Cross-Party MPs and Peers on Tuesday announced that they were launching an international campaign to save the lives of Iranian opposition members in Camp Ashraf, who are being denied access to medical services by Iraq. They plan to visit the camp in Iraq, where residents are also under psychological torture from Iranian intelligence agents.
At a meeting in the Attlee Suite of Parliament's Portcullis House, the MPs and Peers condemned recent attacks by Iraqi armed forces against 3,400 members of the main Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), residing in Camp Ashraf. They also denounced the actions of Iranian intelligence agents at the gates of the camp, using some 120 loudspeakers to chant daily threats and abuse at the residents for some nine months with the logistical assistance of Iraqi forces under the command of the Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The Parliamentarians pointed out that Ashraf residents were recognised by the US-led forces in Iraq as "protected persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and they urged the US to retake control of the camp from Iraqi forces that are under the influence of the Iranian regime.
In a video message to the meeting, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), urged the Parliamentarians to launch an international campaign to save the lives of cancer sufferers and other patients at Ashraf who are being prevented by Iraqi forces from travelling to hospitals in Iraq.
Labour peer Lord Corbett of Castle Vale, chair of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, said: "The Iraqi government has tried in effect to turn Ashraf into a prison and make life there unbearable for the residents. The Iraqi government have demonstrated that they do not have the will or capability to respect the rights of Ashraf residents. The US government has a responsibility to re-take protection of the residents, and the British government as a coalition partner has a responsibility to press for this. ... We would like to stop a looming humanitarian catastrophe at Ashraf since it is a symbol of resistance against the fascist regime in Iran. We support the call by Mrs. Rajavi to put international pressure in order for the siege of Ashraf to come to an end. We have to show that they do not stand alone. We now plan to collectively visit Ashraf".
Former Conservative Home Secretary, Rt. Hon. Lord David Waddington, said: "As to Ashraf, one can well understand the [Iranian] regime wanting to see the end of it, because it has stood as a beacon of hope for tolerant and freedom-loving Iranians. It has been an inspiration to all who want to see an end to militant Islamic fundamentalism and the birth of a free Iran. But there can be no understanding, let alone sympathy, for the Iraqi Prime Minister when he kowtows to the Mullahs and seems prepared to do the regime's dirty work for it. Iraqi forces continue to lay siege to the camp, restricting the entry of basic supplies. Family visits are forbidden as are visits by Iraqi lawyers of the residents. ... And it is nothing less than disgraceful that the Iraqi government should be allowing agents of the regime to set up loudspeakers on the camp walls and then chant deafening messages of hatred, even disturbing the peace of the [camp] hospital".
Mark Williams MP (Liberal Democrat) said: "Given these latest threats, pressures and attacks on the residents and the continued inhumane siege by the Iraqi government, it is critical that international pressure be put to force Iraq to respect the rights of Ashraf residents as "protected persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Furthermore it is critical for the US to once again take over responsibility for protecting Ashraf residents and for the UN to station monitors permanently at the camp".
Ms. Dowlat Nowrouzi, the National Council of Resistance of Iran's representative in the UK, said: "Millions of Iranians are demanding regime change. The PMOI members in Ashraf have been striving for democracy for the past three decades. Camp Ashraf has emerged as an antithesis to the expansion of the fundamentalism and terrorism of the mullahs' regime in Iraq and the Middle East. Therefore the US must make it its priority to take back the responsibility for protecting Ashraf. The UK government and Parliament should carry out the task of the international campaign for saving the lives of Ashraf patients and putting an end to the Ashraf siege and psychological torture imposed on them by Iraqi armed forces upon the orders of the Iranian regime's Intelligence Ministry".
Other panellists included: Lord Dholakia (deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat Party), Baroness Turner of Camden (Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords), Lord Cotter (Lib Dem), Lord Clarke of Hampstead (Former Chairman of the Labour Party), Rt. Hon. Lord Fraser of Carmyllie QC (former Lord Advocate for Scotland), and other MPs, as well as Claire Miskin (barrister and head of chambers at 3 Dr. Johnson's Buildings) and Lady Odile Slynn.
British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
23 November 2010