Iran Focus: Washington, Jun. 13 – Concern for the safety of members of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran is mounting in the U.S. Congress as the American military prepares to evacuate a base near Camp Ashraf, where the group’s members reside in Iraq, and turn it over to Iraqi security forces.
Washington, Jun. 13 – Concern for the safety of members of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran is mounting in the U.S. Congress as the American military prepares to evacuate a base near Camp Ashraf, where the group’s members reside in Iraq, and turn it over to Iraqi security forces.
Members of the House of Representatives are calling for continued protection of the Iranian opposition group PMOI/MEK at Ashraf after control of the area is subjected to an Iraqi government more friendly to the regime in Tehran. They also urged that the group be removed from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
“We cannot allow a human rights catastrophe to occur in Iraq just because we are in the process of leaving”, Rep. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, said Thursday at a congressional briefing on the scheduled 1 July departure of U.S. forces from Camp Grizzly, situated in the immediate vicinity of Camp Ashraf.
“The world would be better, and of course Iran would be better, if the people of Iran were able to have a government worthy of their great culture … Until then, the folks at Camp Ashraf are in a difficult circumstance, and it is critically important that the United States monitor that camp, both today and after July 1”, said Sherman, who is chairman of the House foreign affairs subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade.
In a bipartisan plea, he challenged placing on the terrorist list “entities which are not enemies of the United States but are enemies of the enemies of the United States”.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, ranking Republican on the House foreign affairs international organizations, human rights, and oversight subcommittee, said that with the withdrawal from Ashraf, the U.S. cannot allow “enemies to the mullah regime basically to be turned over to the mullahs”.
“What’s the overwriting imperative now is for all of us to stand together united and not let the people of Ashraf or the people of Iran stand alone at anytime against these mullah dictators who threaten not only the freedom of their own people but the peace and stability of the region”, Rohrabacher said.
Texas Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat, and Ted Poe, a Republican, said it is feared that the Ashraf Mojahedin residents might be abused or abducted and removed to Iran or isolated areas of Iraq.
“Freedom for Iran is not a question of if; it is a question of when”, said Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Missouri Democrat.
California Democratic Rep. Judy Chu said she was “horrified” that the PMOI is still designated as a terrorist group, noting that the European Union and Britain have removed the designation.
“We have to make sure we protect the people in Camp Ashraf and that we ensure, even with the U.S. leaving, that those residents are protected”, Chu said.
Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, said some family members of those at Camp Ashraf have already been targeted by the authorities in Iran.
“It is a terrible, evil thing and I want you to know that it does not go unnoticed by many of us here in this country”, Franks said.