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Maryam Rajavi: 400 Ashraf residents are prepared to go to Camp Liberty at first opportunity

Maryam Rajavi expresses gratitude to Secretary Clinton for humanitarian approach to safety and security of Ashraf residents, and appreciate efforts by UN Secretary General, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Iraq, UNHCR, and Baroness Ashton

• Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, having received assurances and the letter of Mr. Martin Kobler, SRSG for Iraq, announced that as a gesture of goodwill, 400 Ashraf residents are prepared to go to Camp Liberty with their moveable property and vehicles at first opportunity.

• The Secretary General’s statement in this respect, which states that the agreement with the Iraqi Government is a “foundation for a peaceful and durable solution” and the SRSG’s clarifications about this agreement in his letter to Ashraf residents is a good start and his promise to continue efforts to resolve outstanding issues has persuaded the residents to begin relocation based on the statement by Secretary Clinton on December 25 and the SRSG’s letter on December 28, 2011.

• I have emphatically called on Ashraf residents to count on and trust these foundations and statements by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, EU High Representative Baroness Ashton, and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

NCRI – Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, expressed her gratitude for the humanitarian approach by the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her December 25 statement on the situation in Ashraf for reaching a peaceful and durable solution on the Camp’s residents and for her stressing their “safety and security” and that “officials from U.S. Embassy Baghdad will visit (Camp Liberty) regularly and frequently.” She also thanked Ambassador Daniel Fried, the Secretary’s Special Representative on Ashraf for his efforts in this regard.

Mrs. Rajavi repeated the readiness of Ashraf residents to relocate to Camp Liberty with minimal assurances and underscored: The residents of Ashraf welcome Secretary Clinton’s statement and, naturally, anything that would be contrary to the spirit and letter of the statement would be unacceptable to them.

Having received the assurances and the letter of Mr. Martin Kobler, SRSG, to Ashraf residents, Mrs. Rajavi announced: Despite the December 25 and 27 attacks with 107mm rockets on Ashraf, and the continuation of various provocations in Baghdad and around Ashraf, as a gesture of goodwill, 400 residents are prepared to go to Camp Liberty with their moveable property and vehicles at first opportunity. The relocation of the first group of residents is, at the same time, a test of the Iraqi Government’s attitude toward the commitments it has given to the United Nations and the United States.

Mrs. Rajavi also expressed her profound gratitude and appreciation for the efforts of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; SRSG, Ambassador Martin Kobler; UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres; EU High Representative Baroness Ashton, Special Advisor to EU High Representative, Amb. Jean de Ruyt; European Parliament Vice-President Alejo Vidal-Quadras; and Head of European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Iraq, Struan Stevenson; as well as distinguished US personalities and parliamentarians from over 40 countries for their efforts to prevent violence and bloodshed and for seeking a peaceful solution.

The Iranian Resistance’s President-elect pointed out that the Iraqi Government had unfortunately not accepted her participation or that of representatives of Ashraf residents and their lawyers in negotiations related to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the UN. As the UN statements have pointed out, the SRSG was only a facilitator in the negotiations. As a result, the MOU has not sufficiently emphasized on the minimal assurances and was therefore not acceptable to Ashraf residents. But the categorical emphasis by Secretary Hillary Clinton, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Baroness Ashton, António Guterres, and in particular the letter by Amb. Martin Kobler, contained the crisis and resolved the very complex problem.

The UN Secretary General stated: “He believes that the agreement lays the foundation for a peaceful and durable solution to the situation, respecting both the sovereignty of Iraq and its international humanitarian and human rights obligations,” and “that any violence or attempt at a forcible solution would be unacceptable.”

Addressing Ashraf residents and their leadership, Baroness Ashton stressed: “They should be reassured by the terms of the MOU and the commitment of UNAMI and the United States to ensure a robust monitoring. Thanks to this, the entire International Community will be able to follow closely the whole process and the EU intends to bring its support to this whole arrangement… and will continue to follow very closely the implementation of this agreement.”

