UK Parliament – some sensible answers to Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) claims

UK Parliament – some sensible answers to Mojahedin (Rajavi cult) claims

 

UK Parliament, April 20-21 2009: … In the case of occupied territory, the Convention continues to apply for a year after the general close of military operations, and partially thereafter if the occupying power continues to exercise the functions of government. The occupation of Iraq formally ended on 30 June 2004…

UK Parliament, April 20-21 2009

Written answers
Monday, 20 April 2009
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Iraq: Mujahedin-e Khalq
David Drew (Stroud, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of alleged attacks on residents in Ashraf City by members of the Iraqi secret service; and if he will make a statement.
Bill Rammell (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Harlow, Labour)
holding answer 20 March 2009
We are aware that such allegations have surfaced in the Iraqi media. We have discussed these allegations with the US, who retain a presence inside Camp Ashraf, and with the Iraqi government. We have seen no evidence to support the allegations.

Written answers
Monday, 20 April 2009
House of Lords
Iran
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass (Crossbench)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to ensure that Camp Ashraf residents who are members of the People’s Mujaheddin Organisation of Iran are not expelled to Iran by the Iraqi authorities; and what alternatives to that they have proposed through the United Nations.
Lord Malloch-Brown (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Labour)
Responsibility for the security and administration of Camp Ashraf was transferred on 1 January 2009 from the US to the Iraqi authorities. Prior to this handover the US received assurances from the Iraqi authorities towards their clear commitment to the humane treatment and continued well-being of the camp residents. The US retains a presence at the camp in an advisory/monitoring capacity.
The Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights visits the camp and has delivered assurances to a representative body of the residents. The International Committee of the Red Cross follows developments at the camp closely and continues to visit. It also discusses on a confidential basis all of the issues surrounding the camp with the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) and the Iraqi and US authorities.
The UN High Commission for Refugees has previously determined that Camp Ashraf residents do not qualify as refugees. While there is no evidence to suggest that the Government of Iraq intend forcibly to relocate the residents, our Embassy in Baghdad has requested a call on the Ministry of Human Rights to make known the level of interest in this issue in the UK and to remind the Iraqi Government of their earlier assurances. Our Embassy in Baghdad is also pursuing the possibility of a visit to the camp by a consular official.

Written answers
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
House of Lords
Iraq
Lord King of West Bromwich (Labour)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Iraq to safeguard the human rights and safety of Iranian residents in Ashraf City; and with what results.
Lord Malloch-Brown (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Labour)
The US held responsibility for the security and administration of Camp Ashraf until 1 January 2009. Responsibility was then transferred from the US to Iraqi authorities. The modalities of the transfer had been discussed by both sides with UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. Prior to the transfer, the US received assurances from the Iraqi authorities towards their clear commitment to the humane treatment and continued wellbeing of the camp residents. The US retains a presence at the camp in an advisory/monitoring capacity.
The Government of Iraq have stated that no Camp Ashraf residents will be forcibly transferred to a country where they have reason to fear persecution. The Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights visits the camp and has delivered assurances to a representative body of the residents. The International Committee of the Red Cross follows developments at the camp closely and continues to visit. It also discusses on a confidential basis all of the issues surrounding the camp with the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MeK) and the Iraqi and US authorities.
While no specific representations to the Government of Iraq have been made, our embassy in Baghdad has requested a call on the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights to make known the level of interest in this issue in the UK and to remind the Iraqi Government of its earlier assurances. In addition to this, as stated by my honourable friend, Bill Rammell, Minister of State for the Middle East, during an adjournment debate in Westminster Hall on 25 March 2009 (Hansard, col. 90WH) “the British embassy in Baghdad is pursuing the possibility of a visit by a consular official to Camp Ashraf” to ascertain whether any of its residents might be entitled to consular assistance.

