More smoke and mirrors from the MEK propaganda factory - America s national integrity held to ransom by Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, Rajavi cult)
More smoke and mirrors from the MEK propaganda factory
America’s national integrity held to ransom by MEK fear mongering
(aka; Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, Rajavi cult)
... It is known that Zucker, along with his family, visited Maryam Rajavi in Paris and was sufficiently impressed by her glamorous outfits, free dinners and weasel words to become an active advocate of the MEK in America. However, Zucker’s article received a thorough retort back in 2007 from Professor Paul Sheldon Foote. Reference to the same discredited article in this report can only be done out of ignorance, stupidity or desperation. Do Zucker and his ilk really believe that through defamation they can prevent the truth from emerging. Perhaps the MEK believe this will save their necks in Washington ...
The MEK have been very keen to publicise a Library of Congress report called 'Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security: a Profile'. http://www.fas.org/irp/world/iran/mois-loc.pdf On the surface this is understandable as the MEK is the sworn enemy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, a closer look at the content reveals a murkier truth.
The report is characterised by its mixture of allegation, assertion and allusion, much of which is not substantiated by evidence. The report blends fact and fiction in a manner intended to deceive and mislead. As such, this document is not an attack, it is a defensive act, it is a play on words intended to prevent informed discussion and stop important people being listened to. Indeed, the gratuitous mention of two specific individuals, Anne Singleton and Massoud Khodabandeh, who have consistently exposed the aspects of the Mojahedin Khalq which it most wants to hide – cult nature, human rights violations, mercenary relation to foreign agents - is the strongest possible indication of the provenance of this report.
The other indication is that the source of this specific misinformation is Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker. In a footnote the article “Disinformation Campaign in Overdrive: Iran’s VEVAK in High-Gear” is sourced at Global Politician, September 3, 2007, http://www.globalpolitician.com/23386-vevak-iran (accessed April 17, 2012). Interestingly, this website can no longer be accessed.
It is known that Zucker, along with his family visited Maryam Rajavi in Paris and was sufficiently impressed by her glamorous outfits, free dinners and weasel words to become an active advocate of the MEK in America.
Reference to the same discredited article in this report can only be done out of ignorance, stupidity or desperation. Do Zucker and his ilk really believe that through defamation they can prevent the truth from emerging. Perhaps the MEK believe this will save their necks in Washington. Certainly Massoud Rajavi is deluded. He really believes that his cultic 'thought-terminating clichés' will work with everyone. In Zucker he has found a like minded person, willing to place hope over experience. But surely there are people in Washington who are not so willing to be so easily duped.
So, what is it that Rajavi and his supporters are so desperate to hide?
Part of the answer to this question lies in the recent article 'Do not Disturb - Criminals at Work in Camp Liberty' by one of the people named in the report. As time passes and the UNHRC processes the individuals in Camp Liberty for refugee status and relocation, the danger of further exposure of human rights abuses inside the MEK is becoming ever more critical for the cult. More and more exhausted and disillusioned MEK members are scheduled to come to Europe. When they are freed from Rajavi's cultic constraints what else will they reveal about the cult and its criminal activities?
While the UN is timidly tiptoeing around outside the closed door of Camp Liberty afraid to intervene for fear of being labelled an ‘agent of the Iranian regime’ only three thousand individuals are affected.
But in America the implications behind this report signal a potent threat to the national interest. Behind the self-interested motivations of the MEK and its sponsors, there lies real danger for the American establishment. The problem for America is not the fact or fiction of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry's reach into western countries. Instead, it is the reach of the internal enemies of America into its corridors of power which is truly disturbing.
Let us not forget that a similar document, mingling actual fact and unsubstantiated allegations masquerading as fact, became a central piece of evidence which was used in the legal argument to remove the MEK from the proscribed terrorism lists of both the UK and the European Union. Is this not a disturbing precedent?
Now, if Zucker and his ilk can insert this MEK written propaganda into an apparently official document for the Pentagon - an easy target of course as it is swarming with willing warmongers - will it be long before such documents reach into higher circles of power - that is, the people with America's nuclear arsenal at their fingertips. The decision making clique in a national crisis cannot afford to be swayed by either ideologically biased or un-researched information.
