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US must honor its pledges to protect Iranians in Liberty, former UN ambassador demands

The US should honor its promise to protect defenseless Iranians in Camp Liberty, and ensure that the new Iraqi government prevents any further aggressions against them, a former Untied Nations ambassador has demanded.

Ken Blackwell was speaking ahead of the first anniversary of the massacre of 52 members of the Iranian Resistance in Camp Ashraf on September 1, 2013.

He described the tragedy as ‘one of the worst examples of America’s failure to protect’ in recent history.

Writing in the news website The Patriot Post, he said: “Fifty-two people lost their lives in a massacre perpetrated by Iraqi forces under the command of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri-al Maliki and under the direction of the exceptionally anti-democratic regime in Iran.

“All of them died in possession of documents signifying the broken promise of protection that had been offered to them by the United States.

“The Camp Ashraf Massacre targeted Iranian dissidents, members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the principal Iranian resistance movement who had been living in exile in Iraq since the 1980s, conducting the struggle for a democratic homeland from abroad. The victims were all ‘Protected Persons’ under the Geneva Convention.

“Most of them were handcuffed, identified and then executed with a bullet in the head. All of the individuals had signed an agreement with the US, guaranteeing their safety and protection until their final disposition.”

Many Iranian dissidents around the world lost friends and family in the bloodbath who could have been saved if the US had kept its promise, he said.

And now, 3,000 other members of the Iranian Resistance continue to remain in grave danger in Camp Liberty, Iraq, under conditions like those of a concentration camp, he wrote.

He added: “Since the end of the US engagement in Iraq, Iran has steadily exerted more and more influence on the government in Baghdad, as well as the Shiite terrorists roving the country.

“With that Iranian support, Nouri al-Maliki amplified the sectarian conflict in his country, shutting minorities out of the government and ultimately setting the stage for the rise of ISIS.

“And through all of this, democratically-minded Iranian dissidents have been watching the walls of the mullahs’ influence closing around them, waiting for their long-promised relocation to the United States or some other peaceful nation.

“That promise has simply been broken, just as the promise to them was broken when they were given Protected Persons Status by the State Department, but then abandoned to the whims of the Maliki regime.

“All freedom-loving Americans should urge our government to pursue a comprehensive Middle East policy that serves our national ideals and security.

Such a policy would involve, first and foremost, willingness to confront the most oppressive regimes about their violations of human rights and their crackdowns on political dissent.

“Conversely, that policy ought to provide the support that we have sometimes mistakenly withheld from organized forces for democratic change both inside and outside of those countries.”

The US must now demand the new Iraqi government prevent and stop any aggression against camp Liberty and stop daily restrictions against the residents on medical services, medicine, fuel and logistics, Mr Blackwell said.

And Baghdad should recognize the rights of the residents for freedom of movement and should declare its readiness to allow independent investigations by the United Nations on the massacre of September 1, 2013, cooperate with the UN Human Rights mechanisms and hand over the perpetrators to meet justice, he said.

And he added: “When it comes to refugees at Camp Liberty, the US not only has moral obligation, it has legal and contractual commitments to them.

“As a former ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, I urge President Obama and his congressional colleagues to mark the anniversary as a turning point, whereby we commit to making good on our promise to the freedom fighters of Camp Ashraf (now in Camp Liberty).

“We can no longer turn a blind eye to the government ordered killings and violations of human rights.

“With the sorts of challenges that the worldwide struggle for freedom faces today, neither the West nor the Middle East can afford to wait for the second anniversary.”