Press release- 1 September 2013
Struan Stevenson, MEP
President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq
The predictable consequence of the West’s failure to take action in Syria manifested itself last night in the brutal massacre of unarmed civilians in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. Around midnight on Saturday 31st August, several battalions of the Iraqi military and special SWAT forces, acting on orders directly from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, stormed the camp under cover of darkness. Anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades and mortars were fired into the sleeping quarters of the refugee camp and the fleeing residents were then machine-gunned. So far, 44 deaths and dozens of severe injuries have been reported. At least 5 residents, including one woman, were handcuffed and then summarily executed by being shot in the back of the head. Injured and other surviving residents have been kidnapped. The systematic massacre continued into Sunday 1st September for many hours and despite repeated pleas for the UN or US to intervene, there has been complete silence and inactivity from both.
This most recent massacre at Ashraf was as avoidable as it was predictable. Many members of parliament, congressmen, senators and leading judicial and military figures in Europe and America have warned for months that a massacre was imminent. One hundred civilian residents had remained in Ashraf following the involuntary re-settlement of over 3,000 refugees to a tiny corner of a former US army base called Camp Liberty, near Baghdad Airport.
The refugees, including many women, are Iranian dissidents, hated by the fascist mullah-regime in Tehran. They were encouraged to leave Ashraf, their home for more than 30 years, on a pledge from the UN and US that they would be quickly re-settled to safe third countries. They have now been incarcerated in appalling conditions described by one UN Working Group as ‘prison-like’ for more than 2 years, while only a handful of residents have been successfully re-settled.
Meanwhile, under the agreement of the UN and US, 100 residents remained behind in Camp Ashraf to negotiate the safe disposal of their movable and fixed properties valued at many millions of dollars. Lawyers employed by the Ashraf residents to negotiate the sale of their properties were threatened by the Iraqi regime and scared off, while Prime Minister al-Maliki, acting on the instructions of his sponsors in Tehran, cut off supplies of water, food and electricity to the camp in an attempt to oust the remaining residents and loot their belongings.