25 rights groups, personalities urge UN to protect Camp Liberty residentsPublished by International Liberty Association on April 10, 2016
More than two dozen human rights organizations and personalities have sent a joint letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressing concern over the plight of Iranian dissidents besieged in Camp Liberty, adjacent to Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.
Emphasizing their support for the residents of Camp Liberty, the co-signatories refer to the numerous rocket barrages staged against the camp and the necessity for an independent probe into these crimes. The Iraqi government is called on to recognize Camp Liberty as a refugee camp to prevent any further such attacks and to lift the cruel siege imposed on these refugees.
The most recent rocket attack on Camp Liberty took place on October 29, 2015 when 80 rockets rained down on the tiny camp and took the lives of 24 residents and injured many others.
The Iraqi camp management, who have had an irrefutable role in the massacres against the residents, operate under the supervision of Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih Fayyad, known for his illicit relations with Tehran.
The letter, signed by the Every One Group, International Society for Human Rights-Australia and the International Human Rights Organization to name a few, calls for the members of this committee to be replaced and urges the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to put its weight behind the campaign to recognize Camp Liberty as a refugee camp under the UN flag. Other demands raised by the 25 human rights organizations and dignitaries include an end to the blockade on Camp Liberty, respect for the residents’ freedom of movement and full access to medical services and legal representation for the residents.
Holding the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force responsible for the attacks staged against these Iranian refugees, the letter explains how “to this day 141 residents in total have been killed and 27 others have become victims of the medical siege imposed on the camp.”
Iran’s regime is known for being the “record holder of the highest number of executions per capita” and its dismal report card of being “condemned 62 times by various UN organs for its flagrant human rights violations.” This makes it even more vital to provide the international protection to the Camp Liberty residents as they had originally been promised by the UN and U.S.
The letter cites an adequate precedent provided in a U.S. budget bill adopted and signed by President Barack Obama. On the matter of protection of Camp Liberty residents, the bill reads in part: “the United States should take prompt and appropriate steps in accordance with international agreements to promote the physical security and protection of Camp Liberty residents” and “urge the Government of Iraq to uphold its commitments to the United States to ensure the safety and well-being of those living in Camp Liberty.”
Considered an illegal ‘detention center’ based on two opinions issued by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Camp Liberty was also the subject of a recent European Parliament statement issued by 120 NGOs and 170 MEPs. With this very high-note reference, the joint letter calls for major changes in the fabric of Camp Liberty’s Iraqi management team.
The UNHCR must recognize Camp Liberty as a refugee camp to block future massacres against the camp; the siege imposed on Camp Liberty must be completely revoked and its residents must be permitted to enjoy their rights to freedom of movement and free access to medical services and legal representation; the residents’ ownership rights should be recognized by Baghdad to permit them to provide for their heavy resettlement expenses through selling their property in Iraq; and the UN ought to finally assign an independent probe into all the crimes committed against the Camp residents over the past seven years, to bring to justice those officials responsible for these horrific atrocities.