Friday, December 9th, 2011 by Reza Pahlavi
An Open Letter To:
The Honorable President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
9 December 2011
I am writing on behalf of my Iranian compatriots living in Camp Ashraf, in Iraq.
I am certain you have heard of Camp Ashraf from your advisers and understand the complications it poses for the United Nations, Iraq and Iran. As you know, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki plans to close down the camp at the year's end, and the United Nations is trying to find other nations willing to accept the camp’s residents. So far the UN has had limited success. I am thus concerned that Prime Minister Maliki’s promise to clear the camp at year’s end could turn into a serious human rights catastrophe. There are many children living in this camp who have been born and raised there over the years.
We are all aware of the MEK’s extreme political beliefs and its history of violence and assassinations. The Iranian revolution was in part aided and inflamed by the MEK though, ironically, the current regime in Iran now sees the group as a threat. Nevertheless, I am separating the group’s politics and history from their basic human rights as my compatriots, and with the certainty that the children residing in Camp Ashraf bear no role in this history.
My concern is that the rights of these refugees are already not being upheld in accordance with the Geneva Convention. The UNHCR must be allowed to register the refugees and visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross should also be permitted. The main concern held by many is that Iraq will deport these Iranians to the Islamic Republic upon clearing the camps, where they will face certain death – among them 1,000 women and children.
I respectfully ask that your administration support the United Nations and European Union efforts to protect these Iranians on humanitarian grounds. Specifically, I would ask that you encourage Prime Minister al-Maliki to drop or extend the 31 December 2011 deadline for the closure of Camp Ashraf, and allow the UNHCR to carry out its refugee status work so we can bring about a peaceful and humane end to this matter.
I also urge for the establishment of a UN peacekeeping presence to protect the camp, and for the US to work actively with European allies to ensure the transfer of residents to states where their safety can be guaranteed.
As we commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I thank you for your urgent consideration of this important matter.