Sunday, March 29, 2009


British MPs asked for guarantee of Ashraf residents’ rights
A number of British MPs from the main three parties in British Parliament asked that the their government to call on the Iraqi and US governments to guarantee Ashraf residents’ rights according to the international law and to look into this issue as fast as possible.Andrew McKinley, Member of the British Parliament from the Labour Party said in his speech: 'Before the war started in Iraq, my friend Lord Corbett gave the coordinates of Camp Ashraf to the British government hoping that Ashraf residents are safe from bombardment, but it is not clear why they bombed Ashraf.'Brian Binley, the conservative MP from the House of Commons, referring to Muwaffaq al-Rubaie’s remarks regarding the limitations he has considered for Ashraf residents, said: ' Muwaffaq al-Rubaie’s remarks are more similar to those of a 20th century dictator and not to the present century’s. In my view, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie should not be in this position; he is more similar to a mullahs’ mercenary”.

ICJDA to Iraqi Prime Minister: Heart of the problem concerning the residents of Ashraf lies in Iraqi government’s commitments to international law and conventions
3/29/2009 12:20:49 PM
International Committee of Jurists in Defence of Ashraf26 March 2009Honourable Nuri al-MalikiPrime MinisterBaghdadRepublic of IraqDear Prime Minister,We write on behalf of 8,500 lawyers and jurists across Europe and North America, the International Committee of Jurists in Defence of Ashraf (ICJDA) who defend the rights of Camp Ashraf residents, members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). We wish to bring to your attention some very crucial points about your remarks on Al-Iraqiya TV last night regarding the PMOI.We are quite confident that you have been misinformed. In a letter to you on 10 March, the ICJDA requested you in advance that, “In order to neutralize the plots of the regime against the residents of Ashraf and the Iraqi government, we urge you to order that all reports and information given to the Iraqi government which causes doubts about Ashraf and its residents be verified with the ICJDA or the residents of Ashraf. We also urge you to introduce a representative whom you trust so that the ICJDA or the residents of Ashraf could inform you about these kinds of fabrications or plots via this person.’1- Alleging that the PMOI was involved in “suppression of Friday prayers” in Iraq and “murder of many Kurds and Arabs” are absolutely false and simply sheer lies. The Iranian regime claims that the PMOI massacred 150,000 Shiites in southern Iraq in 1990s or ran over Kurds in Kirkuk and Suleimanieh by their tanks or opened fire on Shiites in Hekmat Mosque of Baghdad. It is worth noting that not a single member of the PMOI has ever been to that mosque in Baghdad. Also please note that the PMOI had no presence what so ever in Kirkuk, Suleimanieh or southern Iraq during the war over Kuwait. The documents and statements regarding the evacuation of PMOI camps and centers in northern and southern Iraq before the war on Kuwait, during and after the war had been provided to international bodies and jurists have sent many of these documents to judicial bodies and criminal courts in Iraq. To this end, I wish to refer you to letters on July 31 and October 14 of 2008 and January 14 of 2009.12,000 Iraqi jurists and lawyers also carried out thorough investigations over the Iranian regime’s claims and its disinformation campaign and published their findings three years ago in January 2006 in a statement signed by Iraqi jurists. They expressed their readines to bear witness in any court of justice (See enclosed New York Times, 21 April 2006).The testimony of the United Intifadieh Movement of Shaabania to the Special representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Iraq, Mr. Ashraf Qazi, on 29 May 2007 rejecting the same allegations is also enclosed.Also please find enclosed letter by H.E. Hushyar Zebari to a Dutch court on July 14, 1999, rejecting suppression of Kurdish population by the PMOI.2- Meanwhile, we informed you in our letter on 10 March 2009 saying, ’As the ICJDA has officially announced in various letters addressed to US officials, including Ambassador Crocker on 24 December 2007, David Sutterfield, the State Department’s senior adviser and coordinator on Iraq, on 7 March 2008, and to Iraqi officials, the PMOI is very happy to appear before any impartial court, including in Europe and the US to answer these charges. On 26 February 2008, Rt. Hon. Lord Slynn of Hadley GBE, a former UK Law Lord and judge at the European Court of Justice, requested on behalf of the residents of Ashraf for the ’International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission’, which is affiliated to the UN, to take up the matter’.3- The report submitted to you claiming that the PMOI is “currently involved in helping terrorist operations and the operations of the opponents” in Iraq is absolutely false and untrue. In response to similar remarks, General Caldwell rejected such a notion on 20 July 2006 and said, “The MEK is out at Ashraf in a secure military facility that the coalition forces, in fact, guard on a 24-by-7 basis. They’re under continuous