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Warning on exploitation of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) by religious fascism ruling Iran against Iranian main opposition

NCRI – According to reliable information obtained from inside Iran, last month a delegation of the ICRC  travelled from Tehran to Baghdad  to establish so called family relationships favored by the Iranian regime, in order for the residents to return to Iran and submit to the “Islamic Republic.”

An internal report of the mullahs’ regime states: “The situation in Camp Liberty is very harsh and like prison which would make people think about their families and return to Islamic Republic.

The ICRC’s plan was to take its doctors and help the disabled. But, it was too early and the transfer from Ashraf has not been completed yet. The person responsible for Ashraf in Iraq’s Foreign Ministry promised to do all he can to help and the United Nations agreed too but those responsible in Camp Liberty did not accept. Therefore, we must see what will happen in coming weeks. In this regard, the help of the ICRC will be effective if it can speak every day with 20 people. If the Government of Iraq (GoI) puts pressure and makes the living conditions harder every day, then they will be forced to return. We have talked to the GoI and UNAMI that if the number of such people is significant, they should create a separate facility for them in Camp Liberty.”

It seems that following the defeat of psychological war against Ashraf residents using 300 loudspeakers which continuously cursed and threatened the residents for 677 days under the pretext of “Mojahedin families”, bloodthirsty Gestapo of the mullahs in Iran is once again trying to abuse the ICRC against Ashraf residents who have moved to Camp Liberty and has got the ICRC’s Tehran office involved with a pre-defined scenario and 500 so called family letters to work against residents of Liberty.

On Monday, April 30, 2012, the UNHCR which is based outside Liberty perimeter, called 17 residents as usual for identity verification and interview. But, surprisingly, 7 of them were faced with the ICRC representatives instead of the UNHCR. They said they had come there to bring family letters and arrange family reunion.

4 of these seven people were family members of the executed Abdulreza Rajabi (Member of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran – PMOI) who made telephone calls to their family members in Norway. Abdulreza Rajabi was executed after torture in Gohardasht prision on October 28, 2008. His family has been living in Ashraf since 2004. His daughter, Faezeh Rajabi was among the residents who were killed by direct shots from the Iraqi forces on April, 8, 2011.

Three people who had been called to meet the ICRC representative under the cover of the UNHCR, strongly protested against this behaviour and bringing letters arranged by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) to persuade them to give up their struggle against the regime. They also protested to the UNHCR that had passed their information to the ICRC without their consent. They contacted their lawyers to file a complaint. It was not clear why the person or persons were called for ID verification and interview by the UNHCR and then they were unknowingly faced with such known methods of the Iranian regime which has long history with regards to Ashraf residents.

Iranian resistance emphasizes that any direct or indirect involvement of the religious dictatorship ruling Iran which is the central banker of global terrorism in the case of the PMOI is a red line which cannot be crossed since it is playing with lives of thousands of freedom fighters and defenceless people and their families inside Iran. It also warned that the ICRC should not be manipulated and abused by mullahs ruling Iran to be used as a leverage for putting  pressure on the regime’s opposition. Parts of the past history of this issue appear below:

1- It is common knowledge that for three decades the mullahs’ MOIS has taken hostage those families of the Iranian resistance members in Iran who have been unwilling to cooperate with the Iranian regime against their own children and families. So far hundreds of such cases have been revealed by the Iranian resistance.

The MOIS’s campaign for writing letters and arranging “family contacts” to persuade Ashraf residents to return and submit has escalated increasingly after the war in Iraq. Names of the arrested and tortured families, who were not willing to cooperate with the Iranian regime, have been published and the details have been presented to the United Nations, UNAMI, the US officials and other International bodies. The latest list updated until November 2011 included 175 family members in Iran who were subject to torture and pressure for the same reason was submitted to all the relevant bodies and authorities. (List attached – No 1)

2- Six years ago, the scandal of letter writing and family contacts campaign by the MOIS reached a point that the deputy commander of the US forces protecting Ashraf, wrote in an official letter on June 4, 2006, “Over the past several months JIATIF has been  an increase in the number of “family contacts” requests from the  ICRC,  and the PMOI have been very cooperative in facilitating JIATIF’s visits with these individuals…

Many of the residents of Ashraf express concern over the true intent of those requesting to establish contact, and in order to address their concerns we now offer them the opportunity  to provide written responses to the ICRC concerning each request.” (Letter attached – No 2)