When MEK misinformation so blatantly reaches the Pentagon, is it too far fetched to imagine it reaching The White House? Should a crisis arise, can Americans be confident that those at the top really have well researched and balanced information on which to base their decisions or could America be heading for a catastrophic miscalculation?
The loopholes to such a possibility can and should be closed. The MEK may look like friends now, but do not think they won't turn around and bite you in the future.
(Maryam Rajavi directly ordered the massacre of Kurdish people)
Post Delisting, What Are the Mojahedin-e Khalq Up to Now?
(aka; MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
... Rajavi's veteran translator Ghorban Ali Hossein Nejad escaped Camp Liberty two months ago. He is now in Baghdad and has exposed the relationship between Rajavi and the Saddam regime. He is also helping UN, EU, U.S. and Iraqi officials by exposing the lies which the MEK are telling them. He has two daughters, one in Iran and one still in Camp Liberty. Neither he nor anyone else has been able to contact his daughter in Liberty without the presence of MEK minders. (He reports that while he was inside the MEK, he had not seen his daughter anyway for twenty years due to the enforced separation of families and friends.) Instead, the MEK brought her ...
Freed from the pretended constraints of being listed as a terrorist entity in the USA, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) has stepped up its financial and money laundering activities in Western countries. The MEK have launched a 'basij' (all-out campaign) in their financial section. Firstly, all members and supporters have been instructed to make supervised contact with their family inside or outside Iran to try to get money from them (a tactic exposed by Al Jazeera's Cult of the Chameleon documentary in 2007).
In the 'charity' street collections in Western countries (called mali-ejtemai), the theme is Camp Liberty. The public is approached and the camp in Iraq is described as a refugee camp whose inhabitants have no access to food or medicine. The public are told that around 1000 women, mostly mothers, must be urgently transferred with their children to Europe. The money donated will be used to rescue the women and children first before then rescuing the men. (Of course, since enforced celibacy was imposed in 1989 there are no children in the MEK.) Sometimes the donor is told of cases in which refugees have been killed or maimed because of the lack of law and order in Iraq. Conveniently ignoring the fact that the MEK are confined to the camp by their own leaders.
It is no secret that the MEK have been funded for years via these bogus charities as large checks and even thousands in cash have been handed over to street collectors from mystery donors. An unusually high proportion of these donors are solicitors. MEK insiders have always known that this money is coming from other benefactors.
In addition to these activities, the MEK have also tasked as many of their supporters in the West who are able to do so to open a company or create spurious associations or societies claiming to support Iranian refugees or promote Iranian culture, etc. The aim of these groups is to target charities and local councils to get money under false pretenses. Again there is an element of money laundering as this is just one more way for MEK paymasters to dive under the radar to fund the terrorist group.
A more sinister activity is the expansion of information gathering and recruitment practices among the Iranian communities. Concerned Iranians in Europe who contacted me directly report that the MEK have opened two Persian language schools in London and Paris which they say is to target the children of Iranian refugees. Through such deceptive activities the MEK gathers lists of names and addresses to demonstrate support, and also to claim that these Iranians are making financial donations. The deeper purpose is to deceptively recruit new members and also -- now that the campaign to be delisted has ended -- to keep the supporters busy with new activities. It must not be forgotten that as a cult, the MEK thrives on the unpaid 'slave' labor of its followers.
Significantly, Massoud Rajavi, the beneficiary of all the MEK's wealth, has for three decades kept his financial dealings in the hands of only a few trusted individuals. In the atmosphere of defections and disturbing questioning which currently govern internal relations in the MEK, the unexpected death of one of Rajavi's key financial personnel in the West sparks deep suspicions among experts in the MEK. This is compounded when we discover that another accidental death has taken place in Paris of one of Maryam Rajavi's inner circle. (After some high ranking defectors exposed the cult nature of the MEK, Massoud Rajavi declared that such defections would never be allowed to happen again.)