surveillance and control. Their future status does need to be eventually determined, but currently, they’re not operating within the country of Iraq. They’re in a fenced-in facility,… and there is quite a few coalition forces that are there continuously guarding that facility to make sure they in fact are not allowed access out of it, and if it is, it’s a controlled access, where they are in fact are escorted the entire time.”4- In addition, the ICJDA was informed that on Wednesday morning, 25 March 2009, the residents of Ashraf handed a document to the representative of your government, Mr. Salim, for your personal attention. The document contained a comprehensive solution “to end any tension and crisis over the issue of Ashraf” while “respecting the Iraqi government’s sovereignty.” The document which was prepared before your recent remarks concluded, “Notification: Representative of Ashraf residents insisted that, on behalf of Ashraf residents and their leaders in Ashraf and outside Iraq, be recorded and emphasized in this Memorandum of Understanding their feelings and believes that they considerthemselves beside the government and the people of Iraq in their hardship and joy in the path of a secure, stable, democratic, powerful and independent Iraq, and aligned with the ‘Government of Law’ that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has set before his eyes.”5- But at the heart of the problem concerning the residents of Ashraf lies the Iraqi government’s commitments to international law and conventions. In December 2008, the White House, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad stated that your government had submitted written guarantees to respect the rights of Ashraf residents. But on February 28, in a meeting with the Iraqi President, the religious dictator of Iran called for the implementation of a “bilateral agreement” to expel the PMOI from Iraq and said, “It is expected that you and the Iraqi Prime Minister Mr. al-Maliki seriously pursue the bilateral agreements and understandings ... The bilateral agreement on the expulsion of the Monafeghin [the regime’s slanderous term to describe the PMOI] from Iraq must be implemented and we are awaiting this’. He also described the PMOI as ’a source of trouble and corruption’, and strongly protested the removal of the PMOI from Europe’s terrorist list’.Your Excellency do agree that any bilateral agreement that violates the guarantees given the world community by the Iraqi government is null and void and unlawful. Thus, the ICJDA expects you to endorse in any manner you deem appropriate the status and the legal rights of the Ashraf residents in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Humanitarian Law.6- We also urge you to call for an end to repeated remarks and statements by the National Security Advisor Mr. Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie on the expulsion and forced displacement of Ashraf residents. Article 7 of the statute of the International Criminal Court of the Hague considers “Deportation or forcible transfer of population” as a “crime against humanity” and reiterates, “Deportation or forcible transfer of population means forced displacement of the persons concerned by expulsion or other coercive acts …… ’7- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in its letter of 20 March 2007; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a letter on 6 March 2007; and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in the article 45 of its report covering April 1 to June 30 of 2007 state that the residents of Camp Ashraf must not be deported, expelled or repatriated…. Or displaced inside Iraq in violation of the relevant provisions of International Humanitarian Law.8- Repeated emphasis on a terrorist label against the PMOI to justify suppression of Ashraf residents and pressures as well as restrictions against them is an depleted method, lacking legal legitimacy and is unacceptable. The era of using terror label to justify violations of fundamental rights and freedoms and suppression of political opponents has come to its end particularly when six years ago the PMOI voluntarily handed over all their weapons and military equipment to the coalition forces who liberated Iraq (CENTCOM statements on 10 and 17 May of 2003). Seven European court rulings also annulled terrorist designation of the PMOI and the European Union removed the PMOI from its terrorist list last January. It should be noted that the PMOI has never been designated as a terrorist entity by the United Nations and the Security Council resolutions.9- The United States that still maintains the terror designation against the PMOI has a different assessment of Ashraf residents who have all denounced violence and terrorism and have handed over all their military equipment. Following 16 months of screening of every single one of the residents of Ashraf, the U.S. government and the Multi-National Force-Iraq acknowledged their status as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention and senior American officials announced that they found no basis to charge any of them (New York Times, July 27, 2004). Thus, the terror label against Ashrafresidents can no longer be used by the Iraqi government in any way and employing this label is seen by the