Immediate release of seven Ashraf residents taken hostage in iraq demanded
October 19, 2013, Paris -- At an international conference in Paris this weekend, a former U.S. Attorney General, a former Chairman of the Republican National Committee and a firmer Canadian Justice Minister called on the Obama Administration to demand that the Iraqi government immediately release seven Iranian dissidents taken prisoner at Camp Ashraf in Iraq and to provide protection for all members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) who are now being housed at Camp Liberty, also in Iraq.
On September 1, 52 of the PMOI dissidents were murdered in an attack on Camp Ashraf by Iraqi armed forces All were carrying documents identifying them as Protected Persons under the Geneva Convention and international law. Seven additional dissidents, including six women, were taken hostage and removed from the camp.
The Paris conference, , featured leaders from France, the U.S. and other nations who gathered to draw attention, in part, to the treatment of the PMOI in Iraq and to the failure of the UN, the international community in general and the U.S. in particular, and the current Iraqi government to provide for the protection and possible resettlement of the more than 3,000 Iranian dissidents.
In Paris, former U.S. Attorney General and Federal Judge Michael Mukasey said, ““It is important to not just call attention to the September 1 massacre of 52 Iranian dissidents at Camp Ashraf in Iraq and the fact that seven of those dissidents were taken hostage and are today still being held somewhere in Iraq, but also to the ongoing and unacceptable treatment of these members of the MEK by the Iraqi government. We must break that circuit.
“Video shown on CNN and elsewhere clearly shows that the Iraqi government not only allowed, but participated in the murders at Camp Ashraf, as well as the taking of the hostages.
“Iraq Prime Minister al-Maliki’s upcoming visit to the United States is an opportune time for the U.S. government to demand that Iraq’s responsibility for the safety and resettlement of the Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty residents is fulfilled.”
Likewise, Irwin Cotler, Member of Parliament and former Minister of Justice of Canada, maintained that the September 1 massacre at Camp Ashraf was entirely preventable, saying, “Two years ago, the Canadian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously called on the international community and Iraq to provide protection for the Iranian dissidents and initiate resettlement for these ‘Protected Persons’ under international law.
“When Prime Minister al-Maliki comes to the U.S. and meets with President Obama, this tragic human rights issue must not go unresolved. Unfortunately, efforts to deal with the massacre at Camp Ashraf and the treatment of the 3,000 Iranian exiles are being carried out under the atmospherics of an Iranian charm offensive. We must not allow these events and failures to be sanitized in the face of inconvenient truths.
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele agreed, saying, “The attack on Camp Ashraf, the fate of the hostages, and the treatment of those dissidents now housed at Camp Liberty cannot take a back seat to diplomacy when Prime Minister al-Maliki comes to the United States and as the Administration attempts negotiations regarding Iran. U.S. silence about the massacre at Ashraf and the protection of the Camp Liberty residents is a death threat for those people.
“I look forward to al-Maliki’s visit and the discussions that will occur with anticipation that the U.S. will give full voice to the issues regarding Camps Ashraf and Liberty. The conversation needs to make clear that we will, as several Senators and Members of Congress have pledged, tie U.S. aid to Iraq to getting to the bottom of the attacks and to insuring the safety of the Iranian dissidents for whom both the U.S. and Iraq have assumed responsibility.
“The meetings with al-Maliki and the Administration’s current efforts toward Iran should create a new sense of urgency in finally meeting those responsibilities.”
Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of Iranian resistance who was the keynote speaker of the conference said: “It was a series of betrayed U.S. and UN commitments that paved the way for the September 1 massacre; an attitude that continues to this day.”
Referring to the planned trip of Maliki to United States, she asked why the U.S. is not demanding the immediate release of the hostages from Maliki? Why is it willing to welcome a murderer and a criminal to the White House? She added: “Responsibility for the lives of the hostages and hunger strikers at Camp Liberty and five cities around the world, and absolute responsibility for the humanitarian and political consequences rests with the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations who contrary to their lawful obligations have resorted to silence and inaction.