that they had been killed during the bombardments. In the following years as more dissidents fled Ashraf garrison it was revealed that of the over 50 persons that the MeK claimed were killed as the result of the bombardments, a maximum number of 5 had actually been killed in this way and the rest were eliminated by the cult itself.
What we would specifically like to draw your attention to is that inside Ashraf garrison the brainwashing sessions called “current operations” are proceeding with intensity. The reason for these delays and time-killing by the leaders of the cult and preventing the UN from carrying out its tasks is that they want to identify those who are potential deserters and also to mentally prepare their members for the interviews.
We therefore on behalf of the suffering families, who are the only right representatives of the inhabitants of the garrison and are truly following their best interests, urge you to adopt the following means.
- Arrange for the hundreds of families of members, who have been picketing outside the garrison for nearly two years and merely request to visit their loved ones which the leaders of the cult have denied, to visit the inhabitants during the transfer and interview process.
- Make sure that such meetings are carried out without the presence of the MeK officials. It is necessary for the International Red Cross and preferably the next of kin of interviewees to be present in order to gain the rapport and trust of the asylum seekers.
- Pass adequate information about their actual situation to these people since they have been away from the real world for many years and have no clue whatsoever about the circumstances outside the cult. Their only source of knowledge has been the cult leaders, so they must be well informed beforehand.
As before, Sahar Family Foundation declares its readiness for all possible cooperation. We would like to share all our resources in any appropriate way with the international organizations in order to reach a quick and peaceful solution for the dilemma of Ashraf garrison.
Sahar Family Foundation
Baghdad, 3 January 2012
Mr. Daniel Fried, U.S. Special Adviser on Camp Ashraf
Mr. Jean de-Ruyt, EU foreign policy adviser on Camp Ashraf
The achievements of two years of picketing by the families
(Rajavi is a hostage taker, Rajavi is nobody's representative)
... Today it is clear to everyone that the leaders of the Rajavi cult like all similar cults anywhere in the world which use destructive mind control methods do not see themselves bound by their words or their signatures. It is now clear that they are more than anything else afraid that their forces (hostages) would run away during this transfer. Sooner or later, Rajavi will have to give up Ashraf garrison - which is situated on land illegally and forcefully confiscated by his benefactor Saddam Hussein where he built a military base which he later gifted to the Mojahedin Khalq. Sooner or later he will have to face the fact that the members will be deported from Iraq ...
Sahar Family Foundation, Baghdad, December 31, 2011
translated by Iran Interlink
link to the original (Persian)
As you know, an agreement has been struck between UNAMI, the Iraqi Government and the leaders of the Mojahedin Khalq Organisation according to which the camp should be evacuated by the end of year 2011.
Also, according to this agreement the deportation of Mojahedin Khalq will be delayed by another 6 months in which time the UNHCR would be able to register the residents and carry out individual interviews in preparation to transfer them to other countries.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding, an initial 400 of the residents of Camp Ashraf are to be transferred to the former American Camp Liberty adjacent to Baghdad Airport, but to this day, 30th December 2011, the leaders of the Rajavi cult have rejected the planned transfer by bringing all sorts of reasons and excuses, clearly against the agreements accepted by the other two parties involved (UNAMI and the GOI).
Today it is clear to everyone that the leaders of the Rajavi cult like all similar cults anywhere in the world which use destructive mind control methods do not see themselves bound by their words or their signatures. It is now clear that they are more than anything else afraid that their forces (hostages) would run away during this transfer. Sooner or later, Rajavi will have to give up Ashraf garrison - which is situated on land illegally and forcefully confiscated by his benefactor Saddam Hussein where he built a military base which he later gifted to the Mojahedin Khalq. Sooner or later he will have to face the fact that the members will be deported from Iraq.
It is worth mentioning the continuous hard work of the families of the people trapped inside the camp who have stayed by the camp for the last two years and demanded their human rights from their base, which they call Freedom City, built adjacent to Camp Ashraf. They exposed the lies of Rajavi and they proved that the leader of the Mojahedin Khalq cult has no respect whatsoever for the people and the loved ones taken hostage inside the camp.
It is now clear to everyone that it is the fathers, mothers, children and spouses of the trapped people who represent the best interest of the hostages and not the leaders of the cult.
The agreement between all parties to sort out the problem of Camp Ashraf could not have been achieved without the hard work and the suffering of these families, especially during the last two years. They have worked flat out for the last two years in Freedom City, adjacent to Camp Ashraf for two years and intend to do so for as long as it takes. It is clear that even after the transfer of Rajavi's hostages to a new location, the families will not rest until they achieve their minimum demand of private visits with their loved ones. The hope of reaching this goal is now greater and nearer than ever and the number of families is continually increasing in number. They have all decided to finish the quest that began two years ago and to not give up until they have achieved their simple humanitarian demand of 'Right of Visits' with their captured relatives.
SFF on behalf of the picketing families would like to extend its appreciation to all the survivors and ex-members, as well as human rights activists in Iraq, Iran and other countries who have been aiding and supporting the families and helping their voices be heard in the world.
With the hope that one day soon the goal of the freedom of every one of our loved ones takes the tiredness of all these years off our bodies.
Ashraf residents transfer, Families gathering
... A large number of families of Camp Ashraf residents gathered in front of the Camp, this morning, reported Nejat Society representative. Families of Ashraf prisoners chanted slogans to once more announce their call to visit their loved ones. Local and foreign reporters are present in there in order to broadcast the news of the region. As it was also reported 100 residents of Camp Ashraf are relocated in Camp liberty, a site near Baghdad international airport, today. Families are hopeful to see or at least get news of their children --after years of no news about them-- while they are transferred from Ashraf to Baghdad ...