3- On December 16, 2007, when the U.S. forces were still in charge of protecting Ashraf, the ICRC committed itself that it would not be exploited by the Iranian regime against the main opposition force, once again. The head of the ICRC delegation in Iraq wrote to the legal advisor of Ashraf residents: “We once more underline that we understand the concerns expressed, and in particular would like to stress again that there is absolutely no obligation on the side of the residents of Ashraf to receive the requests, reply to their relatives, or acknowledge their presence in Ashraf. This way, we believe that no undue pressure is exercised”. (Attached letter – No 3)

4- On April 20, 2009, i.e. three months prior to July 28 and 29 massacre, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance in an elaborate letter to the President of the ICRC warned that the position of the ICRC regarding the relocation of Ashraf residents, that was stated in a letter to the GoI,  undoubtedly “would be considered as a green light from the ICRC for forcible displacement of Ashraf residents. I am confident that the officials of ICRC can imagine the potential tragic consequences of such a letter”.

In the letter, Mrs. Rajavi described the ICRC’s silence and inaction regarding the unique situation of Ashraf incomprehensible and unexplainable. In particular since “from the start of 2008, representatives of the Iranian Resistance in meetings with and letters to the representatives of the ICRC in Geneva and Baghdad warned of the dangers in transferring the protection of the residents of Ashraf from the US to Iraq. They urged the ICRC to oppose such a transfer or at a minimum write privately to the residents of Ashraf to express its opposition to this transfer. Unfortunately, however, the ICRC refused to take this crucial position”.

5- While referring to the point that the ICRC, has tacitly articulated “facilitating family contacts” as its most important mission regarding Ashraf, Mrs. Rajavi wrote: ” Contrary to the malevolent propaganda by the clerical regime and its agents in Iraq, thousands of relatives of Ashraf residents have met with them in the Camp over the past six years and have spent days sometimes weeks in Ashraf and have returned with no problem occurring in Ashraf and in Iraq. If ICRC wishes to facilitate family contacts, it would be better to do two very important things which would have constructive results in line with its objectives:

Firstly, to question Iraqi forces for preventing families from entering Ashraf and condemn their move in this respect and do not allow this inhuman trend to continue. Where in the world do the authorities prevent fathers and mothers to see their children at their residence or prevent meetings between cousins? In which democratic country do the authorities prevent people to see their relatives in prison?

Secondly and more importantly, to condemn the Iranian regime for imprisonment and torture of families who had been to Ashraf to see their children or arrested families at the airport planning to go to Ashraf to see their children. ICRC is fully aware of this matter. This has been reported by the media and the Iranian Resistance has also informed the ICRC with full details. You are aware that many of those arrested were elderly fathers and mothers some of whom as old as 80 years. Indeed, what has the ICRC done for these families?”

6- Mrs. Rajavi pointed out: ” But this regime, as you may know, does not just imprison and torture the families. It also tries to use the families against their children, the PMOI and Ashraf residents by threats and intimidations or giving them false information to cause anxiety among them. I must admit that sometimes I receive letters and messages from Ashraf asking me whether the ICRC’s task is merely to deliver letters to families while this can be easily done on the Internet. Many of them complain and say that the regime is behind most of these letters and they are ready to prove it in any court. They say that the regime, without the ICRC knowing about it, uses this international body to complete its information on PMOI”.

7- Whilst providing a list of threats facing the life and security of Ashraf residents, Mrs. Rajavi underscored three months prior to the first massacre at Ashraf: “It is the duty of international organizations, especially the ICRC, to prevent such a human catastrophe from happening. This requires the ICRC to take a position on this matter as it is recognized as the main guardian of the IHL… therefore, Ashraf is a test of the ICRC’s role and effectiveness as well as its historical position”.

In the conclusion of the same letter Mrs. Rajavi stated: “Please define the ICRC’s mission as regards Ashraf and if we, the residents of Ashraf and the Iranian community misinterpret this mission, please correct us”. (The letter is attached- No 4).

8- The representative of Ashraf residents wrote to the ICRC on May 26, 2009, i.e. two months prior to the first massacre at Ashraf, that the recent positions and policies of the ICRC are shocking since we face remarks and statements that in practice “the outcome of such remarks can be assessed as nothing but paving the way for plots against Ashraf residents, their suppression and massacre by prosecution and under a judicial cover”.

