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Press release – for immediate release – 11 September 2013 – Strasbourg

Call for deployment of UN Blue Helmet forces in Camp Liberty and guaranteeing protection and security of Iranian dissidents in Iraq

In a conference in Strasbourg on Wednesday, 11 September, members ofthe European parliament from various political groups called for an independent investigation into the mass execution of Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf on 1 September 2013. Calls were made for linking further EU financial assistance to Iraq to the implementation of a probe and guaranteeing protection and security of Iranian refugees. MEPs reiterated the need immediately to deploy UN blue helmet forces in Camp Liberty in Baghdad where the majority of Iranian refugees in Iraq reside.

This conference was held concurrent with the European Parliament’s September session in Strasbourg and had been organised by the “Friends of a Free Iran” inter-group (FoFI) which has the active support of 300 MEPs from different political groups.

Vice President Alejo Vidal-Quadras said: “This is probably the saddest thing I have seen in my political life. 52 innocent and totally defenceless refugees shot dead one by one, by those who were supposed to protect them.”

“I think however that in these attacks on unarmed and defenceless people, the mullahs are in fact giving a clear signal and message to the rest of the world, they tell us who is their real opposition.”

Mr Vidal-Quadras added : “Ten minutes ago I had a call from a representative of the cabinet of Mrs Ashton. I told him that these seven hostages from Ashraf, including six women have been transferred near the border of Iran and it is clear they want to deport them to Iran. That we expected a very strong message from her to the government of Iraq that if these seven people are not immediately freed and put under UN protection, that would have severe diplomatic and financial consequences for Iraq. And that if these people are taken to Iran and murdered, the EU will do everything to bring the responsible Iraqi people to respond in a court of justice.”

“We are deeply concerned over the plight of the seven hostages, as well as the lack of protection in both camps, which makes the residents vulnerable to further attacks. We call on European leaders, the UN and the US Government to ask for a thorough investigation into this atrocity, to call on the Government of Iraq for the safe release of the hostages and to secure UN protection of both camps until all residents are resettled."

Struan Stevenson, President of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq said: “Had the European leaders and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton paid heed to repeated calls and acted according to their responsibilities, this atrocity could have been avoided.”

He called on Mrs Ashton and EU leader to “conduct an independent international probe into this atrocity and bring culprits to justice, deploy UN Blue Helmets in Camp Liberty, find and free seven Ashraf residents taken hostage on the September 1st attack and admit Camp Liberty residents to their countries.”

He warned that “further inaction under whatever pretext is simply paving the way for a greater massacre of these defenceless Iranian refugees in Iraq.”

Alejo Vidal-Quadras Vice President of the European Parliament

Struan Stevenson President, European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq

Background:

In the early hours of Sunday September 1st, Iraqi Special Forces entered Camp Ashraf, home to Iranian dissidents in Iraq for the past 27 years, and shot dead 52 and abducted 7 of the 100 defenceless residents who had remained in the camp.

The victims were all ‘Protected Persons’ under the Geneva Convention and had remained in Ashraf according to an agreement with the United States, the United Nations and Iraq. According to latest reports, hostages who had been in the hands of forces affiliated with the Iraqi prime ministry have been transferred to al-Amara region bordering Iran to be handed over to the clerical regime.

The UN mission that visited Camp Ashraf on September 2 reported, “the delegation witnessed 52 bodies in a makeshift morgue. All the deceased appeared to have suffered gunshot wounds, the majority of them in the head and the upper body, and several with their hands tied.”

Yesterday, 10 September, two of the major political groups of the European Parliament, issued separate declarations (ALDE and EPP) strongly condemning the mass execution of Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf on 1 September and called for the immediate release of the seven Ashraf residents taken hostage.

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