Nejat Bloggers, December 27 2011
A large number of families of Camp Ashraf residents gathered in front of the Camp, this morning, reported Nejat Society representative.
Families of Ashraf prisoners chanted slogans to once more announce their call to visit their loved ones.
Local and foreign reporters are present in there in order to broadcast the news of the region.
As it was also reported 100 residents of Camp Ashraf are relocated in Camp liberty, a site near Baghdad international airport, today.
Families are hopeful to see or at least get news of their children --after years of no news about them-- while they are transferred from Ashraf to Baghdad.
During their visit to
Mojahedin-e Khalq cemetery and Camp Ashraf
victims prayed for forgiveness for their torturer
... they are standing beside the grave of their former torturer. Both men were sent to Abu Ghraib political prison by Massoud Rajavi after extensive imprisonment, isolation and torture inside the MEK’s own prisons failed to force them to submit to Rajavi. Rafi’ee Nejad frequently visited them even when they were in Abu Ghraib. They were released during the fall of Saddam in 2003. There were over 50 registered ex-MEK prisoners in Abu Ghraib at that time labelled as a group as ”Mojahedin Deposits”. Remembering the brutality of Rajavi’s torturers and prisons, both victims of Rajavi and Saddam prayed for forgiveness for their torturer ...
Iran Interlink, Camp Ashraf, Iraq, December 11 2011
The MEK cemetery was previously inaccessible as it lay inside the former boundaries of Camp Ashraf. Following the Iraqi military operation to reclaim illegally held land from the MEK in April 2011, the cemetery is now open to view and to independent investigation.
Families and former MEK members arriving at the cemetery led by Mr Hassan Azizi a veteran former member. He spent years struggling to get himself and his children out. Still later his wife also managed to escape. The family now live in the Netherlands. Mr. Azizi was part of the European delegation recently visiting Iraq and the Camp.
This is a memorial to the MEK who died in the MEK’s Operation Pearl in Iraqi Kurdistan in which Rajavi took orders from Saddam to massacre Kurdish villagers. Maryam Rajavi famously ordered her forces to run over the victims with their tanks so as not to waste bullets unnecessarily. The MEK, acting as Saddam’s Private Army, were used to viciously quell the Kurdish uprisings in the north.
In the south in 1991 the MEK were also used to suppress Shiite uprisings. This picture is a memorial to three of the top MEK commanders killed by the people of Karbala during the Shiite uprising when they took over Saddam’s Secret services HQ in the province. The bodies were never recovered. The three central graves are flanked by the graves of Neda Hassani and Sediqeh Mojaveri who died as a result of self-immolation ordered by Maryam Rajavi to protest her arrest by French anti-terrorism police at Auvers-sur-Oise in 2003.
Before the Iraqis gained control of the cemetery Rajavi had ordered that the pictures of the graves in the whole graveyard be mixed up so they do not correspond to the names on the graves. Perhaps only Rajavi can explain his motive for such a bizarre act.
The Iraqis have reported however that some of the graves have been found to contain more bodies than the single named person indicated on the headstones.
Ex members identified many graves of people who have been killed in the hands of the leaders of the organisation.
Among the graves they also found the grave of Nader Rafi’ee Nejad
The grave of Nader Rafi’ee Nejad
Nader Rafi'ee Nejad acted as a torturer for the Mojahedin-e Khalq leader Massoud Rajavi. He was a veteran member of the MEK who, along with Reza Khaksar (later killed during an armed clash in 1981) and Hassan Mohassel (a former police officer and later a guard in the MEK’s prisons in Iraq), served with the Revolutionary Court in Evin prison after the Iranian revolution.
Rafi’ee Nejad interrogated and tortured former officials of the ousted regime of Shah. Due to the MEK's pursuit of its own radical policies after 1980, Rafi'ee Nejad, Mohassel and Khaksar were later dismissed from the Revolutionary Court by the government of the Islamic Republic at that time.
After the armed struggle began in 1981, Rafi'ee Nejad fled to Europe and was appointed to the MEK’s foreign relations department. In 1985, he was introduced as a leading member and in 1991 as deputy to an executive board in the MEK. In 1990, he shed his ‘diplomatic’ suit and donned the uniform for jailors of the MEK in Iraq.
In that year, he attended a course with Iraq's intelligence and security service to undergo classic training by Iraqi interrogators.
He was involved in torturing Mohammed Hussein Sobhani and also the killing of Parviz Ahmadi who died under torture.
In recent years after the fall of Saddam, Nader Rafi’ee Nejad frequently appeared on the clandestine satellite TV station of the organisation pretending to be a legal expert, promoting the punishment of the ex-members wherever they could be found. He always referred to the cult leader’s fatwa that ‘the people who have managed to run away from the cult have to be killed…’
Two of the victims who have been directly tortured by Nader Rafi’ee Nejad are Mohammad Hussein Sobhani and Ali Ghashghavi. In the picture above, they are standing beside the grave of their former torturer. Both men were sent to Abu Ghraib political prison by Massoud Rajavi after extensive imprisonment, isolation and torture inside the MEK’s own prisons failed to force them to submit to Rajavi. Rafi’ee Nejad frequently visited them even when they were in Abu Ghraib. They were released during the fall of Saddam in 2003. There were over 50 registered ex-MEK prisoners in Abu Ghraib at that time labelled as a group as ”Mojahedin Deposits”.
Remembering the brutality of Rajavi’s torturers and prisons, both victims of Rajavi and Saddam prayed for forgiveness for their torturer.
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 ...
Iran Interlink, Baghdad, November 25 2011
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.