Iran Focus: Geneva, Jun. 04 – Several leading NGOs urged the United Nations on Thursday to protect 3,400 Iranian dissidents living in a camp 60km north-east of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
Geneva, Jun. 04 – Several leading NGOs urged the United Nations on Thursday to protect 3,400 Iranian dissidents living in a camp 60km north-east of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
The NGOs, including France Liberté, set up by France’s former First Lady Danielle Mitterrand, and the Movement Against Racism (MRAP), delivered a statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on the humanitarian situation in Camp Ashraf, where members of the main opposition group People’s Mojahedin (PMOI) reside.
They urged the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq to increase its mandate over Ashraf to provide a protective force.
Expelling PMOI members from Ashraf, where they have lived for more than 25 years, would constitute a violation of international law, according to Steven Schneebaum, Professorial lecturer on international law at the John Hopkins University in the US and a lawyer representing the US families of Camp Ashraf residents.
“The direct or indirect expulsion of the inhabitants of the Camp Ashraf would violate several international provisions in force since 1950 and incorporated in several conventions,” Schneebaum said at a conference on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council’s 14th session.
U.S. forces guarded the camp until 2009 when Iraqi forces took over.
The Iraqi army attempted to raid the camp last July, killing 11 residents in the process. Hundreds were injured.
Iran has repeatedly asked the Iraqi government to close down the camp and extradite its residents.
“The United States has a moral obligation and a legal duty to protect the interests of refugees. Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly states that the occupying power must reassume the protection of the people living in the occupied area if their rights are not observed by the country to which the protection was transferred,” Schneebaum said, adding that therefore the US could re-take responsibility for the camp under international law.