Submitted by Pinole United Methodist Church As voted upon 6/17/12 by a vote of 95 aye, 0 opposed, 0 abstain
Contact: Rev. Linda Prendergast. Fiscal Impact: Negligible.
Over three thousand of our brothers and sisters in Iraq are having their human rights taken away. They are being forced by a hostile government to live in prison-like conditions. They have no freedom of movement, access to medical care or legal representation and their lives are in danger.
After the 1979 revolution in Iran, the new rulers embarked on a relentless wave of repression, arrest, torture and execution of those who expressed opposition to their dictatorship. This has resulted in the exodus of many Iranians from their homeland. The neighboring government of Iraq welcomed refugees from the regime; beginning in 1986, a group of these refugees began building a small, modern city in Iraq named Camp Ashraf. As of late 2011, approximately 3,200 people lived there.
After the United States intervened in Iraq and Camp Ashraf came under the control of U.S. forces, the residents surrendered all of their weapons, which they were keeping for their protection, and renounced violence. In return, in July 2004 the U.S. gave each of the residents protected person status under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The United States government gave each person a signed document stating that we would protect them.
In 2009, under the Status of Forces Agreement, the U.S gave control of Camp Ashraf to the government of Iraq. Since then, under pressure from Iran, the camp and its residents have been under continuous harassment by Iraqi authorities. On July 28-29, 2009 and again on April 8, 2011 Iraqi security forces entered the camp, killing a total of 45 people and injuring hundreds.
On December 25, 2011the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the U.N. under which the residents would be moved to an abandoned American base (Camp Liberty) where the U.N. would interview them for refugee status and arrange for them to move to other countries. The MOU specified that the camp must satisfy humanitarian standards under the Fourth Geneva Convention and that residents would be allowed to transfer their movable property and vehicles to this camp. As of June 2012, Roughly 2,000 people have moved to Camp Liberty.
In direct violation of the MOU, the Iraqi government has not allowed residents to bring their movable property or vehicles. There are reports of looting of these items by Iraqi security forces.
The government has enclosed a small corner of the camp with high walls surrounding cramped, dilapidated trailers. American soldiers had used these only as a way station for a few days each before assignment to other locations. The camp suffers from woefully insufficient water, electricity and lack of a properly functioning sewage system. Residents are confined to the camp and are denied access to legal representation or outside medical care. Iraqi forces continually patrol the camp. In effect, this is a prison camp.
Neither the United Nations nor the United States government has acted to insist that conditions at Camp Liberty be corrected or to protect the human rights of residents under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
For additional information, go online to http://www.iran-e-azad.org/ACS/.
WE THEREFORE RECOMMEND ADOPTION OF THE FOLLOWING:
1. The California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church calls for complete protection of the human rights of the residents of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty in Iraq under the Fourth Geneva Convention and adherence to the terms and intent of the Memorandum of Understanding between the government of Iraq and the United Nations.
2. The California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church directs the Conference Secretary to write to President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and congressional representatives for California and Nevada within the bounds of the Annual Conference, informing them of our action, and urging them to act on this issue and honor U.S. promises made in the contracts signed with each and every resident of Camp Ashraf ensuring their protection until the final determination of their status and settlement.
3. The California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church encourages member churches to work closely with the Iranian Americans in their community to facilitate hosting residents of Ashraf and Liberty in the United States. It has been the goal of Secretary of State Clinton and her Special Advisor on Ashraf, Ambassador Daniel Fried, to ensure a safe and timely transition of Ashraf residents out of Iraq. We particularly encourage giving high priority to those who are seriously ill, elderly or young, and to women.
4. The California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, recognizing the urgency of this situation, urges that during the months of July, August and/or September 2012
a. every congregation in our Annual Conference study the situation of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty (including making connections with Iranians living within their local community); and
b. every pastor preach a sermon lifting up the United Methodist Social Principles relating to human rights and treatment of refugees in general, and the residents of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty in particular; and
c. every individual United Methodist within the Annual Conference write to President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and/or their congressional representatives asking them to use the powers of their office to correct this situation.
5. The California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church directs the Conference Committee on Advocacy and Justice to make available through the Conference web site information concerning resources for study and action on the above issues.