Dear Mr. Speaker,
These 8 people aged 30-50 are from a larger group of 200 Iranian nationals and former members of Mojaheddin Khalkh Organization (MKO), an opposition group fighting against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Following Saddam’s downfall, these people seized the opportunity to leave MKO and take refuge in an American-run camp called Temporary International Presence Facility (TIPF) to await their destiny (i.e., being sent to European countries as refugees). They are all UN recognized refugees, each carrying three identification documents: an Iraqi Government’s issued “Lesser Passer” card, a UNHCR Refugee ID, and a Coalition Forces’ issued ID.
About 4 weeks ago, American Forces in TIPF began freeing these people from the camp in groups of 4 to 8 people and providing secure passage to various cities in Kordestan , Iraq , e.g., Moussell, Erbil . Avoiding arrest by Kurdish police and extradition to Iran , many of them began heading north to Turkey . Upon entering Turkey at the Iraq-Turkey border line, they were all arrested by the Turkish Security Police (in charge of foreigners) and moved to various prisons inside Turkey .
These 8 people, after two weeks in prison, were told to get ready to be moved to the city of Shirnak ( Center of Silopi Region ) for processing their request (to be formally recognized as UN refugees and allowed to contact UNHCR representatives in Turkey for resettlement in a safe 3rd country.) Instead, they were taken to the Turkey-Iraqi border post at Haboor on the Turkey side (called Ebrahim Araghi on the Iraq side) in order to send them back to Iraq. Iraqi officials at the border-crossing refused to allow them entry to Iraq . Turkish Security Police then decided to force these people back into Iraq by taking them to a nearby unmanned border point with a river marking the border line between the two countries. There, the Turkish soldiers stripped these 8 people of their money and valuable personal belongings and under the command of Turkish Security Police forced them (by firing warning shots) to cross the river into Iraq. These 8 people, are now in a border city called Zakhoo in Iraq and in eminent danger of being arrested by the Iraqi police and extradited to Iran .
By writing this letter, I would like to report to you this unprecedented level of violation of human rights as well as the negligence of basic rights of UNHCR recognized refugees by your border and security police and to appeal to you for your help to intervene on behalf of these 8 and close to 200 other former MKO members who are kept in Prisons in Turkey. Please act from the position of authority and responsibility and use whatever means available to you to ensure that the Turkish Government respect the minimum rights of these people as UNHCR refugees and allow them to contact UNHCR representatives in Turkey for a safe passage to and resettlement in a country within European Union.
Mohammad Torabi, Ph.D
CTO Architecture & Solutions Engineering
Monarch Beach, California
Aria Iran, January 24, 2008-http://www.ariairan.com/?mod=view&id=3020