Situation of the former members of the MKO in Iraq
کانون اندیشه، گفتگو و حقوق بشر در ایران- تورنتو
9251 Yonge Street
Unit # 219
L4C 9T3 Canada
Centre for Thought, Dialogue and Human Rights in Iran – Toronto
October 12, 2007
Re: Situation of the former members of the MKO in Iraq
Since April 2003, and after arrival of the American forces in Iraq, the administration decided to gather all the members of Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization, from various bases in Iraq, inside their main camp, Ashraf, and disarm them. During this process and later on they realized that there are hundreds of individuals who were kept inside those camps and even in Iraqi prisons including notorious Abu-Gharib by force and against their will since they expressed their desire to leave the organization. In many cases the history of their imprisonment went back to years and there were also individuals who were kidnapped or brought in by false promises including endorsement of their status for the refugee purposes.
American forces in charge of this project had no time or resource to make a final decision about the reallocation of these people yet could not leave them inside the main camp as it would have been a source of constant unrest between the two groups. The fact that many of these people did not have proper documentation made it impossible to make a different decision at that time. Also as we all know Americans were under the impression that their stay in Iraq will not take more than a few months. For all that reasons they assigned a piece of deserted land behind their buildings at the gates of Ashraf, they had forces in charge of thousands inside the main camp, and secured it by three meters high barbwire fences and set a few tents and a water tank and placed these people in there. This place is known as Temporary International Facility Presence or TIPF.
However, the temporary and insufficient condition has lasted almost four and half years and while the residents of the main camp have enjoyed a normal life condition including living in proper buildings and having access to other amenities such as bathing facilities, sport facilities, gathering rooms, functional kitchen, library, medical service and entertainment among other things. They also enjoyed the attention and visits from delegates of international organizations and some governments over the time. The fact that the organization was pronounced a terrorist organization by the United State first and recognized by some other countries as such did not make a big change in their collaboration with the American forces inside Iraq or elsewhere. Yet, surprisingly, this labeling only reflected negatively on the residents of TIFP who either denounced the organization and suffered the consequences for years or have never been a member but rather a hostage.
Since 2005, and as our organization began to advocate on behalf of these individuals with their choice and consent, UNHCR started interviewing them through video-phone, a process that finalized in mid 2007. Currently 80 percent of the files have been forwarded to various countries including United States and Canada. Yet, during all this time the American forces never recognized their refugee rights and by the excuse of US and Iraq not being a signatory to the Geneva Convention refused to treat them as such. Although, that there are people with serious health issues in this facility no medical attention is available to them. There have been many reports of physical abuse and torture or illegal treatment of these people who are not even prisoners but recognized refugees under the protection of UNHCR. There are also numerous incidents of psychological abuse such as solitary detentions, refusal of their limited communication rights, false information regarding their status or no response at all while the only means of their communication is through Americans. A current example is the case of Ms. B. Soultany who recently moved with her partner Mr. A. Kalantari from Ashraf to TIPF. Based on our information she was a high rank commander with the organization and a practicing Muslim. A few days after her arrival she was asked to take the job of the garbage collector within the American facility and when she refused explaining that in the absence of proper washing facility her touching those wastes will disqualify her as being clean to do her prayers. As a result, she was grabbed, stripped naked in the middle of the camp and beaten up. Her partner who tried to defend her was also beaten up, by a Bulgarian general, and thrown in jail. That night she attempted suicide by hanging herself and though she was rescued by others at the last minute she suffered injuries and bruises to her neck and shoulder.
In the past few month Americans discussed different options with these guys, some of them very naive and dangerous, for their reallocations to a neighboring country where UN has an operational office. Every time that people agreed with one of the suggestions that seemed more reasonable they withdraw that option from the table and claimed that for some unknown reason it is not possible. Appreciating the psychological situation of these individuals, and the pressures caused by the absence of any clear plan regarding their future, few of them went on hunger strike. In response to their action American forces transferred K. Taghipour, who is in a very critical condition after over twenty nine days of strike, along with Majid Rouhi, Hussein Bakhshalizadeh, Jaber Taei Samiromy and Yones Ahmadi to a prison (Sherape?) near the Baghdad airport. This prison is an exclusive detention centre for the members of Al-Qaeda and other terrorists in Iraq.
It is with great sadness to mention that during this time, four and half years, no International organization ever visited this facility and our constant approach to likes of Amnesty International, Red Cross, Human Rights Watch etc. was unsuccessful at every attempt. The effect of their reluctance towards such important situation was quite discouraging to our limited resources and manpower.
Presently over two hundred people are kept in this facility in the most unbearable and inhuman condition. While almost all of them have been recognized by UNHCR they have no protection or rights as refugees. They also have no way of contacting UNHCR to make complaints or follow up their cases. While every Western government claims opposition to the terrorism and guerrilla organizations they have ignored the plea of these political activists who were not only against the atrocities of the Iranian regime but also against the violent and undemocratic means of MKO.
As an organization that is opposed to the violation of Human rights, we believe that these people are in grave danger if remained in Iraq under the current situation. Therefore we require that based on Geneva Convention 1967 and UN declaration 1987 their refugee rights be recognized immediately. In addition, since UN has no office in Iraq, except in the Kurdistan, they should be reallocated to another country to have full access and freedom to follow up with the required procedures to facilitate their final settlement in a free and democratic country.
Supported by: Organization for the Defense of democracy in Iran-Holland