Nobel Laureate Urges UN, Iranian Government, to Protect Iranians in Iraq
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Shirin Ebadi, Iranian lawyer and 2003 Nobel Peace laureate, spoke about the murder of dozens of residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq on Saturday, August 31, and said that if the Iraqi Prime Minister believes he has no responsibility in this regard, then he should resign. Ebadi also said that the United Nations must immediately arrange the settlement of the remaining Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization (MEK) members in other countries. “So long as even one MEK member remains in Iraq, the UN must have observers present to watch them,” she said.
On Sunday, September 1, several armed forces attacked Camp Ashraf, the MEK compound in Iraq, and killed dozens of the residents by firing bullets at their heads. Mere hours after the incident, Iran’s Islamic Guard Corps (IRGC) issued a statement in which the mass killing was referred to as “a historic revenge,” and admired the attackers. The Iraqi government has yet to state a position on the incident.
Shirin Ebadi criticized the Iraqi government’s reaction to the attack. “This is the second time a group of our compatriots are attacked savagely on Iraqi soil. Several individuals were killed the first time and the Iraqi government did not accept any responsibility in that case. This time, again, the Nouri al-Maleki government states that they are not responsible in this area. According to recognized and accepted international laws, every government is responsible for the security of the residents of that country, and if Nouri al-Maleki believes that he has no responsibility, he must resign and allow someone who considers himself responsible for the events to take office,” Ebadi said.
Shirin Ebadi also said that it is possible that a group or groups inside Iran were involved in the massacre. “There are some speculations about the involvement of a part of the Iranian government in this event—there is a history between the regime and the MEK which supports these speculations, especially as the IRGC has issued a statement in which they are expressing joy and happiness about the murders of the MEK members—but it is every government’s responsibility to defend the security and life of its citizens. How is it that when Iranian citizens are accused of smuggling drugs or money and are arrested in the US or in Malysia or anywhere else, the Iranian government immediately objects and sends a representative to review the cases of these individuals, but about what has happened here, not only does the Iranian government not express regret over the loss of life of Iranian citizens, it even expresses glee! This statement strengthens speculations by some who believe the Iranian government is directly or indirectly involved in this,” Shirin Ebadi told the Campaign.
Asked what mechanisms the UN could use to ensure such events will never take place again, Ebadi told the Campaign, “The UN must first appoint a delegation to investigate and report on what has happened, identify the individuals responsible for this incident, and register the names of the government or governments responsible for this case as those who have committed crimes against humanity.”
She continued, “The UN must arrange the transfer of the MEK members remaining in Iraq to a safe location as soon as possible. They are ready to move to another country, but, unfortunately, so far no location has been identified for them. The UN must mediate and transfer them to a safe location.”
Shirin Ebadi told the Campaign that time is of essence in this investigation. “This must be done as soon as possible, because passage of time will lead to loss of crime evidence, and this catastrophe may be repeated again. If the first time the Ashraf Camp was attacked, a swift and complete reaction had been shown, this would not have happened again,” the prominent lawyer said.
“Some of the UN human rights monitoring mechanisms must be used for Iraq. I believe so long as even one member of the MEK remains in Iraq, the UN should have a permanent observer there to monitor their comings and goings,” said the Nobel Peace laureate about the Iraqi government’s accountability.
In reaction to the massacre, 139 Iranian political and civil activists condemned the attack on the defenseless Camp Ashraf residents and asked the UN to form a fact-finding committee to identify those who ordered and those who carried it out, so that they may be prosecuted.