Thursday, April 14, 2011

Camp Ashraf

Yesterday Lara Jakes (AP) reported that at least 17 injured residents of Camp Ashraf were "forcibly removed from their hospital beds" by Iraqi forces and left/dumped at Camp Ashraf. Jakes explained, "Three women were among the patients, many of whom were bandaged, according to the doctor and an ambulance driver who spoke on condition of anonymity because that were not authorized to speak to the media." Following the US invasion, the US made these MEK residents of Camp Ashraf -- Iranian refuees who had been in Iraq for decades -- surrender weapons and also put them under US protection. They also extracted a 'promise' from Nouri that he would not move against them. July 28, 2009 the world saw what Nouri's word was actually worth. Since that Nouri-ordered assault in which at least 11 residents died, he's continued to bully the residents. Iran's Fars News Agency reported last week that the Iraqi military denied allegations that it entered the camp and assaulted residents. Specifically, Camp Ashraf residents state, "The forces of Iraq's Fifth Division invaded Camp Ashraf with columns of armored vehicles, occupying areas inside the camp, since midnight on Saturday." Friday saw another attack which the Iraqi government again denied. Tuesday AP's Lara Jakes reported that the Iraqi Parliament voted today to close down the camp. AP reported that last Friday, at a UN Security Council meeting, Iraq's Ambassador to the UN, Hamid al-Bayati, declared that Iraq would "not force" the residents back to Iran "but it will encourage them to go to a third country." Alsumaria TV reported Tuesday that Ali al-Dbbagh -- aka Nouri's mouth -- declared, "The council of ministers has committed to implement an earlier decision about disganding the terrorist group People's Mujahedeen of Iran, by the end of this year at the latest, and the necessity of getting it out of Iraq." Alsumaria reports that MP Safiya al-Suhail has declared turning the dissidents over "to Iran does not go along with Iraq constitution and laws and the respect of human and individual rights regardless the fact that these refugees are in Iraq as a result of a political decision of the former regime." He states that due to "the humanitarian cases inside the camp, Iraq is bound in front of the international community to provide the needed for the members of this organization to get asylum countries."

This is really big issue outside of the US media. You've had two members of England's upper house of Parliament (House of Lords) accuse the US of giving the okay for the Friday assault. Kate Allen (Guardian) sees the treatment as a way of measuring the level of human rights progress in Iraq:

Meanwhile, the Iraqi authorities are barely paying lip-service to their obligation to properly investigate these deeply troubling events. Nouri al-Maliki's government has said it will investigate last week's violence, but it said that in 2009 as well. In common with scores of other "investigations" in the country, nothing more has been heard of it.
And neither is Iraq coming under much international pressure over Camp Ashraf. The UK's foreign office minister Alistair Burt said he was "disturbed" by the loss of life and supported a UN monitoring mission to the camp, but generally there's been relatively little reaction. A letter in the Guardian bemoaned the "blanket of silence" surrounding it.
Drowned out by Libya, Syria and Ivory Coast, violence at Camp Ashraf is at risk of being all but ignored. Amnesty is calling for an independent investigation into Friday's blood-letting as well as assurances that no one at Ashraf is going to be forced out of Iraq if their lives are put in danger.
Camp Ashraf doesn't come close to fitting into the "Arab Spring" narrative (though meanwhile Iraq's own protests have in fact been well-attended, ruthlessly put down and almost totally unreported). But the world should start paying attention to this forgotten story. How Iraq treats the residents of Camp Ashraf will provide an important window into how far Iraq has come in respecting human rights.

US outlets, instead of exploring or reality, think it's cute to offer crap like what Karl Vick's written for Time. You really have to wonder how a piece of trash like Karl Vick is still writing. Wherever there's a serious issue, throughout his career, Vick has shown up to trivialize the issues, to mock the participants and to show his ass. He's not funny. He's not accurate. And he should have been forced into another profession long ago. His career is nothing but complaints, non-stop complaints -- over the way he has mocked victims repeatedly. There's detatched, there's witty, there's even bitchy. Karl Vick can rise to those levels. In fact, he's about as lively as a corpse. He's an elderly P.J. O'Rourke with a nasty quaalude habit.

David Jolly (New York Times) does a better job with the issues but few could do worse than Vick. Jolly notes, "Details of the incident at Camp Ashraf, which houses members of the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, remain somewhat obscure. Enough is known that officials from the United States and European Union, as well as human rights groups, have urged the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to show restraint."

The following community sites -- plus, Iraq Inquiry Digest, Jane Fonda, Military Families Speak Out and War News Radio -- updated last night and this morning:

We'll close with this from Andy Worthington's "On the torture of Bradley Manning" (World Can't Wait):

In the ongoing scandal regarding the treatment of Pfc Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower responsible for leaking a treasure trove of classified US documents to WikiLeaks, who has been held since last July in a military brig in Quantico, Virginia, a slowly building body of criticism turned into a torrent of indignation early last month, when it was revealed that, as well as being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and checked every five minutes under a “Prevention of Injury” (PoI) order, Manning is also stripped naked every night (apart from a smock) and is made to stand naked outside his cell every morning as the cells are inspected.

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oh boy it never ends