NCRI – The UNAMI’s press release of January 31 in Baghdad about Camp Liberty being ready to accommodate 5,500 persons in accordance with the international humanitarian standards claimed: “UN certifies that new camp for Iranian exiles meets international standards” (UN NEWS CENTER).
These claims are absolutely untrue and its sole use is to bypass Iraqi government’s obligation to humanitarian and human rights standards and to justify the ominous intentions of the religious fascism ruling Iran for annihilation of the main opposition force of that regime.
1. The MOU signed on 25 December 2011 by Mr. Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, and the Government of Iraq explicitly says: “GOI ensures ‘The transit locations meet humanitarian and human rights standards’”, whereas nobody has yet certified these standards in regard to Camp Liberty. In the UNAMI statement of January 31 which has claimed that the camp has been certified within the frame of the Memorandum of Understanding, “human rights” standards have been completely forgotten.
Technical assessment is merely assessing whether there are sufficient water taps, toilets and showers. It has been specified in the assessment that in six parts of the camp’s seven sections, even these facilities are not yet functioning and with regards to the only section which is ready, doublts have been expressed about the complete functionality of these facilities.
2. While Ashraf residents and their representatives have constantly asked Mr. Kobler to guarantee minimum assurances in the context of humanitarian and human rights standards, ironically, a ‘shelter expert’ has been employed surprisingly to assess Camp Liberty technically over issues such as the number of water taps, showers and toilets in a bid to approve the camp only based on these parameters.
On January 26, UNHCR wrote to Ashraf residents’ lawyers: “UNHCR for its part, has sent a shelter expert to advise the Government of Iraq…”.
3. Then on January 30th, we face a “Technical assessment of temporary transit location” signed by Ms. Claire Bourgeois, the UNHCR representative. The next day, Mr. Kobler announces Camp Liberty to be ready to accommodate 5,500 persons based on international humanitarian standards and says: “I am grateful to the UNHCR and the Human Rights team for their expertise”.
The mission of shelter expert employed by the UNHCR seems to have not been providing consultation to the Government of Iraq, rather to provide, in essence, a report for Mr. Kobler; and to this end, his report, simply being a technical and professional report had been given to Mr. Kobler for modifications.
4- But there are remarkable points in this “Technical assessment”:
– There is no potable water in Liberty; bottled water must be purchased by the residents. Service water must be supplied by the residents themselves.
– Camp liberty also has a health center to be staffed and stocked. (Simply means the trailers with no staff and stock that could be turned into a health center at a later time!)
– Infrastructure for the disabled persons including ramps, stairs and sanitary facilities do not exist and should be constructed by the residents!
– Dinning facility is available with seats for more than 700 people (not 5,500)
– It is foreseen that the equipment for the health center will be brought in by the residents; therefore, at the moment, there is no health centre in Liberty (simply means the same experience as in Ashraf is being repeated in which the residents placed their own medical equipment at the disposal of Iraqi forces who made a torture center out of so called “New Iraq Hospital” causing the death of 12 individuals due to medical siege).
– According to final assessment on January 28th, Camp Liberty is prepared for immediate accommodation of only 800 persons.
– The camp has been divided into 7 sections, six of which is not ready yet. The assessments are based on availability, rather than functionality, of the infrastructures (water tanks, sewage tanks, generator sets, etc.).
– The functionality of the kitchen equipment, the number and the capacity of sewage and water tanks and the generator sets are not mentioned in the “Technical assessment”.
– On the functionality of the heating and cooling systems, while the assessment claims the readiness of these units, it states, “However, the sole functioning of the heating/air conditioning unite does not necessarily indicate that these are in proper working condition”.
– 117,000 square meters of open space mentioned in UNAMI’s press release “providing ample possibilities for exercise and recreation” is nothing but a barren and arid piece of land that should be turned into sport tracks or recreation park by the residents. In reality, there exist no possibilities for exercise and recreation in the camp.
– The most interesting point is that according to the text, the “Technical assessment” has been prepared with the help and cooperation of some Iraqi officers who have played the highest role in the massacres of July 2009 and April 2011 as well as in the siege and suppression of the past three years against Ashraf.
5- The approved area in the technical assessment is for known refugee camps which its residents have freedom of movement to go outside the camp and use public civil services such as parks, sport arenas, mosques, movie theaters and public libraries. This assessment is completely different for Ashraf residents who – according to Mr. Kobler’s statements – have no freedom to go outside the camp and all their vital activities are limited to the land where they live on.
6- It is now quite clear as to why the request of Ashraf residents for visiting Camp Liberty by some of them was denied.
7- Reportedly high concrete walls around Camp Liberty have been equipped with hidden and open cameras, so that along with two police stations and added police observation posts inside the camp, it would be nothing less than a prison.
8- No one is allowed to exit the camp and residents’ access to even the UNHCR’s location and the UN monitors near the camp is not possible. If someone wants to go to the UNHCR’s location or the UN monitors outside the camp, he must go there in military vehicles accompanied by Iraqi armed personnel.
9- Signing contracts with companies and contractors for daily necessities including potable water is only allowed if the companies and contractors are not on the Iraqi government’s blacklist. Garbage transport outside the camp must be performed by contractors. The residents are responsible for sewage discharge and special vehicles are to be provided by them and at their expense; however, the drivers must be Iraqi police.
10. The Iraqi Government will register the residents’ addresses according to the names of the gravel streets and trailer and room numberings, similar to the wards and cells of a prison. Any UN or embassy visit must be with prior notice of the Iraqi Government.
11. Transfer of the first group from Ashraf to Liberty, which the Iranian regime’s embassy and the terrorist Quds Force are completely informed of its details, will be carried out by Iraqi buses, and the regime’s proxies are scheduled to hurl stones at the Ashraf residents along the way (at Qossayrin three-way). This is similar to the scenario carried out at Ashraf in October, November and December of 2010 and January of 2011.
12. Another unsolvable issue regarding the transfer of Ashraf residents to Liberty is the safety and fate of 200 disabled and wounded residents, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has a list of their names. The WHO representative met with a number of these patients on their beds and wheelchairs on January 19. This is while the briefings presented to the UN Security Council have stressed that to transfer Ashraf residents, the Iraqi Government needs more time to upgrade conditions at Liberty to acceptable humanitarian standards, and WHO and UNHCR must give their approval. They have not yet announced such an approval.
The shameful facts mentioned above raise two fundamental questions that UNAMI and SRSG Martin Kobler must provide clear answers for:
Firstly – What is the legal status of Ashraf residents and those who go to Camp Liberty, and what laws and regulations do they come under? Are they asylum seekers or prisoners? and as the mullahs’ ambassador has said – citing Mr. Kobler – are they considered “terrorist” and according to Mr. Maliki they have no legal designation?
Secondly – Do Ashraf residents truly have the right to choose and relocate voluntarily, or as Mr. Kobler in his meeting with Ashraf representatives on January 28 made them understand very well, if they do not transfer to Liberty under these very conditions, subsequent attacks may be on the way?
The Iranian Resistance with the strongest protest brings to the attention of the UN Secretary General, High Commissioner for Refugees, High Commissioner for Human Rights, the US Secretary of State and the EU High Representative the dangerous scenario of declaring Camp Liberty as ready for 5,500 persons and meeting international standards. It especially urges the UN High Commissioner Antonio Guterres to intervene urgently and at the least, immediately reaffirm the refugee status of Ashraf’s patients along with the disabled and injured residents.
Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
February 2, 2012