In Iraq, the situation has scarcely changed for the members except they have changed location to a UN temporary transit camp Liberty -- a move which both the Government of Iraq and UNAMI had worked for to improve their conditions. Camp Ashraf itself is finished, closed, gone, although just under 100 MEK remain there, confined to Section 209 by the Iraqi army which is now in charge of the territory. Rajavi has declared they will not move until enough money is paid -- basically the last bit of ransom he can extract from the camp.
There continue on a weekly basis to be a small number of individuals who escape Liberty, either during the UNHCR interview process or by other means, and renounce any further involvement with the MEK. Last week two men escaped, each had spent over 20 years with the MEK (one being a former POW from the Iran-Iraq war). They describe a desperate situation inside Liberty as it is being recreated in the image of Ashraf. All the cult aspects are there -- isolation, indoctrination, manipulation, fear, punishments, etc -- in addition, barriers are built to separate the bungalows (ironically, the stretchers originally demanded for medical use are being used to move earth to build dykes). 'Visas' are issued to people if they need to move between separated locations. The Iraqis are not allowed inside the camp and again have no jurisdiction there. The MEK use every opportunity to try to provoke hostility in the Iraqis by throwing stones and swearing at them, and now the UN and other neutral bodies are suffering provocation as the MEK swear at them and insult them, too.
Although the MEK's advocates and lobbyists crassly claim that Liberty is no better than a "concentration camp" -- a description which seriously riles the German born UNAMI chief Martin Kobler -- the situation is not easy for the residents, but not for the reasons they state. There is no shortage of food or water or medicine -- let us remind ourselves this is a camp created by and supervised by the UN. In a country where a 24 hour electricity and water supply are not guaranteed to normal citizens, the MEK enjoy both these facilities. What is not being said is that Massoud Rajavi has decreed that the residents must work for these 'privileges.' Inside Camp Liberty anyone who needs medicine or has other requirements must work for it, that is, they must submit and do as they are told or else they will be punished by having medicine, etc refused or withheld. Again, the MEK don't let the Iraqis approach the people inside the camp to ascertain their welfare or needs.
Since the beginning of 2012 a disturbingly disproportionate number of residents have died because Rajavi has year on year denied them proper or timely medical treatment.
Rajavi's veteran translator Ghorban Ali Hossein Nejad escaped Camp Liberty two months ago. He is now in Baghdad and has exposed the relationship between Rajavi and the Saddam regime. He is also helping UN, EU, U.S. and Iraqi officials by exposing the lies which the MEK are telling them. He has two daughters, one in Iran and one still in Camp Liberty. Neither he nor anyone else has been able to contact his daughter in Liberty without the presence of MEK minders. (He reports that while he was inside the MEK, he had not seen his daughter anyway for twenty years due to the enforced separation of families and friends.) Instead, the MEK brought her on their television channel to swear at him and her sister, claiming they are agents of the Iranian regime. Given the sensitivity of the information being passed to the officials it is possible her life is in danger. (MEK experts have observed that 'accidents' happen to dissidents in Iraq and Europe on a fairly regular basis.)
In spite of rumors that Massoud Rajavi is dead, he is very much alive and keeping tight control over his cult on a daily basis. High ranking escapees say they have seen him in the leadership compound in Camp Ashraf until very recently. According to deserters, Rajavi frequently communicates his indoctrination and messages via audio -- no visuals. But it is clear he has not been stationed in Iraq since the U.S. army handed over responsibility for the MEK in 2009. Instead, based on unconfirmed reports, I belief he moves between safe houses in Jordan associated with Saddam's family and loyal Baathists, without the express permission of the Jordanian government. From his hideout, Rajavi issues his orders. He has told the people in Iraq they should only agree to talk to members of the UN or ICRC on condition that Camp Liberty is designated as a refugee camp (it is actually a UN temporary transit camp). Rajavi has said 'if we work on it we can be accepted to move to Europe collectively, but if not we will never leave Iraq.'
Rajavi has told everyone that 'the Americans will back us to the end because they need us'. However, Rajavi also said to every member that armed struggle is an unchangeable part of the MEK ideology and every Mojahed's belief system and that this, and the logo, will never change. (In other words, don't be worried or concerned by our external propaganda, inside we will never change).
