Iraq: Van Bommel urges postponement of closure of Camp Ashraf

30 November 2011

Iraq: Van Bommel urges postponement of closure of Camp Ashraf

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel has welcomed Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal’s promise to present the case in the EU Council of Ministers for a postponement of the closure of Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wants to clear out the camp’s inhabitants, many of them member of the Iranian group the Mujahidin Khalk, and intends to close the facility by January 1st, 2012. ‘Foreign Minister Rosenthal has promised to present the case at European level for more time to be allowed to find a solution for the inhabitants of Camp Ashraf,’ says Van Bommel.

Harry van BommelCamp Ashraf is a village in Iraq inhabited by guerrilla fighters who have fled Iran. They arrived during the 1980s and found shelter in the camp with their families. Around 3,000 people live there. After the election of the pro-Iranian government, Prime Minister Maliki wanted rid of these oppositionists as soon as possible. The Mujahidin Khalk had in the past been put on the list of terrorist organisations, but in recent years has developed very close links with the US. Iran exerted pressure to have them dealt with.

Van Bommel says he is “drawing attention to the human aspect of the lot of Camp Ashraf’s inhabitants, not to the politics. The humanitarian aspect of the eviction is not being sufficiently regulated because the inhabitants won’t be safe in either Iran or Iraq. This additional time could be used to look for asylum for the individual inhabitants of Camp Ashraf. What’s been requested, that they be housed together, is in my opinion impractical, so the decision to close the camp must be postponed. I’m please that the Minister agrees and will make efforts towards this.”

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