The Ashraf representative, cited the Financial Times article of June 20, 2007 that had written: “What Tehran wants is a complete dismantling of MEK paramilitary forces, starting with a screening process in which the Red Cross would arrange reunions between MEK members and their families. Members opting to return to Iran would get an amnesty”.

The ICRC representative added:  “Thus, we are also extremely astonished by the ICRC’s manner of approach and contacts with the Iranian regime and elements of its Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). While you are too cautious about your remarks in defense of the rights of Ashraf residents, you do not appear to deny or condemn the Iranian regime’s abuse of its relations and contacts with the ICRC”. In addition, you also mention the ICRC’s responsibility for “family reunion” in such circumstances where you know full well that families are not allowed to go to Ashraf to visit their children or relatives as they used to do in the past six years.

Besides, Ashraf residents have been refused access to their lawyers and international humanitarian delegations”.  (Letter is attached- No 5)

9- The Tribune de Genève,  reported on August 6, 2009: “On July 28 and 29 the Iraqi Police initiated the raid that resulted in 11 death, dozens wounded, and 36 hostages.”

Eric Sottas, from “World Organization Against Torture” who was discomforted due to the fact that the ICRC was challenged and was under question and Jean Ziegler, on behalf of “International Geneva” condemned the criminal passivity of the world against this tragedy…. Paolo Casaca, the Portuguese parliamentarian,  who visited Camp Ashraf on  several occasions in his protest stated: “I don’t understand why the ICRC did not say anything on Ashraf and did not visit it subsequent to the massacre.” (attachment No 6)

10- Three and a half months after the first massacre at Ashraf, on November 15, 2009, the legal advisor of Ashraf residents to the ICRC wrote: ” It seems very suspicious the ICRC delegation in Tehran has collected 200 letters addressed to the residents of Ashraf. It clearly indicates the fingerprint of the Iranian mullahs’ Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). However, you may forward the letters to me same as before, and I will pass them to the addressees”.

The legal advisor reminded: “On Oct 19th, the representative of Iraqi government gave an ultimatum to Ashraf residents to leave Ashraf and move to Samava deserts close to borders of Saudi Arabia by 15 Dec  2009, otherwise they will be forcibly displaced and that the GoI would not hesitate to repeat the events of July 28 and 29.  He justified such a brutal displacement by referring to  ICRC’s letter to Iraqi officials on April 17, 2009”. (The letter is attached- No 7).
11- In April 2010, the Bureau of the mullahs’ MOIS in northwestern Iran, the “Nejat Association of Western Azerbiajan Center”, reported on  a speech by a representative of the ICRC against Ashraf residents, addressing the gathering of the “families” of PMOI members at that bureau. The ICRC representative was quoted as saying that the PMOI did not allow the ICRC representatives into Ashraf. This blatant lie was strongly protested by the National Council of Resistance of Iran  and the International Committee of Jurists in Defence of Ashraf (ICJDA). (Statements are attached- No 8) and (attached- No 9).

12- In the statement of the ICJDA it was reiterated: “Regrettably, this is not the first time that representatives of the ICRC are taking part in events organized by MOIS (Nejat Association) whose aim is to suppress and annihilate the PMOI, in particular the Ashraf residents. Khamenei’s advisor had earlier stated that to dismantle the PMOI, they intend to use the ICRC to organize meetings between members of the PMOI and their families (The Financial Times, June 20, 2007).

The last time that a delegation from the ICRC visited Ashraf was on February 25, 26 and 27, 2009. After that, no delegation from the ICRC visited Ashraf. Therefore, no one could have possibly obstructed the ICRC delegation to visit Ashraf or speak to the residents. The ICRC did not even visit those killed or wounded after the brutal attacks of July 28 and 29. It was only on October 7, when the 36 Ashraf residents who had been taken hostage by the Iraqi forces returned to the camp, that two ICRC representatives accompanied them to Ashraf”.
13- The statement added: “The remarks attributed to the “ICRC representative” with regards to support for Iraqi government decision to close down Ashraf and displacement of the residents and reiterating that “in this case (closure of Ashraf) the ICRC can easily go there (Ashraf)” clearly unveils the intention of the mullahs by making such false claims. Anyone with minimum knowledge of the Iranian regime’s influence in Iraq would know that displacement of Ashraf residents would be a prelude and a pretext for their massacre.

All family letters to Ashraf residents delivered by ICRC have been handed over to persons concerned immediately although everybody knows well that the main motive behind writing these letters has been the MOIS and Nejat Association. Over the years, the families of Ashraf residents could exchange letters with their relatives in the camp and to contact with them and there was no need to use the ICRC services. This is an established fact that has been verified by the ICRC as well.”