As though to prove this point, the Iraqi authorities report that the MEK are desperate to have greater connections with al Qaeda and Saddamists in Iraq and beyond. The MEK especially want new connections, since their main backer was convicted of terrorism charges and escaped Iraq. The MEK leaders are demanding greater freedom of movement to come and go and to bring people into the camp. But then the Iraqis knew all about their former connections with these groups while they were protected by the U.S., and this was why they curtailed their activities after 2009. It remains to be seen whether the delisting of this known terrorist group in the USA will have the necessary reach to reverse for its backers what appears to be the rapid and inevitable demise of the group as its members are being rescued by humanitarian agencies.
Spectacle glorifying the 31st anniversary of armed struggle on June 23 in Paris
Where does the Mojahedin-e Khalq stand now?
Mojahedin-e Khalq (aka MEK, MKO, Rajavi cult) has become an anti-Iraq force
... While the West is trying to put more and more pressure on Iran and isolate the country, the self-styled Iranian opposition has now become an Iraqi opposition with no links to Iran at all except the group of Farsi speaking former members scattered through western countries who are now suing the leaders for compensation for mistreatment in Iraq, Europe and North America. While the MEK’s paid lobbyists remain highly vocal in their attacks on the Government of Iraq (GOI) and United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), the people who still don’t have a voice are the residents inside both Camp Ashraf (aka Camp New Iraq) and Camp Liberty (aka Camp Hurriya) ...
After ten years Western anti-Iran pundits are finally waking up to the fact that the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist group cannot be used against Iran as long as it remains in Iraq. The MEK leader Massoud Rajavi, in a fight for his own survival, has now dug himself into such a deep hole there that the MEK no longer has any role in anti-Iran activities. Instead a ridiculous situation has arisen in which his wife Maryam Rajavi is using her Paris base to attack Nouri Al Maliki and the Government of Iraq. While the West is trying to put more and more pressure on Iran and isolate the country, the self-styled Iranian opposition has now become an Iraqi opposition with no links to Iran at all except the group of Farsi speaking former members scattered through western countries who are now suing the leaders for compensation for mistreatment in Iraq, Europe and North America.
While the MEK’s paid lobbyists remain highly vocal in their attacks on the Government of Iraq (GOI) and United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), the people who still don’t have a voice are the residents inside both Camp Ashraf (aka Camp New Iraq) and Temporary Transit Camp Liberty (aka Camp Hurriya). Since the relocation process began in February numerous residents have run away and taken refuge with the Iraqi authorities. They report an increasingly tense and turbulent internal situation with violent attacks and sexual assaults becoming more frequent. Families of the residents have maintained a permanent vigil outside Camp Ashraf and now Camp Liberty for two years in an attempt to gain access to their loved ones. The GOI has still not been given the go ahead to allow families access to the people transferred to Camp Liberty.
The UNHCR has begun refugee status determination interviews with individuals who have relocated to Camp Liberty. Of these, 238 residents have been formally declared refugees. To qualify they needed to renounce membership of the MEK. 1,400 more interviews are scheduled. The GOI remains adamant none of them will be able to remain in Iraq and the process is therefore ongoing. There is no reason for Europe or the US to refuse to accept those who have UN refugee status. Two-thirds of the residents, just fewer than 2,000 people, have relocated. Interestingly, among them are hundreds of people with special needs, suffering from disabilities and serious medical conditions as well as many elderly people; people whom Rajavi regards as dispensable. At least five people who were rushed to hospital with life threatening conditions after they arrived at Camp Liberty said they did not want to leave the MEK but were thrown out and told not to come back because of their illnesses. The Iraqi authorities have ensured that they have received the best treatment available.