Library of the House of Commons
In brief: Camp Ashraf and the Geneva Conventions
Standard note: SN/IA/05022
Last updated: 20 March 2009
Author: Arabella Thorp
Section: International Affairs and Defence Section
What is Camp Ashraf ?
Ashraf is a settlement in Iraq’s Diyala province, near the border with Iran, which houses the headquarters of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), also known as Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) or Mujahideen-e-Khalq Organisation (MKO). The PMOI is the main body in the coalition of Iranian opposition groups known as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and is regarded as a terrorist organisation by a number of states but has now been removed from the UK and EU lists of terrorist organisations. It sided with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War, but following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 the PMOI surrendered to US forces and 3,800 PMOI members were disarmed and cantoned in Camp Ashraf. Some 370 have since been voluntarily repatriated to Iran , and in 2004 restrictions and controls were removed. The Iraqi government has stated its intention to close the camp and expel all PMOI personnel from Iraqi territory.
Who is responsible for the inhabitants of Ashraf?
The main responsibility to protect civilians lies with the states that have effective control over them. From 2003 until 31 December 2008 US forces protected Camp Ashraf. Then on 1 January 2009, control passed to the Iraqi Government, under the new US-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement. Both the US and Iraqi governments have given assurances that, within the framework of Iraqi national legislation, Ashraf residents will be treated in accordance with international humanitarian law and with the principle of non-refoulement in particular. The UK considers the issue primarily a US rather than a UK responsibility.
What are the main concerns?
Lliving conditions at Ashraf are not generally a cause for concern, although an explosion damaged Ashraf’s water-supply station in February 2008. The main concern is that its inhabitants would be at risk of torture or other serious human rights violations if they were to be returned involuntarily to Iran. Iraq has reportedly given Ashraf’s inhabitants two options: return to Iran or find a third country for exile. Iraqi officials have however stated that PMOI members would not be forcibly repatriated to Iran and have called upon the international community to offer asylum to Ashraf’s occupants.
People who have left Camp Ashraf voluntarily have reported ‘brain-washing’, forced indoctrination and rough treatment by the PMOI of those who wanted to leave the camp.
This information is provided to Members of Parliament in support of their parliamentary duties and is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. It should not be relied upon as being up to date; the law or policies may have changed since it was last updated; and it should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice or as a substitute for it. A suitably qualified professional should be consulted if specific advice or information is required. This information is provided subject to our general terms and conditions which are available online or may be provided on request in hard copy. Authors are available to discuss the content of this briefing with Members and their staff, but not with the general public.
Do the Geneva Conventions apply?
In July 2004, the PMOI forces in Ashraf were declared by the US to be ‘protected persons’ under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, because they had not been belligerents during the Iraq War. The Fourth Geneva Convention protects civilians who, as the result of an international armed conflict or of occupation, find themselves in the hands of a country of which they are not nationals. It states that in no circumstances shall a protected person be transferred to a country where he or she may have reason to fear persecution for his or her political opinions or religious beliefs.
In the case of occupied territory, the Convention continues to apply for a year after the general close of military operations, and partially thereafter if the occupying power continues to exercise the functions of government. The occupation of Iraq formally ended on 30 June 2004.
What other international law is relevant?
Under the international law principle of non-refoulement, no-one should be deported, expelled or repatriated if there is a real risk that they may be subjected to any kind of ill-treatment, or that they may face persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. The US has ratified international conventions embodying this principle (the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture), but Iraq has not. However, non-refoulement is widely recognised as a principle of customary international law that binds all states.
Further reading
Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), 5 March 2009 [available through the Parliamentary Intranet]
Juan-Pedro Schaerer, Iraq: ICRC activities in behalf of Iranian nationals living in Ashraf, 3 December 2008
Zouhair Al Hassani, ‘International humanitarian law and its implementation in Iraq ’, International Review of the Red Cross Vol. 90 No. 869, March 2008
Knut Dörmann and Laurent Colassis, ‘International Humanitarian Law in the Iraq Conflict’, German Yearbook of International Law 47 (2004), 293–342
International Committee of the Red Cross, Protected persons and property and international humanitarian law [viewed 20 March 2009]
Amnesty International, Iraq: No Iranians in need of protection should be sent to Iran against their will, 28 August 2008
Amnesty International, Security agreement puts 16,000 Iraqi detainees at risk of torture, 28 November 2008
Massoud Khodabandeh (former member of PMOI), Camp Ashraf: a test of US-Iraqi relations, 7 April 2008
Iran Interlink, Nejat Society Asks UK to Support Iraqi Government Plans for Camp Ashraf Victims, 11 December 2008
Hon. David Kilgour, J.D., ‘Catastrophe on horizon for Camp Ashraf refugees’, Middle East Times 8 October 2008
House of Lords debate, Iraq: Ashraf City, HL Deb 2 March 2009 cc504-6

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Also read:
http://www.iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=6266

Letter to Mr. Al Maliki Prime Minister of Iraq

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The Government of Iraq is not only fulfilling the articles of the resolution but has without a doubt exceeded expectations in its humane treatment of the residents of Camp Ashraf …

Massoud Khodabandeh, April 24, 2009

Dear Sir,

Today the European Parliament adopted a resolution on ‘the humanitarian situation of Camp Ashraf residents’.