While the residents of Ashraf are under a cruel comprehensive siege at the behest of the Iranian regime and for the past 15 months their families and lawyers as well as the human rights activists have not been allowed into the camp and strict restrictions have been imposed on the entry of fuel, medicine and specialist doctors to Ashraf, we hope that the ICRC, by denying such false remarks, would not allow the clerical regime to take advantage of the organization to further suppress the Ashraf residents”.

14- The ICRC’s questionable functions with regards to Ashraf residents are not limited to the issue of families and are extended to many other areas. The representative of Ashraf residents outside Iraq in a letter to the President of the ICRC on July 1, 2010 wrote: ” As you are aware, and as I have informed you by way of numerous letters, Ashraf residents and their relatives and sympathizers in Iran and across the world are extremely disappointed for the ICRC’s unexpected approach over the past three years with regards to Camp Ashraf and for the ICRC’s failure to answer scores of their questions. They hold the ICRC accountable and responsible at least for failing to prevent the unlawful transfer of protection of Ashraf residents to Iraqi forces, the catastrophe that took place last July, and the 18 months of unlawful and unjust siege that has been imposed on Ashraf.

As someone who has deep respect for the ICRC and its ideals and objectives, I can say with confidence that never in the last three decades, the ICRC’s policy has so much benefited the religious fascism ruling Iran like it has in practice over the past three years.

The residents of Ashraf, over the past three years, have encountered a number of significant problems regarding which the ICRC, despite being aware of their gravity, had a negative role, or at best, an ineffective one. Some of these issues were: the transfer of protection from U.S. forces to Iraq, forcible displacement of Ashraf residents, the attack on Ashraf on 28 and 29 July 2009 and its consequences, the continued presence of agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence at Ashraf’s main gate and the psychological torture of Ashraf residents since early February 2010, the unjust siege of Ashraf since the beginning of 2009, and the departure of U.S. forces from Ashraf that is currently being considered.

We are not in a position to know the exact reasons behind the ICRC’s policy. Nevertheless, we are aware of some developments, the coincidence of which with the ICRC’s policy toward Ashraf is quite questionable.

Firstly, the Iranian regime has started a very extensive and intense attempt since a few years ago to manipulate the ICRC against Ashraf residents and in favor of its ominous intentions. The regime’s requests from the ICRC for the eradication of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) in Camp Ashraf were even picked up by the press; nevertheless, it remains puzzling that the ICRC did not find it necessary to take any stance against it…

Secondly, while Switzerland’s exports to Iran in 2003 ranked fifth in Europe (after Germany, France, the UK and Italy), the country’s rank jumped to second right after Germany just three years later in 2006, leaving France, the UK and Italy behind. Such exports amounted to 3.5 billion dollars in 2008. Everybody knows how important and influential this would be to a country like Switzerland with a population of about 12 percent of those of Italy, France or Britain, and the significance it bears on its policies toward Iran. I think that you, as a seasoned Swiss diplomat, are well aware of it. It is also well known that a large number of Swiss merchants and industrialists are in Iran. It is also well known that the governments of Switzerland and the U.S. are two of the main sources of the ICRC’s budget.

Thirdly, the extensive and growing political and diplomatic ties between the Iranian regime and Switzerland, at a time when the Iranian regime today faces a mounting international isolation, has constituted one of the exceptions in the Iranian regime’s diplomacy with western countries.

The painful memory of the assassination of Professor Kazem Rajavi in Switzerland and the shocking closure of its case in this country without any condemnation of the Iranian regime’s top officials who ordered for this assassination is still a cause of disappointment for Iranians. The Berlin Court condemned in subsequent years the regime’s top officials for their terrorist act at Mykonos restaurant.

