Saturday, February 18, 2012

Homes of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's reps attacked

Yesterday Kitabat reported that Supreme Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani accused party officials of widespread corruption -- financial and administrative. Kitabat reports that today six homes in Nasiriyah and Diwaniyah Provinces belonging to representatives of al-Sistani were attacked with hand grenades and bullets. No one was harmed in the attacks which would appear to indicate the attacks were not to harm but to send a message. A warning could be sent for any number of reasons but it is curious that he decries corruption among politicians and the next day homes of his representatives are attacked. Aswat al-Iraq notes 2 of the homes attacked in Diwaniyah Province and that a mosque in the area was also attacked.

Where were the police? Iraqi police focus on very serious crimes, you understand. Alsumaria TV explains that two gangs were just arrested on charges of armed robbery and . . . sorcery. Yes, you read that correctly. "Voodooism" was being practiced.

Al Rafidayn notes that transfer of Camp Ashraf residents to a new and controversial facility began yesterday and that a presumed quick transfer was delayed by lengthy searches. BBC News adds that the residents stated "they had been searched for almost an entire day before they were allowed to leave Camp Ashraf, and had been searched again on arrival at Camp Liberty. The also [. . . stated] that they had not been allowed to bring many of their vehicles, household items and personal possessions with them." AP reports of the allegedly banned items: "soldiers ordered the exiles to leave some of their heirlooms behind, including photographs, microwave ovens, satellite dishes for Internet access and, in one case, a pair of therapeutic socks." There are also armed Iraqi forces in the new camp which is disturbing the 400 transferred so far.

Camp Ashraf houses a group of Iranian dissidents (approximately 3,500 people). Iranian dissidents were welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp attacked twice. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."

Today Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains the searches lasted some 12 hours and quotes the National Council of Resistance of Iran's Shahin Gobadi, "The preliminary reports indicate that Camp Liberty (Hurriya) is a prison from all aspects." Francois Murphy and Yara Bayoumy (Reuters) quote the NCRI stating, "Transfer of the next groups will only take place after the Special Representative of the (U.N.) Secretary-General and the Iraqi government declare their approval of the minimum assurances, particularly (the) departure of Iraqi police from inside Camp Liberty."

The following community sites -- plus Watching America, On The Wilder Side, the Guardian, On The Edge, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Cindy Sheehan -- have updated last night and today:

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