UNAMI officials reported that the relocation of MEK from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty had stalled since the arrival of the fifth group of residents on 5 May as the MEK refused further movement. The reasoning behind the stop is Massoud Rajavi’s hope to drag the removal process out for another four months until the MEK is removed from the US FTO list and things will then change for him. He is certainly not prepared to cooperate with Secretary of State Clinton’s suggestion – repeated on 18 June - that they should show full cooperation before she reviews their FTO status –the implication being that if they voluntarily remove to the new camp this would be enough proof they have renounced violence. Instead the MEK is setting its own agenda based on the legal ruling which gave rise to Clinton’s review. Rajavi does not regard the Secretary of State as being powerful enough to need to listen to and is looking instead to his Israeli friends to protect him.
However, the Government of Iraq and the UN have said every resident of Camp Ashraf must leave Iraq and it is clear they cannot be taken off the terrorism list in this situation.
To further his agenda Rajavi is using his wife’s Paris base for an advertising campaign focusing on a rally in VillePinte, Paris on 23 June. The demand is to have the MEK taken off the US list without moving the combatants from Iraq. In addition to this 'wait it out' tactic, Rajavi is also hopeful that Al Maliki's government will fall - or even that he is assassinated - and that a new government in Iraq take a more favourable position toward his group. After the MEK’s office inside the European Parliament was closed, the MEK covertly financed two new lobbying offices outside the parliament for the use of Struan Stevenson, MEP and Alejo Vidal Quadras, MEP. Both MEPs switched from the European Parliament's Iran Delegation where they lobbied for the MEK, to the Iraq Delegation to lobby for Saddamists during the Iraqi election.
But these activities are balanced by a severe crackdown on the MEK’s activities. The GOI, UNAMI, European and US representatives, the ICRC and a large body of former members are showing a united front to challenge the MEK’s stalling and diversionary tactics.
The GOI has tasked its diplomatic delegations in Europe to apprise the European political community of the lies and deception used by the MEK to cover its many contraventions of the law. Only days ago Maryam Rajavi was summoned to the Palais de Justice in Paris to answer charges to charges of terrorism related activities, fraud and slavery.
Documents have recently been made available to the US Treasury linking an array of front organisation finances to companies and investments controlled by the Mojahedin-e Khalq’s leader.
Speakers’ agencies have been warned to exercise extreme caution regarding the MEK’s methods for recruiting support for the rally in France. Those attending the rally must know they are engaged by organisations with direct links to the MEK.
In addition, with the MEK’s financial sources exposed it has become possible for victims to pursue a class action to claim compensation directly from the Rajavis. Victims of the MEK, including former members who say their basic human rights were denied them for years, have launched a legal case for compensation from the companies which Massoud and Maryam Rajavi use to fund their elaborate and expensive propaganda campaigns. Their message is clear: Individuals who accept financial recompense from the MEK through its front organisations for speeches or lobbying should know that they can no longer claim ignorance and they will be pursued through the courts to recover money which should rightfully go to compensate the victims. Whether the MEK is on the US terrorism list or not there is very little tolerance for the group. It is widely regarded as finished.
For those who are not involved too deeply with the MEK, it would be advisable to get out now.
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.
... 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.
U.N. Iraq chief: The countries of the world must take MEK ‘refugees’
(aka; Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, Rajavi cult)
... Some advocates of the MEK, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have called Camp Ashraf a "concentration camp," a reference Kobler said is insulting and offensive."I am a German citizen. To compare the situation of Camp Ashraf residents to the systematic extermination of European Jews during Nazi dictatorship, this is not only historically totally absurd but is an insult to the victims," he said."My message to these supporters is, spend your energies not so much on attacking the United Nations or others. Spend your energies to convince your governments to take them into your countries," he said ...
The United Nations and the State Department have been struggling to convince the Iranian exile group the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK) to move to a former U.S. military base in Iraq, but the real need is for third countries to accept MEK "refugees" on a permanent basis, according to the top U.N. representative in Iraq.
The MEK is a State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization opposed to the Iranian regime that has been living in a closed compound in Iraq called Camp Ashraf for years. The Iraqi government has pledged to close Camp Ashraf, using force if necessary, so the U.N. and the State Department are slowly but surely cajoling Ashraf's 3,200 residents to move to Camp Liberty, a former U.S. military base near the Baghdad airport.
