Assault on Defenceless Civilians at Camp Ashraf

by David Amess MP

Ladies and gentlemen the video that we have just seen and the evidence we have just heard should leave little doubt in one’s mind that this was an unspeakable massacre that occurred at Camp Ashraf. It is deeply distressing to watch unarmed civilians be massacred in such a callous and criminal way.

I wish to take this opportunity to add my voice to the international condemnation of this attack, a military assault against defenseless civilians. There is no greater crime in the eyes of international law than that of state sanctioned war against defenseless civilians and I therefore urge the British government, the US and UN to call this crime as they see it. This was a crime against humanity which has not passed, but which continues as Iraqi forces gather to carry out a further violent attack on the residents.

Although we have all seen the footage and although we have all read the details it is critical to speak of the specific lives which have been lost. We have seen in the footage a young woman shot dead as she films the aggression of the Iraqi forces and with her last breath tells the world that the residents will continue their struggle in defending themselves with their bare hands against the butchers sent by Maliki to massacre them. The shooting of reporters in this way and the prevention by Iraqi forces of reporters, lawyers and politicians entering the camp is clear evidence of Maliki’s government hiding the inexplicable crimes they have committed.

With the Iraqi authorities not even allowing independent personnel into the camp how can anyone expect them to carry out a full, independent and transparent review of the attack, impossible and in reality utterly ridiculous. The British government, the US and the UN must now appoint an independent body to investigate the attack, an investigation which must culminate in the criminals who murdered the defenseless 34 residents being prosecuted in international courts for crimes against humanity.

Unfortunately it saddens me to say that we in the British parliamentar continually warned our government, the government of the USA, the EU and the UN that an attack was imminent. In fact in an EDM put forward by me and signed by the majority of backbench British MPs earlier this year we clearly stated that the residents of Camp Ashraf were under threat. It was abundantly clear to us that the Iraqi authorities had no regard for the “protected persons” status of the residents. In fact for over 18 months there had been an inhumane siege of the camp with the residents being denied basic necessities such as food and medical supplies, a siege which lead to the death of ill residents.

The EDM went on to demand action from the US and UN in protecting the residents of Camp Ashraf. If our basic demands at that stage had been complied with we would not be sitting here discussing the massacre of unarmed civilians. The inaction of the international community remains shameful in my eyes.

I now reiterate the demands that we made in that EDM months before this attack. We demand that the US administration provides the necessary protection for the residents of Camp Ashraf. This can clearly now only be achieved with the immediate removal of Iraqi forces from the camp and the US military taking back control over the safety and security of the residents. We further demand that the UN immediately station a monitoring team within the camp to prevent further attacks by the Iraqi military. David Cameron and William Hague must take all necessary measures to convince the US and UN to adopt these measures.

Ladies and gentlemen this crime against humanity has taken place using the excuse that the PMOI’s name is included on the US list of banned organisations. With the UK Court of Appeal, after reviewing the closed material, ruling that the PMOI was not involved in terrorism leading to the group’s de-proscription in the UK unanimously by both Houses of Parliament in 2008 and in the EU in 2009, with the US Court of Appeals in Washington in July 2010 ruling in favour of the PMOI and urging the US Secretary of State to re-evaluate the decision to maintain the PMOI on the list and with the European Parliament on 25 November 2010 adopting a declaration calling for protection of Ashraf and the PMOI’s de-proscription in the US; the US administration must now follow the UK in de-listing the PMOI.

One final message must not be forgotten in this entire episode and that is one of hope. The Iranian people are today standing up against their dictatorial leaders and demanding freedom and democracy. The residents of Camp Ashraf have once again inspired the Iranian people with their bravery and steadfastness in not falling under such suppression. The 34 residents of Camp Ashraf who died are heroes of their nation and we must now as a matter of urgency protect the residents who remain there and show the people of Iran that we are fully behind their battle for freedom and democracy.

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