international community as a means to please the religious dictatorship ruling Iran.10- Protection of Ashraf residents becomes even more obligatory under the RtoP agreement which makes the protection of populations against crimes such as crime against humanity, war crime or genocide, an international duty. In July 2008, the UN Secretary General said, “RtoP is an ally of sovereignty, not an adversary. RtoP seeks to strengthen sovereignty, not weaken it.” This is exactly what we are facing in Iraq. The Iranian regime is trying to eliminate Ashraf residents in a bid to get rid of its opposition on one hand and to undermine the authority of the Iraqi government by increasing meddling in that country on the other.11- In view of the pressures by the Iranian regime on the Iraqi government over the state of the Ashraf residents, the ICJDA as well as the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) strongly believe that it would be better if the U.S. forces took over the responsibilty of protection of Ashraf residents like in previous years within the framework of SOFA agreement. In a letter to President Obama, the President of the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ), which comprises 2,000 Parliamentarians, wrote: ’Consistent with the international obligations of the United States and in the framework of the Right to Protection (RTOP) as well as based on the obligations arising from the agreement between the residents of Ashraf and the U.S. forces, the protection of Ashraf residents is the responsibility of the U.S. forces. I therefore ask you to ensure that the U.S. forces guarantee the protection of Ashraf residents and restore the pre-January 2009 situation, when the U.S. forces were protecting the residents of Ashraf.’(15 March 2009)Dear Prime Minister,If the U.S. forces took over the responsibility of Ashraf protection an imminent human catastrophe could be prevented especially following the February 28 remarks by Khamenei. This would also release your government from pressures by the Iranian regime over Camp Ashraf. No one is seeking to tarnish the image of the new Iraqi government before the eyes of international community over Ashraf crisis.If you do not find the current circumstances appropriate enough to remain committed in practice to the guarantees given to the United States and also to accept the comprehensive solution offered by Ashraf residents to the Iraqi government, we then wish to ask you please hand over the responsibility of Ashraf protection to the U.S. forces.Considering contradictory and confusing remarks by various Iraqi officials, especially by Iraq’s National Security Advisor, we would appreciate very much if you could explicitly announce which Iraqi official represents your government’s position over the issue of Camp Ashraf and whose remarks should be considered credible over this matter by judicial and international authorities.Thank you for your esteemed attention.Yours sincerely,International Committee of Jurists in Defence of AshrafFrançois Serrescc:Hon. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of StateHon. Robert Gates, Secretary of DefenceGen. Raymond T. Odierno, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-IraqHon. Patricia A. Butenis, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, U.S. Embassy, BaghdadHon. Michael Corbin, Minister-Counselor, U.S. Embassy, BaghdadGen. David Quantock, Deputy Commanding General, Multi-National Force-IraqHon. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United NationsHon. Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human RightsHon. Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for RefugeesHon. Jakob Kellenberger, President, International Committee of the Red CrossHon. Irene Khan, General Secretary, Amnesty InternationalHon. Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH

12 women activists arrested in Tehran
Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran said in a statement on March 27th that on March 26, the mullahs’ suppressive agents arrested 12 women’s rights activists on Sohrevardi Street in Tehran. They were arrested on their way to the homes of some political prisoners as part of Iranian New Year, Nowrouz, traditions. The women activists had plans to visit the mourning mother of Dr. Zahra Bani Yaqoub who was mysteriously murdered by the State Security Forces (SSF)-mullahs’ suppressive police-- while in their custody. The group was transferred to notorious Evin prison. According to the families, the female detainees included, Khadijeh Moqadam, Farkhondeh Ehtesabian, Delaram Ali, Leila Nazari, Mahboubeh Karami, Shahla Forouzanfar, Soraya Yousefi and Bahareh Bahrevan. Male activists who were arrested included, Ali Abdi, Amir Rashidi, Mohammad Shourab, Arash Nasiri Eqbali. Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, Chair of the NCRI’s Women’s Committee, condemned these arrests and said, “The clerical regime in its final stage, feared of the increasing public hatred especially by women, cannot tolerate even the most basic activities such as traditional Nowrouz. The regime is determined to stop the spread of protests at all costs. Ms. Chitsaz called on all human rights organization and in particular the women’s rights groups to adopt urgent measures to free the detainees.