Although the expectations in the resolution fall far short of what the Government of Iraq has actually done since 1st January 2009 in order to pursue a humanitarian path toward dismantling the camp and freeing its residents, we feel certain that you will welcome this resolution as an expression of concern by members of the European Parliament that your government be protected from malicious accusations of wrongdoing in pursuing your sovereign rights and responsibilities.

Unfortunately the resolution contains some regrettable factual errors (as you are fully aware, the Fourth Geneva Convention has not applied to Camp Ashraf residents since June 2005 and the UNHCR has determined that Camp Ashraf residents do not qualify as refugees), but in spite of this we must warmly congratulate the Government of Iraq on the fact that it has already over-exceeded the requirements of the resolution in guaranteeing the humanitarian treatment of Camp Ashraf residents.

Indeed, the plan pursued by your National Security Advisor, Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, has shown a profound understanding of the real problems faced by residents in the camp. The enlightened and humanitarian actions, in the face of severe provocation by the MEK leaders, which have already been put in place will, I am sure, become an example for other national governments which may be faced with the task of dismantling a dangerous, destructive cult as is the MEK.

The Government of Iraq is not only fulfilling the articles of the resolution but has without a doubt exceeded expectations in its humane treatment of the residents of Camp Ashraf.

However, I am sure you will agree that your Government faces two main obstacles in fulfilling the obligations which you have set for yourselves and which are repeated in the resolution.

The first is that the MEK has created various obstacles and mounted severe provocations which demonstrate that the group’s leaders will not cooperate in any way with your government’s efforts to safely secure the individual futures of the residents. Indeed, through their continued refusal to abide by Iraqi and/or international law the people residing in camp Ashraf have regrettably defined themselves as outlaws.

The second obstacle is that the expected help and cooperation from other national governments, particularly those of the European Union in fulfilling their obligations under article 4 of the resolution, has not been forthcoming. It is becoming clear that although western governments are willing to talk about their support for the MEK, none are willing to accept the residents as refugees in their countries.

In light of the failure of western democratic governments to offer concrete help to the people of Camp Ashraf in the form of places of refuge, may we urge your government to look further afield.

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Also read:
http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=6264

UN Fourth Geneva Convention status is not for sale

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… In the case of occupied territory, the Convention continues to apply for a year after the general close of military operations, and partially thereafter if the occupying power continues to exercise the functions of government. The occupation of Iraq formally ended on 30 June 2004 …

Massoud Khodabandeh, April 23, 2009

The MKO’s supporters in the European Parliament today pushed through a last-minute resolution on Camp Ashraf just before the close of parliament for the elections. Although voting does not take place until tomorrow, the resolution is already defunct as it clearly contains false information and misleading political assertions.

The resolution, did not include any criticism of MKO behaviour in Iraq, nor did it oblige the MKO to abide by Iraqi and international law. Instead it re-iterates the false assertion that UN Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the group even though there can be no doubt that the Geneva Convention referred to has not applied since June 2005. Tomorrow members of parliament will be asked to vote on a resolution which is hopelessly flawed.

In my view, as I explained in my latest letter to the European Parliament, the only way forward is for the EU to cooperate with the Governemnt of Iraq to open alternative camps and help these people to reintegrate into mainstream society.

From the UK House of Commons Library

http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/briefings/SNIA-05022.pdf  

(…)

Do the Geneva Conventions apply?

In July 2004, the PMOI forces in Ashraf were declared by the US to be ‘protected persons’ under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, because they had not been belligerents during the Iraq War. The Fourth Geneva Convention protects civilians who, as the result of an international armed conflict or of occupation, find themselves in the hands of a country of which they are not nationals. It states that in no circumstances shall a protected person be transferred to a country where he or she may have reason to fear persecution for his or her political opinions or religious beliefs.

In the case of occupied territory, the Convention continues to apply for a year after the general close of military operations, and partially thereafter if the occupying power continues to exercise the functions of government. The occupation of Iraq formally ended on 30 June 2004.

(…)

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Also read:
http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=6231

Massoud Khodabandeh to the European Parliament in relation to a proposed resolution on Camp Ashraf

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… I urge European and international governments as well as humanitarian agencies to cooperate fully with the Iraqi authorities to help restore basic human rights to the people trapped in Camp Ashraf…

Massoud Khodabandeh, April 17, 2009

As you are aware, since December 2003 successive Iraqi governments (from the first interim government to the present elected government) have demanded that the American Army remove Camp Ashraf and the foreign terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) militants in it from their country. This is not a new demand and is based on the MEK’s historical enmity toward the Iraqi people for two decades as part of the suppressive apparatus of Saddam Hussein.