But that's only a temporary solution. Unless other countries start accepting MEK members for relocation, they could face the prospect of being returned to Iran, where they could face retribution from the Iranian regime they have been fighting for decades.
"I have the feeling that the Camp Ashraf residents have made peace with the idea to go to Camp Liberty and they've made peace with the idea that there is no future in Iraq and they will leave Iraq," Martin Kobler, the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), told The Cable.
But finding homes for the MEK members when they leave Iraq "is the most difficult part of the story," he said. "The whole process only will succeed if all the 3,200 find countries who will take them into their borders."
The U.N. held a resettlement conference on March 27 in Geneva and the response was "not overwhelming, to say the least," Kobler said.
Part of the difficulty of dealing with the MEK group members at Camp Ashraf is that they have been cut off from the world for years and little is known about their individual histories or whether they would qualify for refugee status. Some reports say that MEK members are still conducting violent attacks inside Iran at the behest of the Israeli government.
The United States is legally barred from accepting any refugees from members of a foreign terrorist organization. There is also no plan for what happens to those MEK members who do not qualify for refugee status.
"We will find a solution then," Kobler said. "Everybody has Iranian nationality and on a voluntary basis can go back to Iran... The question is what happens to them then."
"Camp Liberty is a place where 5,500 American soldiers lived for many, many years... What worked for 5,500 people should also work humanitarian wise for 3,200 Camp Ashraf residents," he said.
Kobler declined to comment on reports that the MEK is involved in ongoing attacks on the Iranian nuclear program and its personnel inside Iran. He also declined to confirm that U.N. reports have stated that MEK members were intentionally sabotaging the facilities in Camp Liberty in order to make the camp look worse than it is, saying only, "There were big initial difficulties and a lack of cooperation. However this has improved over the last weeks."
Some advocates of the MEK, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have called Camp Ashraf a "concentration camp," a reference Kobler said is insulting and offensive.
"I am a German citizen. To compare the situation of Camp Ashraf residents to the systematic extermination of European Jews during Nazi dictatorship, this is not only historically totally absurd but is an insult to the victims," he said.
"My message to these supporters is, spend your energies not so much on attacking the United Nations or others. Spend your energies to convince your governments to take them into your countries," he said.
While in Washington, Kobler met with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Assistant Secretary of State for Refugees, Population, and Migration Anne Richards, and Ambassador Daniel Fried, the State Department official in charge of the Camp Ashraf issue.
Martin Kobler (U.N.), Daniel Fried (U.S.) discuss Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty in European Parliament
... The United Nations top envoy in Iraq today voiced his concern about the delay in the relocation of the residents of Camp New Iraq – formerly known as Camp Ashraf – to a new location, Camp Hurriya, prior to resettlement in third countries. “I urge the remaining residents of Camp Ashraf to relocate to Camp Hurriya without delay,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Martin Kobler, said. “The relocation process should not be stalled. I am concerned that there will be violence if the relocation doesn’t recommence. Any violence would be unacceptable.” ...
Special Representative Martin Kobler. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz
The United Nations top envoy in Iraq today voiced his concern about the delay in the relocation of the residents of Camp New Iraq – formerly known as Camp Ashraf – to a new location, Camp Hurriya, prior to resettlement in third countries.
“I urge the remaining residents of Camp Ashraf to relocate to Camp Hurriya without delay,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Martin Kobler, said. “The relocation process should not be stalled. I am concerned that there will be violence if the relocation doesn’t recommence. Any violence would be unacceptable.”
“I call on the Government of Iraq to avoid any forceful relocation. Each relocation must be voluntary. The United Nations supports only a peaceful, humanitarian solution and stands ready to facilitate,” he added in an UNAMI statement.
The Mission added that the relocation to Camp Hurriya has been stalled since the arrival of a fifth group of residents on 5 May.
Camp New Iraq – made up of several thousand Iranian exiles, many of them members of a group known as the People’s Mojahedeen of Iran – has been one of the main issues dealt with by UNAMI for more than 18 months.
