Open Letter by British Dignitaries on Camp Liberty


Threat to Iranians in Camp Ashraf

The Guardian, 23 February 2012


We are calling on the EU, US secretary of state and the UN to act as a matter of urgency over the Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki's plans to move 3,400 Iranian refugees from their home in Camp Ashraf to a new base that amounts to nothing more than a prison. An agreement to move the refugees to a new home – Camp Liberty – is being eroded as details of Liberty's conditions emerge.

The new camp is to be surrounded by a 4m-high wall, its residents will not have freedom of movement inside or outside the camp or access to their lawyers and family members, while sanitation, water and eating facilities are limited. This is contrary to the memorandum of understanding agreed between the Iraqi government and the UN in December, which sought to protect the human rights of the residents.

The UN must act to ensure that Camp Liberty genuinely meets the requirements and gives its residents their "protected persons" status, along with the status recently accorded to them by the UN refugee agency UNHCR as asylum seekers. The UN must also act to show it has an important role to play in the new Iraq in upholding the basic rights of individuals and to ensure Iraq does not slip back into a regime that persecutes individuals and groups in the same way that Iran does.

We, along with the rest of the world, have watched in horror over the past two years as the Iraqi armed forces have entered Camp Ashraf and slaughtered and maimed its unarmed residents, including many women. Camp Liberty in its current form raises new concerns over residents' safety. Backing for these residents comes from a broad spectrum, with cross-party support from both houses in parliament, the church and the legal sector in the UK, the US and Europe. We are waiting to see if the UN will stand by the Camp Ashraf residents and protect their internationally recognised rights, or merely watch the Iraqi PM make a mockery of the UN and the principles it stands for.

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale Chairman, British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom [signed before his recent death]
Lord Carlile of Berriew QC Former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation
Baroness Boothroyd Former speaker, House of Commons
Lord Waddington QC Former home secretary
Lord Archer of Sandwell QC Former solicitor-general
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie QC Former lord advocate for Scotland
Lord Dholakia Deputy leader, Liberal Democrat party
John Wotton President, Law Society of England & Wales
Professor Sara Chandler Chair, Law Society human rights committee
Rt Rev Richard Frith Bishop of Hull
Rt Rev John Pritchard Bishop of Oxford
Rt Rev Dr Geoffrey Rowell Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
Most Rev Alan Harper Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland
Rt Rev Peter Price Bishop of Bath and Wells
Rt Rev Alan Gregory Smith Bishop of St Albans
Rt Rev Adrian Newman Bishop of Stepney
Baroness Gould of Potternewton Deputy speaker, House of Lords
Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen Deputy speaker, House of Lords
Baroness Harris of Richmond Deputy speaker, House of Lords
Rt Rev Lord Harries of Pentregarth Former bishop of Oxford
Mike Hancock MP Leader, UK Liberal Democrats at the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass
Lord Wedderburn of Charlton QC
Lord Alton of Liverpool
David Amess MP
Lord Bilston
Lord Eden of Winton
Austin Mitchell MP
Baroness Turner of Camden
Baroness Masham of Ilton
Lord Rea
Lord Roberts of Llandudno
Martin Caton MP
Jim Dobbin MP
Brian Binley MP
Lord King of West Bromwich
Mark Williams MP
Lord Inglewood
Lord Turnberg
Roger Gale MP
Baroness Blood
John Leech MP
Lord Clarke of Hampstead
Lord Joffe
Bob Russell MP
Lord Cotter
Joe Benton MP
Steve McCabe MP
Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde


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