Only since the American Army handed over responsibility for Camp Ashraf in January this year has it been possible for the Government of Iraq (GOI) to take action toward removing the MEK and closing Camp Ashraf as a fundamental aspect of taking full, sovereign control of the country. The GOI’s first and basic demand is that the individuals resident in the camp obey Iraqi and international law. The MEK, in any country they reside, regard themselves as ‘outside the law’ of that country – true outlaws. How and why they escape justice in these countries of course requires explanation from the governments and judicial systems of those countries. But for now, the Iraqi Government appears to be the only entity which is prepared to challenge this situation and to its credit is being completely open about the process.

As you are aware, there are 25 American soldiers posted at Camp Ashraf. To date, they have not reported any activity by the Iraqi authorities in pursuit of this sovereign right to dismantle and remove a dangerous, destructive terrorist group from the country which has given rise to concern.

On the contrary, there is plentiful evidence that the leaders of the MEK, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, continue to preside over a situation inside Camp Ashraf in which the individual members are subjected to a harsh and unremitting regime involving daily violations of their basic human rights. An article in The Economist (April 8, 2009) stated: “the PMOI is widely reviled by human-rights groups for nurturing a messianic cult of personality around Mr Rajavi and his wife, Maryam, and for enforcing a totalitarian discipline on its adherents. Several defectors testify, in the words of one of them, to a “constant bombardment of indoctrination” and a requirement to submit utterly and unquestioningly to the cause. No sources of news are allowed without the PMOI’s [MEK’s] say-so.”

I believe it is abundantly clear that in relation to human rights violations of the individuals living inside Camp Ashraf, it is the MEK itself which has proven to be the perpetrators. The MEK has also been actively obstructive, indeed provocative, toward those wishing to investigate and alleviate this suffering. So plentiful is this evidence that, after becoming aware that a resolution is proposed in the European Parliament in relation to Camp Ashraf and the people in it, I have been surprised to find that no representatives of the European Parliament have been on an official visit to Baghdad or to Camp Ashraf to investigate the issue. Indeed, it appears that no official contact whatsoever has been made by the European Parliament with the Government of Iraq to discuss this highly sensitive issue.

I urge the European Parliament to redress this glaring omission at the earliest opportunity. The GOI has been commendably transparent in explaining its activities vis-à-vis Camp Ashraf and has shown itself ready to answer any questions. The GOI should have no hesitation in providing full access to Camp Ashraf to officially organised investigative missions, whether by political entities or humanitarian agencies.

Indeed, I have no doubt that the GOI would welcome international oversight of its activities in relation to Camp Ashraf. Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, Iraq ‘s national security advisor’s plan for the difficult task of dismantling an extremist cult has revealed an enlightened, humanitarian approach which could become a blueprint for tackling similar organisations worldwide.

Dr. al Rubaie has stated: “This is an indoctrinated and tightly disciplined organization of extremist zealots who have employed terrorism and at times even self-immolation to secure their aims. In normal everyday language we can say that they have been “brainwashed”. He adds, “The Government of Iraq does not deal with the MEK as an organization. We deal with the residents as individuals.”

Under observation by the ICRC and the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights, Dr. al Rubaie has focused efforts to protect the individuals inside the camp following allegations that human rights abuses are being perpetrated by MEK leaders against the residents. To this end he has said, “We believe that if we can separate individuals from the all-encompassing domination by their leaders, we can allow them to begin to exercise their rights as individuals and make appropriate choices. That is, we hope to remove them from the toxic effects of their indoctrination and leaders.”

In response to the many obstacles thrown up by the MEK to their removal from Camp Ashraf, Dr. al Rubaie said, “The Iraqi Army unit posted to defend and secure Camp Ashraf has exercised patience and extreme restraint in spite of the staged provocations and demonstrations that Ashraf’s self-appointed leaders have launched in defiance of the legitimate exercise by the Government of Iraq of its sovereignty.” “Ashraf is not above the law,” said Dr. al Rubaie.

The Iraqi government has given guarantees that none of the captives will be forced to return to Iran against their wishes. The most serious threat to those left in Camp Ashraf comes from the MEK cult’s leaders, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. They will want to use their blood to extricate themselves from this crisis. American media has already quoted MEK officials threatening a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ at Camp Ashraf. Experts in cult activity and experts on the MEK have interpreted this as the threat of mass suicides of residents by order of the MEK leaders.

