House of the Oireachtas - Tuesday, 21 June 2011
68. Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 36 innocent Iranian citizens were killed and 350 were wounded, of whom eight were women, by Iraqi forces on 8 April 2011 at the camp Ashraf enclave in Iraq because of the withdrawal of US military protection; if he will raise the possibility at the next EU Council meeting of a United Nations presence at the camp in order to avoid further bloodshed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16458/11]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): I have made clear in answer to previous questions my deep concern at recent reports of the use of force against Camp Ashraf residents in Iraq and the resulting loss of life. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that Ireland and the EU are determined to seek a long-term and peaceful solution to the predicament of the residents of Camp Ashraf. The EU Foreign Affairs Council discussed the situation at Camp Ashraf on 23 May, emphasising the need to respect human rights. I fully support the view widely held within the Council that we must work with the UN (including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees) and US in particular, to seek a lasting resolution to this situation. However, I note that there is also no agreement as yet with the US or the UN on the future of the camp, nor any agreement as yet on the idea of the UN assuming responsibility for its protection. HR Ashton made clear at the FAC last month that more consideration was needed on what is a complex issue and a further discussion may take place at a forthcoming Foreign Affairs Council, which we would obviously welcome.
HR Ashton has clearly set out the EU position, including a strong condemnation of the recent violence in Camp Ashraf, and has conveyed this position in writing and by telephone to Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari. I particularly endorse HR Ashton’s renewal of the EU’s repeated call on the Iraqi government to refrain from the use of violence and to show full respect for the human rights of Camp Ashraf’s residents. I also strongly support her call for a thorough and independent inquiry into the events of 8 April.
Along with our EU partners, Ireland will continue to support clear messages to the Iraqi authorities that while there are no easy remedies to the situation in Camp Ashraf, force is not the answer. Iran’s sovereignty should be respected over the entire territory of Iraq, including in Camp Ashraf, but the human rights of residents of Camp Ashraf must be respected also. The Iraqi government must accept full responsibility for ensuring the protection of all those persons resident on its territory.
In actively seeking a solution, Ireland and its EU partners will continue to work with international institutions and partners, while calling upon the Iraqi government to grant access to independent international observers, to show restraint, and to seek a peaceful and sustainable solution.