Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran urges the United Nations to send UN Blue Helmet Force to Camp Liberty following troubling statements by Iraqi officials:

We are deeply troubled by recent remarks from Iraq’s Justice Minister, Hassan Shammari, calling publicly for the extradition to Iran of members of the PMOI, the main Iranian opposition in Camp Liberty, Iraq. His remarks, which were immediately welcomed by the Iranian Justice Minister, constitute a flagrant breach of international law and conventions in place to guarantee the rights of asylum seekers to basic protection and a decent standard of living while they are still in Iraq. 

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has in several statements recognized the residents of Camp Liberty as asylum-seekers and refugees who must be protected. In addition, the camp residents enjoy the status of Protected Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention after each resident signed a written agreement with the US and Multinational Forces in Iraq following the second Iraq War in 2004.   

PMOI’s opposition to the Absolute rule of Ayatollahs in Iran is a well-known indisputable fact. More than 100,000 of its members and supporters have been executed by the Iranian regime during the last three decades solely for rejecting the current clerical rulers and advocating a popular rule based on freedom and equality as the most viable alternative for future Iran.

It is no secret that they will be subjected to barbaric torture and execution in order to have them denounce political opposition and embrace the absolute rule of the Supreme Leader, if they were to be handed over to the Iranian regime. In fact repeated statements made by various Tehran officials in this regard testify publicly to the regime’s ominous plan for the merciless persecution of the residents of Camp Liberty, either in exile or in Iran. 

Therefore, any attempt to extradite the residents to Iran is a serious breach of the principle of non-refoulment, which calls for a direct and active intervention by the international community to prevent a full-scale humanitarian catastrophe that will jeopardize the lives of 3000 defenseless asylum seekers in Camp Liberty.

Absent an appropriate international response, these recent remarks by Iraqi and Iranian Justice Ministers will have deadly consequences for these defenseless refugees awaiting transfer to third countries under a UN led process.

The UN, US, Canada and EU, have to strongly condemn the Iraqi Justice Minister’s statements as unlawful while reiterating demands that the Government of Iraq fulfill its obligations vis-à-vis the protected persons in Camp Liberty in accordance with international law or face stern legal, diplomatic and economic consequences. The Iraqi authorities should be made aware that any extradition of the Liberty residents to Iran is against the international conventions and that the perpetrators of such crimes will face justice at the International Criminal Court.

We urge the US, the UK and France to use their power as permanent members of the UN Security Council to secure the safety and well-being of these ‘persons of concern’ by securing a permanent UN presence at Camp Liberty through a protective UN Blue Helmet Force to protect these residents until they are safely transferred to third countries.

Meanwhile, the UN and UNHCR should declare Camp Liberty as a refugee camp and provide the residents with group refugee status, a first step to guarantee their safety and security.

Hon. David Kilgour, JD

Co-Chair, Ottawa