I urge European and international governments as well as humanitarian agencies to cooperate fully with the Iraqi authorities to help restore basic human rights to the people trapped in Camp Ashraf.

I urge the European Parliament to give its full support to the Government of Iraq. Any resolution should reflect the realities on the ground and give support to the humanitarian approach taken by the Government of Iraq to resolve this difficult problem.

The aim of a European Parliament resolution must be to prevent any further political abuse of Mojahedin-e Khalq members in Camp Ashraf held captive by their leaders, and guarantee the individual rights of those who renounce violence and are willing to return to society.

A resolution should, above all, reflect the responsibility of European countries toward the victims of the Rajavi cult. In particular, for individuals in Camp Ashraf with residency or asylum rights in European countries, provision should be made in the resolution to work with the GOI for their rapid transfer back to these countries.

A resolution should, as a minimum, include the demands that:

1. The GOI re-open a separate temporary camp adjacent to Camp Ashraf to which people can physically escape and not be forced to continue as members of a foreign terrorist group in Iraq against their will. (Sahar Family Foundation has a list of over 200 individuals who have expressed their desire to leave the MEK but who have no alternative place to go until their final destination is determined.)

2. The MEK should be required to allow free and unfettered access to all of the individual residents inside Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi authorities and to official humanitarian investigative agencies.

3. The MEK should be required to allow free and unfettered access to the immediate family members of all the individual residents inside Camp Ashraf without supervision by MEK operatives.

4. The MEK should be required to allow all residents of Camp Ashraf access to external information, internet, radio, television, books, newspapers and conversation. Gender integration must be reinstated.

5. The European Parliament should work with the UNHCR to find third countries to which the individuals in Camp Ashraf can be transferred. Those with residence and/or asylum rights in European countries should be helped to return and reintegrate into normal society.

6. Mojahedin leaders, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, and other leading members who have escaped the camp should be arrested and brought to justice through international courts.

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Also read:
http://www.iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=6175

Iranian dissidents in Iraq. Where will they all go?

Iranians in Iraq who fought against the Islamic Republic face a shaky future

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The Economist print edition, April 08, 2009
http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13447429

“IT WAS one of the strangest places I’d ever seen,” says one of the few Farsi-speaking Westerners to have spent weeks in Camp Ashraf, 65km (40 miles) north-east of Baghdad, where some 3,400 Iranian dissidents are hunkered down and are now threatened with expulsion from Iraq, perhaps even back to Iran. It was “like a spiffy midsized town in Iran”, with parks, offices and buildings—but no children. It was “sterile, soulless and sad”. Nearly two decades ago, families living in the camp were “dissolved”, couples were forcibly divorced, and their children sent away, many of them to live with supporters living in the West, to be brought up in the faith of a movement widely described by independent observers as a cult.

For the past six years, the Americans have protected the camp, whose raison d’être is generally opposed by the surrounding Iraqi communities and by most Iranians, whether or not they are for or against the clerical regime in Tehran. But as American troops prepare to go home, the Iraqi government, which wants cosy ties with Iran, now says the camp must be closed and its inhabitants dispersed, probably back to Iran, where they would face an uncertain future, to put it mildly.

The group is variously known as the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) or the Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organisation (abbreviated as both MEK and MKO). Founded in 1965 as a youthful underground opposition to Iran’s Shah, it was usually described as “Islamic Marxist”. When the Shah fell it at first backed Ayatollah Khomeini but soon fell out with him, embarking on a campaign of violence and bombings which, on a single occasion, is reckoned to have killed 70 civilians, including several senior clerics; the withered arm of Iran’s current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was a result of that bomb. The group’s political umbrella is called the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

The PMOI’s leader, Massoud Rajavi, fled to France in 1981 but he and his followers, many of them women, relocated in 1986 to Iraq, where Saddam Hussein gave them a big base at Camp Ashraf, which is thought to be around 20km in circumference. Saddam abundantly supplied the PMOI with Brazilian and British tanks (captured from Iran during the war of 1980-1988) and Russian armoured personnel carriers, among other arms. In return, the PMOI made attacks on Iran itself, which is why Iranians of all stripes tend to regard the group as traitors. It is also said to have spearheaded Saddam’s attacks on rebellious Iraqi Kurds and Shias in 1991, after the first Gulf war, a charge it strongly denies.