Fourthly, we know that the religious fascism ruling Iran and its embassy in Baghdad have repeatedly encouraged Nouri al‐Maliki’s government to use ICRC as leverage against Ashraf residents…

Fifthly, the ICRC’s relations with the Iranian regime and its governmental organizations and institutes (although disguised as NGOs) have expanded astonishingly over past three to four years, whereas during this same period, human rights organizations and UN rapporteurs have been banned from traveling to Iran, due to which the Iranian regime has been extensively criticized. You are surely aware that the ICRC never enjoyed such resources in Iran, neither during Ali Khamenei’s presidency in the 1980s, nor Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s term in the 1990s, nor Mohammad Khatami’s presidency. We wish that the ICRC could have explained the reasons for the Iranian regime’s opening for the ICRC during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency. As you know, he is a former notorious torturer of Evin prison who personally fired coup de grace shots at the political prisoners and witnesses have testified to this on numerous occasions”. (The letter is attached- No 10)

15- Inaction and silence on the part of ICRC, following April 8, 2011 massacre in Ashraf is also  astonishing.  ICRC delegations that extend so much concern over letters and family connections, didn’t even bother to stop by Ashraf to see the bodies of 36 killed and bodies of injured victims, including 22 who were run over by Iraqi armored vehicles, so they can report their condition to their families.  Nor have they followed up in any way for the body of Mr. Amir Mostofian (Member of the PMOI) who died on the Iranian new-year eve bearing extensive pressures following the hurried move.  The ICRC could at least inform the brother of Mr. Mostofian in Germany, a month and a half after he passed away, about the whereabouts of his body and provide some reason why it has not been given to his family and friends until now.

16 – As the Iranian Resistance stated in a statement dated April 25, 2012, “Iranian Resistance condemns any talks with the religious dictatorship ruling Iran and its involvement in the case of People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and Camp Ashraf. Such involvement is illegal, illegitimate, immoral, unacceptable, and in clear violation of international laws and conventions particularly those on refugee rights and Fourth Geneva Convention.  This is a red line that in no way should be crossed as it involves lives of thousands of defenceless refugees and their family members inside Iran.”

17- The Iranian Resistance warns that ICRC should not become an instrument of the mullahs ruling Iran or be misused by them and become their suppression apparatus against their opposition.  The Resistance calls on Mr. Klenberger, President of the ICRC to prevent all offices and staff members of ICRC from influences and scenarios of the religious fascism ruling Iran against its opposition, and particularly the Mujahedin in Ashraf and Liberty.  That is especially important since the ICRC knows better than anyone, according to its own published surveys and periodic reports, that there has been no impediment for anyone who wanted to go to Iran.  Thus bringing in the mullahs dictatorship in this, has no other justification but to appease to and win favor of a regime that keeps the world record on execution and is the central banker of terrorism in the world.

18- Instead of using vague and immoral tactics for persuading people, family members and remaining relatives of the executed members of the Iranian resistance such as Abdolreza Rajabi, it is expected of the ICRC to make efforts in sending them immediately to their relatives in Norway at the expense of the Iranian resistance.

19- In an official letter to the representatives of Ashraf residents on  March 20, 2007, the ICRC had stated that the residents of Camp Ashraf must not be “displaced inside Iraq in violation of the relevant provisions of International Humanitarian Law (IHL)”.  It was also stated in the same letter that, “The ICRC will continue to monitor the situation and pursue its contacts with the relevant authorities to remind them that the principles of International Law have to be respected with regard to the residents of Camp Ashraf”. (Letter is attached – No. 11)

What is the position of the ICRC now with regards to Ashraf residents’ eviction and putting them against a choice between death in Ashraf or moving to a prison called Liberty and in fact forcibly moving to a place that is missing minimums of international humanitarian standards?

20- Earlier on July 2, 2004 the Commander of Multi-National Forces in Iraq on the signing of the “Agreement for the Individuals of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)” at Camp Ashraf, Iraq announced in his statement that, “The United States has confirmed your status as ‘protected persons’ under the Fourth Geneva Convention and has communicated that determination to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The acknowledgement of this determination will assist in expediting the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in your disposition as individuals in accordance with applicable international law”. (Letter attached – No. 12)

Now the Iranian community and families who have been protesting near the central headquarters of the ICRC in Geneva are asking why the ICRC is silent about the rights and status of their loved ones and remains quiet about the definition and legal status of a camp that has been called a “temporary transit location”?  Is the location a prison or detention center or a refugee camp under international humanitarian standards?

The question of status and the rights of the residents of Camps Ashraf and Liberty is yet to be answered by ICRC.  This is the same question that remains unanswered since the illegal and forcible transfer of protection of Camp Ashraf from American forces to Iraqi forces in disregards of all agreements and the announced status in 2004.  It seems the mission of delivering letters en mass for the mullahs to Ashraf and Liberty has left no time for the world protectors of the international humanitarian laws to answer basic questions.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance
 May 1, 2012