By Mohsen Sardary
Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s Diyala Province was home to nearly 3,400 members of the organized opposition facing the regime ruling Tehran and the scene of a horrific bloodbath in the early morning hours of April 8th, 2011.
The attack on this camp began at 4:45 am by the Iraqi Army 5th Division led by Staff Brigadier General Zia Kadhem Danbus. Five other Iraqi Army battalions, including a mechanized infantry battalion and an armored battalion from the Iraqi Army 9th Division also participated in this lethal assault.
This onslaught was carried out while the Iraqi government had provided official written guarantees to the US government in December 2008 pledging to respect Ashraf residents’ rights based on International Law.
It was under this framework that the Iraqi Army raided Ashraf with a 2,500-strong force equipped with armored vehicles against the residents that were all completely unarmed and considered ‘protected persons’ under the 4th Geneva Convention. 36 Ashraf residents massacred and 350 others injured was the result of this attack; more than 200 of which were the result of direct and close-range gunfire.
Former Iraqi prime minister Nouri Maliki, as commander-in-chief, personally issued the order to attack Camp Ashraf.
But why did Maliki actually carry out such a crime? Tehran’s condition for backing Maliki’s second term as premier in Iraq was to annihilate Iran’s organized opposition. It was only under these terms that Khamenei had pledged all-out support for Maliki.
Kazemi Ghomi, Tehran’s then ambassador in Baghdad and a senior terrorist Quds Force officer himself, set the stage and made the preparations for this attack.
A number of Camp Ashraf residents were murdered and literally crushed in this assault by American-made Humvees sold to the Iraqi Army, whereas the US government had issued protected persons ID cards to each and every Ashraf resident, pledging to provide security for Ashraf residents until their final disposition.
Following this horrific crime the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights emphasized on the necessity to conduct an independent, transparent and impartial investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators. Concurrently, John Kerry, then chair of the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee demanded a probe into this attack. However, the UN simply stood idly by and did nothing. Nothing at all.
Sometime afterwards in a book published by Tahar Boumedra, a senior UN official and an advisor to SRSG on Ashraf from 2009 thru 2012 entitled, “The Untold Stories of Camp Ashraf” revealing that UNAMI took no action on Camp Ashraf in Iraq that may have angered Maliki’s government.
Mr. Boumedra also testified in a US House of Representatives hearing that from October 2011, meaning ever since former UN foreman in Iraq Martin Kobler went to that country, 95% of then UNAMI’s resources, personnel and time were dedicated to assisting the Iraqi government to close down Ashraf. He unveiled that on any issue relating to Ashraf the steps taken by UNAMI were all under the supervision and planning of the Iranian regime’s embassy in the Iraqi Prime Ministry Office.
On April 8th when Ashraf’s defenseless residents were being riddled with direct gunfire by Iraqi security forces, the entire world – and especially the United States – chose not to take any serious action in the face of this crime against humanity. With every bullet fired by his forces on Iranian refugees in Ashraf, Maliki was sending this message to the world that in Iraq no one will be tolerated to oppose the mullahs ruling Iran.
If America had lived up to its political and moral obligations regarding Ashraf residents on that day, and if it had not backed Maliki, maybe today we would not be witnessing crimes being carried out in Iraq by ISIS or Iran-associated Shiite militants. If the US had adopted a firm policy vis-à-vis the Iranian regime in Iraq, today the mullahs’ Quds Force and Revolutionary Guards would not be carrying out such atrocious crimes against the innocent people of this country at such a scope; and Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani would not be roaming freely through Iraq’s cities.
Many commitments and pledges provided by the White House and State Department on the protection of Ashraf and Liberty residents have been completely dishonored and there has been no loyalty seen from the Obama administration regarding these vows. All in all, nothing has changed on the ground.
Camp Liberty, where Ashraf residents were relocated to in 2012, remains under the crackdown and inhumane siege imposed by the same Iraqi officers who commanded the Ashraf massacres. Liberty residents are now facing daily threats of attacks and killings by militants and extremists. As we speak a resident of the camp, Mr. Safar Zakery, has been abducted under the pretext of a road accident, which he was not to blame for. It has been over three weeks now that he has been kept in prison under various bogus reasons. The same criminals that murdered 36 Ashraf residents back in April 2011 have now abducted Mr. Zakery to inflict even more pressure on all Liberty residents!
America must live up to its obligations and send a strong message to Tehran that moral and political principles will never fall victim to short-term political and economic interests.