Follow my leader
No less controversially, the PMOI is widely reviled by human-rights groups for nurturing a messianic cult of personality around Mr Rajavi and his wife, Maryam, and for enforcing a totalitarian discipline on its adherents. Several defectors testify, in the words of one of them, to a “constant bombardment of indoctrination” and a requirement to submit utterly and unquestioningly to the cause. No sources of news are allowed without the PMOI’s say-so. According to one defector, around 50 members who rebelled were sent to Saddam’s prison in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad.

Members are completely cut off from contact with their families. When the above-mentioned Farsi-speaking Westerner, who visited Ashraf in 2004, enabled wavering group members to talk to their families in Iran by satellite telephone, some of their parents refused to believe it was their children, for they had been told by the PMOI that they were dead.

No one is sure whether Mr Rajavi is alive but most think not; he has not been heard of since the American invasion of 2003. His wife, known as “the president-elect”, travels the world, soliciting support from a wide range of sympathisers, including some in the American Congress, the European Parliament and the British House of Lords. No one is sure who really controls the PMOI in Camp Ashraf. It is thought that nearly 400 residents have voluntarily returned to Iran, where they are said to have been treated adequately so far. But who can really tell? Several hundred more are seeking refugee status elsewhere. A few dozen have—or rather had—passports to Western countries, some of which have verified their bona fides.

In the past year, the European Parliament and Britain’s courts have removed the label of “terrorist” from the PMOI, mainly on the ground that the group says it has disavowed violence, is not known to have carried out any acts of terror since, at the latest, 2002, and surrendered its weapons (at any rate, its heavier ones) at Camp Ashraf after the American invasion. This has irritated several national governments, especially the British and French ones, which think the PMOI is a nasty nuisance and its presence on their soil bad for relations with both Iraq and Iran.

The outfit is still officially deemed a terrorist organisation in the United States but has a fierce lobby there too, backed by a mix of neoconservatives and leftists, that accepts at face value the group’s insistence that it is a secular and democratic movement with mass support in Iran and a real chance of eventually displacing the mullahs’ regime. Its lobby in Europe is much exercised by recent statements of Muwafaq al-Rubaie, Iraq’s national security adviser, who makes it plain he wants the camp disbanded and its people sent abroad, mostly to Iran, whose rulers have become more vociferous in calling its fellow reigning Shias in Baghdad to send them back.

The PMOI has a sophisticated network of ardent supporters. Without a doubt, its voice of despairing outrage will rise to a squeal if the Americans give way to Iraqi and Iranian demands to cut the movement loose. But it may happen.  

 

 

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Also read:
http://iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=6168

Iraq’s National Security Advisor Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie on Camp Ashraf, Massoud Rajavi and ‘Detoxifying’ MEK Members

 

 Reuters, April 06, 2009
http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS149616+06-Apr-2009+PRN20090406


Iraq’s National Security Advisor
Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie

LONDON, April 6 /PRNewswire/ — In an interview with Anne Singleton of Iran-Interlink, Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, Iraq ‘s national security advisor clarified his approach to the Government of Iraq’s decision to remove the Iranian terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK, aka MKO, PMOI) from the country.

Responsibility for Camp Ashraf was handed over to the Government of Iraq by the Coalition Forces in January this year. Since then, Dr. al Rubaie’s plan for the difficult task of dismantling an extremist cult has revealed an enlightened, humanitarian approach which could become a blueprint for tackling similar organisations worldwide.

Dr. al Rubaie explained, “This is an indoctrinated and tightly disciplined organization of extremist zealots who have employed terrorism and at times even self-immolation to secure their aims. In normal everyday language we can say that they have been “brainwashed”. He added, “The Government of Iraq does not deal with the MEK as an organization. We deal with the residents as individuals.”

Under observation by the ICRC and the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights, Dr. al Rubaie has focused efforts to protect the individuals inside the camp following allegations that human rights abuses are being perpetrated by MEK leaders against the residents. To this end he said, “We believe that if we can separate individuals from the all-encompassing domination by their leaders, we can allow them to begin to exercise their rights as individuals and make appropriate choices. That is, we hope to remove them from the toxic effects of their indoctrination and leaders.”

In response to the many obstacles thrown up by the MEK to their removal from Camp Ashraf, Dr al Rubaie told Iran-Interlink, “The Iraqi Army unit posted to defend and secure Camp Ashraf has exercised patience and extreme restraint in spite of the staged provocations and demonstrations that Ashraf’s self-appointed leaders have launched in defiance of the legitimate exercise by the Government of Iraq of its sovereignty.” “Ashraf is not above the law,” said Dr. al Rubaie.

