Iran National Television conducted an exclusive interview with Tahar Boumedra, former Secretary General Special Representative to Iraq’s Special Advisor on Camp Ashraf, regarding the current situation of Ashraf and Liberty residents and the UN role in this issue.
What do think about what you witnessed and experienced at Ashraf?
As you know I was with the Ashrafi’s for over three years. I interacted with them on different occasions, both in extremely difficult circumstances and also some times in relaxed environments. They are highly friendly and very truthful in what they are doing, and they are sincere, very sincere people. A lot of stories circulating here and there and I always heard in a very impartial manner the stories of both sides that came out and they stories that came out from the Ashrafi’s has always been the truthful one. That is my experience.
You gave a testimony in the US Congress on the issue of Ashraf and the role of the UN, can you explain about that?
My testimony comes in the spirit of the UN Charter. The UN Charter is there to protect people, not governments. Unfortunately, the experience I witnessed in Iraq, the UN mission was there to help and support the government. Ashrafi’s and making their life difficult and denying them their fundamental rights. And it is in this context that I had to choose between the practices of UNAMI or the fundamentals of the UN Charter. And of course I went for the UN Charter’s principles and values.
You visited Camp Liberty at a time when Martin Kobler described it as meeting international standards; do you think that this camp met the necessary requirements?
I was the first person to visit Camp Liberty, and I visited Camp Liberty nearly every week to assess the situation. We did assess the situation. There were different views on whether that place would accommodate in a decent manner the Ashrafis or not. Whether that place would keep the dignity of the Ashrafi’s. And I personally informed everybody that that place is not ready to accommodate 3400 in a decent way that keeps their dignity. So that was reported but unfortunately, what really gets out of Baghdad doesn’t necessarily represent the situation on the ground or my reports.
Ashraf and Liberty residents have called for Camp Liberty to be recognized as a refugee camp, what do you think about this?
It goes without say if the camp is inhabited by refugees, by definition it’s a refugee camp. And if the UN is dragging its feet on recognizing that camp as a refugee camp, that was in complacency with the government of Iraq.