In line with a memorandum of understanding signed in December 2011 by the UN and the Iraqi Government to resolve the situation, some two-thirds of the residents, or 2,000 people, were re-located to a temporary transit location near Baghdad known as Camp Hurriya – and formerly known as Camp Liberty – where a process to determine refugee status is being carried out by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
UNAMI added that the relocation process has come a long way since February 2012. Two thirds of the residents have already moved to Camp Hurriya, prior to resettlement abroad. Among them are hundreds of people with special needs, suffering from disabilities and serious medical conditions.
“I also urgently call on States to include residents who are eligible for refugee status in their resettlement quotas and to offer them a path to a more hopeful future outside Iraq,” Mr. Kobler said.
UNAMI staff monitor the human rights and humanitarian situation during the relocation process and provide round-the-clock human rights monitoring at Camp Hurriya.
Under the memorandum of understanding from last December, the Government of Iraq is responsible for the safety and security of the residents during their relocation and for the duration of their stay at the camp.
UN welcomes start of relocation of Iranian exiles to new camp in Iraq
... Today's relocation is in line with the memorandum of understanding signed in December by the UN and the Iraqi Government to resolve the situation facing the residents of Camp New Iraq (formerly Camp Ashraf), who are members of a group known as the People's Mojahedeen of Iran. Martin Kobler, the head of UNAMI and the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, commended the 400 or so residents for their decision to move to Camp Hurriya. “This is the first step towards a better future outside Iraq,” he said. “I look forward to their continued cooperation with the Iraqi authorities to complete the relocation without delay.” ...
Special Representative Martin Kobler. UN Photo/Bikem Ekberzade
The United Nations has welcomed today's safe relocation of about 400 residents of the Iraqi settlement formerly known as Camp Ashraf to a new transit centre elsewhere in the country, calling it “the first step towards a better future” for the residents, who are Iranian exiles.
The 400 people who voluntarily relocated today – the first to do so – now reside in Camp Hurriya, a temporary transit location, according to a press release issued by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in Baghdad.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will immediately start the process of verification and refugee status determinations, a key step in preparing the submissions of eligible candidates for resettlement in third countries.
Today's relocation is in line with the memorandum of understanding signed in December by the UN and the Iraqi Government to resolve the situation facing the residents of Camp New Iraq (formerly Camp Ashraf), who are members of a group known as the People's Mojahedeen of Iran.
Martin Kobler, the head of UNAMI and the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, commended the 400 or so residents for their decision to move to Camp Hurriya.
“This is the first step towards a better future outside Iraq,” he said. “I look forward to their continued cooperation with the Iraqi authorities to complete the relocation without delay.”
Mr. Kobler also commended Iraqi authorities “for having ensured a safe and secure relocation of the first group of residents. I urge them to pursue the relocation of the remaining residents in a manner that continues to guarantee the human rights, safety and welfare of all residents.”
He urged other Member States to confirm that they are ready and willing to accept eligible candidates from Camp Hurriya who want to resettle in third countries.
... The plan now agreed to by the Iraqi government should be given a chance to work. As a first step, it calls for the camp residents to voluntarily relocate to a transit site at the Baghdad airport. In contrast to Camp Ashraf, this site would be monitored around the clock by observers from the United Nations. There, the residents would be interviewed by the U.N. refugee agency, the UNHCR, to determine their eligibility for refugee status, paving the way for their resettlement outside of Iraq. Most have filed refugee claims. A small number have returned to Iran in recent years, but many others will want to go elsewhere ...
After decades of dictatorship followed by invasion and conflict, Iraqis began this year with a chance to build a peaceful future. If not managed carefully, however, a lingering issue from the past could stain this moment of opportunity with tragedy.
I am referring to the situation of Camp Ashraf, where a tense standoff has persisted between the government of Iraq and an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which for the last 25 years has occupied a self-enclosed camp only a few hours drive from Baghdad.
The government has made it clear that it wants Camp Ashraf shut down and MEK — which once fought alongside Saddam Hussein and is designated by the United States and some other governments as a terrorist organization — to leave Iraq. Baghdad sees its presence, in a place which is off-limits to the government, as an affront to national sovereignty.