Mr. António Guterres declared: “UNHCR is fully engaged in this initiative and looks forward to the voluntary and peaceful transfer of the asylum seekers to a temporary site so that UNHCR can proceed immediately with the determination of their status…”

Finally, the SRSG’s clarifications about the MOU in his letter to Ashraf residents persuaded them to relocate based on the statement by Secretary Clinton on December 25 and the SRSG’s letter on December 28, 2011. I emphatically urged Ashraf residents to count on and trust these foundations and statements by UN Secretary General, EU High Representative Baroness Ashton, and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

The SRSG stressed:
“The MOU is a good start. It outlines the process of relocation to camp liberty which will take place exclusively under the security responsibility of the Government of the Republic of Iraq. The Government of the Republic of Iraq ensures your safety and security both during the transportation from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty and in Camp Liberty itself until the time comes when you leave Iraq.

“Given the short time it was not possible to address all your requests. Many issues will have to be arranged between you and the representatives of the Government of Iraq in Camp Liberty.

“Safe and secure transfer of the residents of Camp New Iraq to Camp Liberty and from Camp Liberty to other countries is ensured in the MOU.

“Upon arrival of the residents to Camp Liberty, the United Nations will conduct 24/7 monitoring at Camp Liberty until the residents leave Iraq.

“I am aware of your request for respect for your privacy in particular regarding women. I will continue my efforts with the Government of the Republic of Iraq in this regard to establish the appropriate arrangement, with the agreement of the Government of Iraq, which would respect the sovereignty of Iraq.

“With regard to other issues, such as assets and properties, we will continue the discussions towards reaching a solution that would respect the property rights of the residents in an organized way”.

Mrs. Rajavi added that contrary to what is said about the Iraqi Government not knowing about the number or identities of the Ashraf residents and what goes on in this city, I must bring to your attention:

First – from April 5 to 9, 2009 in a span of five days, the Iraqi Government fingerprinted, registered, and identified every single Ashraf resident, without exception;

Second – The Iraqi Government privately and individually interviewed all Ashraf residents, under supervision of US forces and International Committee of the Red Cross, from February 26 to April 22, 2009 at the headquarters of the Iraqi battalion. During these interviews, 11 persons decided to leave Ashraf and Iraqi state television broadcast these individuals’ repentance in the presence of Iraqi security officials on April 15, 2009;

Third – The Iraqi Government searched all buildings and facilities and all grounds and each single resident in Ashraf including women’s personal effects with a trained police dog unit for three days on April 18, 19, and 20, 2009. The official signed document of this search is available on request.

Fourth – Before the attacks of July 28 and 29, 2009, a representative of the Iraqi Government, Mr. Salim, was resident inside Ashraf and had unfettered access to every place in Ashraf 24/7.

In addition, after the United States transferred the protection of Ashraf to Iraqi forces in early 2009, Ashraf residents warmly welcomed the Iraqi forces. They also handed over $10 million worth of buildings and facilities to the Iraqi forces which the residents had built with their own funds in over two decades.

While underlining the red lines of the Ashraf residents in not surrendering to the religious fascism ruling Iran and the demands of its supreme leader, Mrs. Rajavi recounted the successive flexibilities shown by Ashraf residents, which were ultimately reflected in accepting the UN and US plan. They were:

– Yielding on a 26-year right of residence and asylum in Iraq, outlined in 22 legal opinions by the preeminent legal scholars across the world;

– Accepting the European Parliament plan for leaving Iraq for third countries;

– Accepting the UNHCR’s recommendation to submit individual applications for refugee status and to declare readiness for individual and private interviews;

– And finally, accepting the US and UN plan to leave Ashraf, a barren and arid piece of land, which thousands of residents transformed to a modern city in 26 years, through their toil and extensive cost. They built a university, a library, a museum, a hospital, a power station, a cemetery, a mosque, a lake, parks, sports and recreation facilities, and underground bomb shelters to defend themselves against the Iranian regime’s repeated bombings and Scud-B missile attacks.

In conclusion, Mrs. Rajavi, once again thanked all officials, personalities, parliamentarians, and jurists who worked towards a peaceful solution and called for an immediate end to the siege, restrictions, and provocations against Ashraf residents. She called for the international community’s maximum vigilance to protect the lives and rights of Ashraf residents and to record every single breach of the items stipulated in the letter by the SRSG and in the statements by the UN Secretary General and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, until the last person has left Camp Liberty for third countries.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
December 28, 2011