On 19th July Mr Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Iraq and head of UNAMI, told the UN Security Council: “the [Iraqi] government’s patience is wearing thin. I therefore would like to ... urge Camp Ashraf residents to cooperate with Iraqi authorities and to relocate from Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriyeh (Liberty)”.
Mr Kobler is implicitly giving a green light to Iraq to commit further war crimes and a crime against humanity similar to the attacks of July 2009 and April 2011 on the defenceless refugees at Camp Ashraf. He did not mention the two attacks in his report and failed to criticise Iraq for such hideous actions and its refusal to permit an independent enquiry that was called for by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, EU High Representative Baroness Ashton, the US Secretary of State and many other international figures. Instead he thanked “the Government of Iraq for their flexibility” in setting unreasonable deadlines and then extending them.
Mr Kobler also failed to file the rightful grievances of the residents of Ashraf for wanting to refuse what he calls a “voluntary” relocation to a degrading environment which not only hinders their freedom of movement but also lacks basic necessities like running water, electricity, shade from the scorching heat at over 55 degree Celsius and ramps for the disabled. Mr Kobler failed to mention that 2,000 residents had already left Ashraf to show goodwill and give the peaceful process a full opportunity to succeed. He even contradicted his own remarks from an earlier Security Council meeting on 10 April 2012 where he had said: "I would like also to highlight that the Camp residents despite initial difficulties have shown goodwill and cooperation recently in the relocation process. The residents have, indeed, come a long way. It is difficult to abandon a place where one has lived for more than two decades".
It is puzzling that Mr Kobler is refusing to recognise legitimate grievances of the residents, for example their opposition to participating in a meeting chaired by a chief official in the previous massacres. He also failed to mention why he thinks respect for the residents’ property rights and allowing them to take their property with them and selling what remains in Ashraf amounts to violating Iraq’s “sovereignty” and Iraqi law.
Mr Kobler insists on calling Camp Liberty a TTL (Temporary Transit Location) while he admits that the process of relocating the residents to safe third countries has been stalled by a lack of willingness by member states to accept refugees recognised by the UNHCR. By claiming the camp is a TTL, Mr Kobler tries to whitewash many of the shortcomings in the living conditions in the camp.
Mr Kobler’s report to the Security Council, in which he even criticised us for highlighting the basic demands of the residents, leaves no room for us to trust his impartiality in this crisis. We therefore call on the UN Secretary General to appoint a special envoy for the Ashraf crisis. Evidently Mr Kobler’s task as head of UNAMI compels him to close his eyes on many of the wrongdoings of the Iraqi government, and in the case of the Ashraf crisis this will unfortunately translate into a loss of precious lives that we must not tolerate.
The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
21 July 2012