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WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On 23 August 2012, the Iran Policy Committee (IPC) examined three sets of events regarding Iranian dissidents in Iraq, who are members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) and concluded in a press release that certain actions are necessary to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe as well as to correct wrongs. These events include: 1) A 21 July interview with as well as a 22 July article by a high level whistleblower who is a former official of the UN in Iraq and whose job was to monitor the condition of the Iranian dissidents; 2) The whistleblower’s allegations and his comments on remarks made by a State Department spokesperson on 25 July about the status of the dissidents; and 3) A “goodwill gesture” offered on 17 August by the dissidents to send 400 additional residents from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty, Iraq.
Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney (Ret), former assistant vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force; and Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, U.S. Army (Ret), former Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army, Pacific interviewed the whistleblower, Tahar Boumedra, who had charged that actions of the United Nations against the Iranian dissidents were “a shameful story of hiding the truth and looking the other way when we knew there were violations … complicity with wrongdoers, and neglect of human rights and humanitarian responsibilities.”
Because the Boumedra accusations are in accord with research on Iraq that McInerney and Vallely conducted, they said, “We concur with the allegations of Boumedra and condemn the UN for failure to protect the unarmed innocent civilian Iranian dissidents; going beyond Boumedra, furthermore, we charge the Department of State with colluding against the unprotected to curry the favor of Baghdad and Tehran.” McInerney and Vallely called for “an independent investigation of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), to look into the allegations by Boumedra with special reference to discovering if prosecutable offenses may have occurred under international humanitarian law.”
As former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment in the Reagan and Bush administrations and member of the Advisory Board of the Iran Policy Committee, William A. Nitze, interviewed Boumedra and said, “I concur with the call for an investigation of UNAMI in light of specific charges by one of the most senior UN officials in that part of the world.”
General McInerney applauded the “goodwill gesture” on 17 August by the dissidents to send 400 additional residents from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty, Iraq. “What is not clear,” McInerney added, “is whether there would be a reciprocal move by the State Department regarding the designation of the MEK on the Department’s foreign terrorist organizations list.”
Professor Raymond Tanter, President of the IPC and former senior member of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, stated that, “Although IPC research shows that linkage of designation of the MEK to non-statutory criteria, such as cooperation in Iraq, is not in accord with the June 2012 Federal Appeals Court ruling ordering the Secretary of State to make a determination on the status of the MEK by 1 October 2012, the Department of State has an opportunity to act now, and do what some 100 bipartisan Members of Congress have asked it to do, i.e., to delist the MEK,” added Tanter.
Tanter asked Boumedra for a response to remarks of 25 July by the State Department spokesperson. Victoria Nuland who stated, “The Government of Iraq has recently taken constructive steps … On July 15, it transported from Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya [Liberty] a cargo convoy of 300 additional air conditioners, several large water tanks, additional generators, and other goods to improve the residents’ quality of life at Camp Hurriya … We commend the Government for these positive measures and for its stated commitment to a peaceful resolution of this issue, which is the only acceptable outcome.”
Boumedra responded by saying, “Such statements contradict Iraq’s officially announced policy of making lives of Ashrafis ‘unbearable.’ Documents are available. It also does not correspond to my own firsthand experience of three and a half years dealing with this matter.”
Boumedra added, “Furthermore, whatever improvement registered, if any, during the last six months in Camp Liberty, they did not happen thanks to the generosity of the Iraqi Government. They are the achievements of Ashrafis at their own expense, despite imposed restrictions on their freedom of movement and contact with the outside world.”
State Department and UN officials concede that living conditions at Camp Liberty are significantly lower than that of the former home of the dissidents in Ashraf. On 1 August 2012, however, the State Department claimed, “Allegations of dire humanitarian conditions at Hurriya [Liberty] are inconsistent with observations made by U.S. Government officials who have visited Hurriya, as well as reporting from UN monitors. Based on these reports, and other information, it is clear that the quality of life at Hurriya exceeds accepted humanitarian standards.”
Notwithstanding Department of State claims, Boumedra said in an interview that the head of the UN in Iraq had “directed his staff to cover up the prisonlike conditions of a relocation camp for Iranian dissidents in reports to the world body.”
On a broader note, Boumedra said, “Camp Ashraf residents have been evicted from their settlement residence of 26 years without due process of law. It is an arbitrary eviction. UN rules on this matter hold that when an eviction takes place, it should be done according to due process, and the State must compensate with similar standards or higher—in any case not lower.”