Asked what can the UK , European and other western governments do to help resettle the MEK, Dr. al Rubaie replied, “These governments can agree to allow their citizens and others who have status in their country to return.”

For the full interview see http://iran-Interlink.org


        Contact:
        Anne Singleton
        +44-1132780503
        +44-7876541150
        editor@iran-interlink.org
        

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Read the full report:
http://www.iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=6155

An Interview with Iraq’s National Security Advisor Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie

 about Camp Ashraf by Anne Singleton

 April 5, 2009

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… Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie: We have and will continue to treat the residents of Camp Ashraf humanely and in accordance with Iraqi law and international law and conventions. We will not initiate acts of violence against them. We do expect them to cooperate in our efforts to exercise our sovereignty according to the rule of law. Should they choose extremist acts such as self-immolation, it will be their decision which we would regret…

Anne Singleton, Iran Interlink, April 05, 2009

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After 2003 the disarmed Iranian terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) organisation was consolidated from various locales in Iraq and protected by US forces at Camp Ashraf in Diyala province; a bizarre anomaly in Iraqi and coalition efforts to bring unity and peace to the country. The Government of Iraq has long regarded the MEK as a foreign terrorist group which continues to threaten internal security and is culpable for aiding Saddam Hussein in the violent suppression of Kurdish and Shia uprisings in 1991. Successive announcements in 2008 by President Jalal Talabani and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari made clear their government’s determination to expel all the MEK members as soon as possible.

But solving the conundrum as to why the group has been protected and promoted by western interests for all this time has become clearer since January this year when responsibility for Camp Ashraf was handed over to the Government of Iraq by the Coalition Forces. As the Government of Iraq has moved swiftly to fulfil its decision to expel members of the MEK from the country, so the protests by those who have a stake in the continued presence of the group have intensified.

During March, three debates were held in the UK parliament by members supporting the MEK. In spite of being on the US terrorism list since 1997, CBS and CNN news channels have broadcast MEK films showing its personnel obstructing Iraqi authorities as they try to perform their duties. Additionally, the Washington Post has quoted an MEK spokesman in which he is threatening the Government of Iraq that “a human catastrophe” will follow further action.

Even though Europe and the UK have un-proscribed the group as it claims to no longer believe in violence, no moves have been made to have European and British citizens and those with residency rights removed from Camp Ashraf to safety. Instead, powerful lobbies who have used the MEK for their own interests are continuing their efforts to force the Government of Iraq to maintain the infrastructure of a terrorist organisation in its country. Keeping the group in Iraq can only serve the interests of those Saddamists who still believe the group will give them leverage over the Government of Iraq.

Spearheading Government plans to remove the MEK is Iraq’s national security advisor Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie. His role is to advise the Government of Iraq and coordinate policies and activity in relation to national security and intelligence matters.

Over several months Dr. al Rubaie has fielded criticisms and attacks with repeated assurances that the residents of Camp Ashraf will be treated according to international human rights standards and that none would be forcibly repatriated. To date, nothing has occurred at Camp Ashraf to give any cause for concern to human rights organisations. In recent weeks two MEK members departed Camp Ashraf voluntarily. One confessed that he had been instructed to commit suicide in order to implicate Iraq’s Army. These two men, who were protected and comfortably accommodated by the Iraqi Government under observation by the ICRC and the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights, spoke openly of the human rights violations perpetrated by the leaders on MEK members. It was partly in response to this information that Dr. al Rubaie has focused efforts to protect the individuals inside the camp.

Indeed Dr. al Rubaie’s plan for the difficult task of dismantling an extremist cult has revealed an enlightened, humanitarian approach which could become a blueprint for tackling similar organisations worldwide.

However, as the clamour continues, I asked Dr. al Rubaie for an interview in order to further clarify his Government’s approach to events at Camp Ashraf.

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Anne Singleton: You want to move the residents from Camp Ashraf for their own protection, yet the MEK commanders say they must remain in Camp Ashraf. What do you think motivates them?
Mowaffak al Rubaie: The self-appointed leaders at Camp Ashraf will have to speak for themselves. What I will address is how the residents of Camp Ashraf have cooperated or not cooperated with the policies and decisions of the Government of Iraq. The GOI does not deal with the MEK as an organization. We deal with the residents as individuals. The GOI has informed them that as members of a foreign terrorist organization they cannot remain in Iraq and must choose whether to return to their country of citizenship or some other country. Remaining in Iraq is not an option. The GOI has taken steps to assure their security while beginning to exercise sovereignty at Camp Ashraf as we do in every other part of our country. Ashraf is not above the law. Any infractions of Iraqi law will be handled by the GOI authorities with attention to due process and humanitarian standards. To date, the residents of Camp Ashraf have created a series of obstacles to the legitimate exercise of sovereignty by the GOI and this will not be tolerated. They must cooperate in order to avoid obstructing our authorities carrying out their legitimate duties.