At the same time, there are very real concerns about what closing this camp would mean for the human rights, safety and welfare of the approximately 3,400 residents of Camp Ashraf. The United Nations strongly shares these concerns, which have been underscored vocally by the group’s supporters internationally, among them a number of U.S. and European officials and former officials.
There should be no confusion about the stance of the United Nations. We support only a peaceful, humanitarian solution for Camp Ashraf. We have been working hard to facilitate such an outcome — one that both respects Iraq’s sovereignty and provides the people of Camp Ashraf with a safe and voluntary path to a more hopeful life outside of Iraq.
When the Iraqi government announced late last year that it would be closing the camp by Dec. 31, the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, spoke with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to ask for more time for negotiation. Many feared a repeat of the violence of April 2011, when dozens of Ashraf residents were killed in clashes with Iraqi security forces at the camp.
The United Nations welcomed Mr. Maliki’s decision to extend the deadline until April. We have carried out an exhaustive and impartial diplomatic effort since then, with the support of the United States and the European Union, to encourage a peaceful solution. We have gone the extra mile to consult with Camp Ashraf residents and their leadership in order to address their concerns.
The plan now agreed to by the Iraqi government should be given a chance to work.
As a first step, it calls for the camp residents to voluntarily relocate to a transit site at the Baghdad airport. In contrast to Camp Ashraf, this site would be monitored around the clock by observers from the United Nations. There, the residents would be interviewed by the U.N. refugee agency, the UNHCR, to determine their eligibility for refugee status, paving the way for their resettlement outside of Iraq. Most have filed refugee claims. A small number have returned to Iran in recent years, but many others will want to go elsewhere.
Under the same agreement, the government of Iraq has made two key commitments that it must uphold. First, it has accepted full responsibility for the safety and security of the residents, from the relocation process throughout their stay at the new facility. Secondly, it has promised that nobody would be forced to go to Iran or elsewhere against their wishes.
The new site is a former U.S. Marine base that can hold more than 5,000 people. It has been equipped at considerable expense to receive the residents of Camp Ashraf. It has cooking and medical facilities, space for recreational activities and provisions for women and religious observance. UNHCR has carried out a careful technical assessment and determined that the new camp meets the humanitarian standards it applies for refugee situations around the world.
The process has arrived at a moment of truth.
After agreeing in principle to move an initial group of 400 residents, Camp Ashraf’s leaders have hesitated in recent days to begin the move, placing new conditions that the Iraqi government rejects. The government’s patience is wearing thin, and further delay could lead to provocation and violence.
I am concerned that the perfect is becoming the enemy of the good. Change is understandably unsettling for the residents, but maintaining the status quo is neither a safe nor viable option.
The relocation of the camp residents is of course only a bridge to a longer-term solution — their resettlement outside Iraq. Without this, the horizon is unclear.
We are calling on the international community — particularly the United States and Europe, which have long traditions of accepting refugees — to confirm publicly their readiness to accept eligible residents. Supporters in the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament could do their part by backing the relocation plan and taking the necessary steps to find a home for the residents.
Equally importantly, we are reminding the government of Iraq of its commitments. Impatience should not lead to miscalculation. Any violent solution would be totally unacceptable.
Time is running out, and lives are at stake. All concerned parties — camp residents, the Iraqi government and the international community — must do their part to ensure that the peaceful path is the route taken on Camp Ashraf.
Martin Kobler is the special representative of the U.N. secretary general for Iraq.
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 ...
Special Representative Martin Kobler. UN Photo/Bikem Ekberzade
31 January 2012 –
United Nations refugee and human rights officials said today that they have confirmed that the infrastructure and facilities at a new camp in Iraq for residents of the settlement formerly known as Camp Ashraf meet international standards, as stipulated in last month’s agreement on voluntary relocation between the UN and the Iraqi Government.
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
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 ...
Special Briefing Ambassador Daniel Fried Via Teleconference Washington, DC 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.
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 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.
UNHCR 1 February 2012
---------- * This document will be updated as needed.