Source: French language Swiss daily Tribune de Geneve
By: Andres By Almand
The former advisor to the UN Special Envoy Ban Ki-moon in Geneva denounced the treatment of members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahideen
Tribune de Geneve, August 28 –
“When I saw the place where the Iraqis wanted to keep the members of the Mujahideen, I was immediately reminded of the concentration camp where I lived as a child during the Algerian war of liberation.”
Tahar Boumedra arrived in Geneva yesterday to testify before the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a panel of experts linked to the UN Council of Human Rights.
However, this is not an activist like the others. Until May 5, the date of his resignation, he was in charge of the Office of Human Rights of the UN UNAMI mission to Iraq. Former adviser to Martin Kobler, the Special Envoy of Ban Ki-moon, the Algerian born Boumedra accused his former boss today to cater to the demands of the Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in evacuating the 3400 Iranian dissidents at Camp Ashraf (where the famous Mujahideen members had sought shelter in 1986 under Saddam Hussein) and to the place them “temporarily” in inhabitable Camp Liberty, near Baghdad in a military zone.
The UN refutes the accusations and it still trusts the special envoy Martin Kobler on the thorny issue of the Iranian organization. The United States has still not removed from their blacklist of terrorist groups.
On what do you base these very serious accusations?
It was me who was in charge in December and it was me who had to determine if Camp Liberty was ready to welcome the residents of Ashraf. But I felt that that place was not suitable for 3400 people. And not even ready for the first transfer. However, my report was dismissed. And in the months that followed, I was marginalized. My name was removed from the distribution lists of emails. And I was not allowed to visit the camps.
What are the issues at Camp Liberty?
First, we must see that these people are being transferred from Camp Ashraf, a small town 16 square km with modern facilities, to a former US military camp that has been severely dilapidated. Water valves are inoperative, showers are defective, toilets are down, and it’s a mess. Almost nothing was in working condition. In addition, this camp is 0.6 square km surrounded by high walls that are nearly 4 meters and topped with cameras to monitor people. Inside, there is a police station and Iraqi officers who patrol. Outside, there are military surveillance posts. The main entrance is heavily guarded. One must pass seven check points to access the camp. And it is forbidden for people to contact their lawyers. In short, this is a high security prison, not a transit point for asylum seekers. The UN has deceived these people.
How has the UN lied?
They showed the residents pictures of the places that seemed acceptable. I know, because they were selected among 500 pictures we had taken.
Why does the UN do that? And what do you suspect is the hidden purpose behind this transfer?
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, will only support the UN mission when it is in his interests. Officially, the transfer is supposed to be a step for the residents of Ashraf before receiving asylum in other countries. But behind this humanitarian decision is hidden evil to isolate the Iranian dissidents and to break their will and discipline. Iraqi authorities issued 182 arrest warrants, possibly against the leaders. Iran calls for their extradition. Maliki owes everything to Tehran. Ashraf people cannot trust the government in Baghdad. Twice in July 2009 and April 2011, Iraqi forces entered the camp, killed 47 residents and injured hundreds. No investigation was done, no parliamentarian has visited the camp, nor NGOs. An Iraqi officer involved in the massacres is now even responsible for managing Camp Liberty!
Are the residents of Camp Ashraf blameless? Aren’t the Mujahideen on the terrorist list in the United States?
The Mujahideen have renounced violence and were disarmed by the U.S. forces after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Personally, all I can say is that in the two massacres in Ashraf, not a single Iraqi soldier was even scratched.