AS: Some observers speculate that MEK leader Massoud Rajavi is in the anti-nuclear bunker inside Camp Ashraf and that is why the commanders refuse to move. Do you think this is possible?
MR: We do not know exactly what is within the bounds of Camp Ashraf. The GOI has informed the residents that we will diligently and progressively examine all areas of Ashraf to ensure there is no contraband, that there are no illegal activities taking place, and that they must cooperate with this legitimate exercise of Iraqi sovereignty and enforcement of the rule of law.

AS: You have spoken of ‘detoxifying’ the people in Camp Ashraf. Could you explain what this means and why you feel it is necessary? What do you hope to achieve?
MR: As you know from observing the behavior of the MEK and from their history, this is an indoctrinated and tightly disciplined organization of extremist zealots who have employed terrorism and at times even self-immolation to secure their aims. In normal everyday language we can say that they have been “brainwashed”. As is common in organizations of this type, the indoctrination and discipline rely on the continuous pressure of their leaders and the total control by them of their environment. Therefore, individuals have little ability to exercise their free will because they exist in this closed environment and fear for personal reprisals if they are discovered to have deviated from the approved line of responses. As we strive to determine from each individual where they wish to go since they cannot remain in Iraq, we are conducting individual surveys and a census which are open to oversight by the ICRC and the UN. We believe that if we can separate individuals from the all-encompassing domination by their leaders, we can allow them to begin to exercise their rights as individuals and make appropriate choices. That is, we hope to remove them from the toxic effects of their indoctrination and leaders.

AS: CBS and CNN have been broadcasting clips showing women shouting at and insulting Iraqi soldiers from behind closed gates. Could tell us more about what these scenes depict.
MR: You will have to ask CBS and CNN when and under what circumstances they obtained their filmed scenes. What I can tell you is that the Iraqi Army unit posted to defend and secure Camp Ashraf has been in full control since 20 February and has exercised patience and extreme restraint in spite of the staged provocations and demonstrations that Ashraf’s self-appointed leaders have launched in defiance of the legitimate exercise by the GOI of its sovereignty.

AS: Families are concerned about having access to their relatives without MEK minders being present. Do you see a time in the near future that such visits can be facilitated?
MR: The GOI has already facilitated visits by families and has provided the residents of Camp Ashraf written procedures which are fully permissive. Our security forces at Camp Ashraf have and will continue to facilitate legitimate family visits with no interference by either the MEK or anyone else. These visits are also completely open to ICRC and UN observation. The MEK have been the obstacle to establishing a comfortable facility for such family visits.

AS: The MEK claim that the Government of Iraq has not allowed medical personnel or medical supplies into the camp and that this has resulted in the deaths of some women and that others are dying. They want ICRC and UNHCR intervention. What is your response to this allegation?
MR: These allegations are false and baseless.

AS: The MEK’s supporters have paid millions in legal fees to have the group removed from the UK and European Council terrorism lists. Have any of the group’s western supporters offered to help remove these people to their countries?
MR: The GOI has communicated with ambassadors from the European Union and all other countries we suspect have citizens or persons with some claim to residency in their countries. We have asked them to offer to allow those with status in their countries to return and to consider hosting others who may want to reside in their countries. We have facilitated visits by representatives of these countries to Camp Ashraf. We are hopeful that this level of openness and transparency by the GOI will persuade these countries to allow such returns.

AS: In your view, what can the UK, European and other western governments do to help resettle the MEK?
MR: These governments can agree to allow their citizens and others who have status in their country to return.

AS: The Washington Post quoted MEK member Mohammad Mohaddessin clearly threatening that self-immolations similar to 2003 and other suicide acts would be performed by the residents of Camp Ashraf. What is your response to this?
MR: We have and will continue to treat the residents of Camp Ashraf humanely and in accordance with Iraqi law and international law and conventions. We will not initiate acts of violence against them. We do expect them to cooperate in our efforts to exercise our sovereignty according to the rule of law. Should they choose extremist acts such as self-immolation, it will be their decision which we would regret.

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