British peers urge UK to protect Iranians in Camp Liberty Iraq

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British members of the House of Lords have urged the UK to lead the drive to defend the Iranian residents of camp Liberty until they can be moved to the safety of a third countries.

The Lords also accused Iraq of failing to protect the Iranian dissidents at the camp because Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is a ‘client of the Iranian regime’.

At a debate, on February 27, in the presence of Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi, Baroness Turner of Camden condemned the public executions and oppression of women in Iran and praised the ‘equality agenda’ of Iranian Resistance president-elect Maryam Rajavi.

She said of the Iranian opposition members in Iraq: “Groups of its members are in UN-protected camps in Iraq at the moment — Ashraf and Liberty — but unfortunately because the present Iraqi regime has extremist links with the Iranian Government, members of the camps have been subjected to harassment and there has even been violence in which some of them have been killed.

“People in the Ashraf and Liberty camps are entitled to protection and I hope that our Government will continue to press the Iraqis and other Governments on that issue.”

Lord Carlile of Berriew told the meeting: “There are Iranian dissidents in refuge in Camp liberty in Iraq. They are persecuted daily. This week they have been refused access by officials of the Iraqi Government to medically prescribed therapy.

“In the past they have been refused access to communications. They have been refused access to water, they have had their defensive walls removed from around their premises, there have been more than 150 assassinations there, and they have been unprotected by the Iraqi Government.

“One well understands the difficulty that the Iraqi Government face in relation to terrorism in that country, but it is absolutely clear that Prime Minister al-Maliki for this purpose is a client of the regime of Iran . That is why the residents of Camp liberty are not being protected.”

He added: “I urge the Minister to declare very clearly to this House that the United Kingdom is in the forefront of international efforts to save the lives of the residents of Camp liberty and to give them a safe haven elsewhere.

“If the Iranian regime has any interest in persuading us it is earnest in meeting our concerns over nuclear and other issues, surely the small question of the residents of Camp liberty is one on which they could demonstrate their earnest at no risk to themselves and gain the respect of the rest of the world for their change and their humanitarian approach. I ask our Government to use every effort to ensure that those unfortunate people are protected.”

Baroness Warsi told the debate: “The human rights situation in Iran remains dire and we are determined to hold the Government to account. We frequently release statements condemning the human rights situation in Iran and have led action by the international community on this.

“We have designated more than 80 Iranian s responsible for human rights violations under EU sanctions and we have helped to establish a UN special rapporteur on Iran and human rights and lobbied for the adoption of a human rights resolution on Iran.”

She also condemned the massacre of 52 Iranian dissidents at Camp Ashraf on September 1 and called on the Iraqi government to investigate the attack and to bring those responsible to justice.”

But Lord Maginnis of Drumglass believed any investigation should be carried out by impartial international bodies, adding: “I suggest that putting the onus on the Iraq is to investigate the killings at Camp Ashraf is a bit like putting a fox into a chicken house to count the chickens.”

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