Two days after the US announced it was pulling its troops out of Iraq, Iran's Foreign Ministry announced that Iran and Iraq had approved a 7-point agreement for the expulsion of the PMOI from Ashraf and the camp's closure. Nouri al-Maliki's government has now imposed an illegal deadline of 31st December 2011 for the closure of the camp and displacement of the 3400 inhabitants (including over 1000 women) to unknown locations within Iraq. On 5th December 2011, due to the urgent circumstances, the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged nations to accept the residents.
On the 13th September 2011 the residents of Ashraf were declared asylum-seekers under international protection, by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The EU has since appointed Ambassador Jean de Ruyt as Special Envoy responsible for Ashraf affairs and 3400 applications for refugee status have been lodged. Ashraf residents have accepted the European Parliament plan for relocation to third countries (and forsook their right of residence in a place that has been their home for 25 years). The Iraqi government however is deliberately obstructing the work of the UNHCR, so that it cannot begin its process of interviewing the residents to affirm their refugee status, a pre-requisite to their relocation to third countries.
This sabotage of the interview process is intended to make the fabricated deadline impossible to meet, providing the Iraqi government with an excuse to forcibly enter the camp and displace it's people. A US Envoy on a visit to Iraq on 22nd November has stated that the the Iraqi government wishes to relocate the residents to a camp near Al-Mosanna airport close to Baghdad. This location is considered to be the prison which was formerly used as the airport, where cases of torture have already been reported. It is widely accepted that if the people are displaced within Iraq, they will be killed or handed over to the Iranian regime, where their fate will be the same. The residents have stated publicly, that they would "prefer to stay and die in Ashraf rather than be buried in a remote location away from international attention and scrutiny".
Since 13th September the Iraqi government has ordered preparations for the forth coming assault on Camp Ashraf which have included; Iraqi military manoeuvres involving dozens of humvees within the camp; the installation of 2 powerful communication jamming stations (similar to those used to prevent outgoing video footage during the 2009 Tehran uprising); the hiring of a paid mob posing as Iraqi civilians, stationed at the camp entrance to intimidate the residents and to falsely represent Iraqi public opposition. This is on top of an almost 3 year long siege of the camp where inhabitants are prevented from leaving to receive medical attention and foreign observers are not permitted to enter. There have been no gasoline deliveries for over a year and very little diesel and kerosene. Medical supplies are also limited. Now that temperatures are dropping, an end to deliveries of coal and wood has been ordered in an effort to tighten the seige. 300 loud speakers have been installed that blast out insults directed at the women of Ashraf throughout the day and night, as part of a campaign of psychological torture. All of these preparations clearly show that the Iraqi government at the behest of the Iranian regime, is serious about keeping it's deadline. Video footage of the military manoeuvres mentioned above, bear many chilling similarities to the build up preparations before the 8th April 2011 attack on the camp by Iraqi forces, that killed 36 and injured 350 unarmed and defenceless people.
The tightening of sanctions by the UK resulting in the attack on the British Embassy, by so called 'students', was clearly backed by the regime. These kinds of subversive tactics played out through an offensive of international media misinformation (which the regime has utilized extensively over the years against the PMOI and other opposition) are typical of it's cowardly campaign of fear, whether it be meted out by special forces posing as students, a hired mob acting as Iraqi opposition or via Iraqi soldiers. On 16th December 2011, the Iranian regime's Quds Force (the unit specialising in terrorist activities outside the country and responsible for the assassination plot of the Saudi Ambassador in Washington) in a joint intrusion plot with Iraqi forces, surrounded the camp, broke the fuel supply pipes and destroyed the fuel reservoir.
Despite the huge international opposition to the displacement of the residents of Ashraf from over 1 million Iraqis (including tribal sheikhs, clergy, lawyers etc who have signed a petition), the EU Parliament (180 Euro MPs signed a joint declaration in October warning of the dangers), the US Congress, over 4000 parliamentarians around the world, the majority members of 30 parliaments and the most prominent European, American and Arab dignitaries, the UN who is responsible for the safety of the people of Ashraf, at present seem powerless to prevent the impending attack. Accordingly, public pressure needs to be brought to bear on the UN, the US and the EU member states to urgently declare their unequivocal opposition both to the deadline and to forcible displacement of Ashraf residents and to fulfil their legal commitments according to Article 1 of the third paragraph of the UN charter, International Human Rights Declaration and paragraphs 138 and 139 from the final document on Responsibility to Protect ("RtoP") adopted by the UN in 2005 and according to resolutions 1438, 1500 and 2001 of the UN Security Council. Not to do so, will make them complicit in this potential crime against humanity.
This story urgently needs to be reported so that the UN and the governments involved are forced to protect the people of Ashraf for whom they are responsible, and so that they are afforded no opportunity to say that they were not fully warned. Silence and inaction will pave the way for the certain massacre of 3400 people if the 31st December deadline is not withdrawn. This humanitarian crisis can be avoided if it is brought to the public's attention. If this attack is allowed to happen, we will be sending a message to the Mullahs of Iran, that the international community is powerless to stop these kinds of atrocities and then who knows where it might end?