Iranian dissidents in Iraq

Baroness Nicholson: It is for Iraq’s democratically elected government to fulfil its obligations under national and international law

SIR – Your article on the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, also known as the Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organisation (MKO), was an accurate account of their past activities (“Where will they all go?”, April 11th). I was therefore surprised to read the letter from Lord Corbett attacking The Economist (May 2nd).
The Iraqi government has announced on a number of occasions that it has no intention of forcing the MKO members in Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, to leave for Iran or to go to any other country. In fact, it is my understanding that 1,015 people out of the 3,400 people in the camp hold residence permits for different countries, many of them in the European Union. In addition, some 2,000 inhabitants have registered with the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees in the hope of being transferred to other countries ready to accept them.

For several years the Iraqi government has been working closely with UNHCR in order for this to happen. We in Europe, however, are not accepting these people, despite repeated requests by the Iraqi government. Why?

Most of Camp Ashraf’s inhabitants received military training under Saddam Hussein’s regime and took part with his Presidential Guard and other Iraqi security forces in crushing the Iraqi people’s uprising after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. There is ample evidence that the MKO harmed the Iraqi people when the Iraqi army refused to carry out the killings that Hussein required. Many families of the victims in Iraq cannot forget this. The Iraqi constitution does not permit the presence of groups such as the MKO on its soil. You also mentioned allegations of a bizarre and disturbing cult of personality that the MKO inculcates into all its members.

It is for Iraq’s democratically elected government to fulfil its obligations under national and international law, which it is doing in respect of Camp Ashraf, and not to heed the voices that would promote a group that has committed atrocities against its people.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, MEP
House of Lords

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