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Ex-UN official: Kobler’s used MOU for persecution, not protection of Iranian dissidents


Tahar Boumedra
Tahar Boumedra

NCRI, 7 Feb 2013 - The agreement between the United Nations and the government of Iraq on Camp Ashraf is ‘worthless’ and has lead to the ‘persecution, not protection’ of its residents, the former advisor to the UN’s special representative in Iraq has declared.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) made no reference to human rights and lead to thousands of Iranians being uprooted and imprisoned in the Camp Liberty detention centre, Tahar Boumedra told a conference.

Mr Boumedra said it was initially his idea to draft and sign an MOU with Iraq with the aim of giving status and dignity to Ahraf residents.

But when the agreement was ‘hijacked’ and used by UN Special Representative Martin Kobler to send people to a prison camp called Liberty, Mr Boumedra said he was forced to resign.

He later told the US Congress under oath on September 13, 2012, how he had visited Liberty in December 2011 and returned to report that it was ‘not fit to accommodate 3,400 men and women’.
Mr Boumedra was speaking at an international conference in Paris on Saturday (Feb 2).


Martin Kobler’s intervention

He told delegates: “The first idea of an MOU with the government of Iraq was mine. 

“We did it with the best of intentions is to give a status to the Ashrafis, to find a way out with dignity.  Unfortunately this idea was hijacked and used indeed to send people to a detention center. 

“But Kobler’s intervention in this process made it an MOU for persecution, not protection.

“It made no reference whatsoever to humanitarian law. International humanitarian law is unacceptable for the government of Iraq. In fact it was deleted from the draft.”

Mr Boumedra said 50 million dollars of US taxpayers money was spent on the MOU, adding: “I think somebody here should be held accountable for evicting people from their peaceful life in Ashraf at the cost of $50 million given to Ambassador Kobler in order to evict these people and send them to a camp ironically called Camp Liberty.”


MOU sent people to detention center

Ashraf residents were also meant to provide for themselves, he added, but instead they were locked up and deprived of freedom or contact with the outside world.

He told the audience: “The MOU has sent people to a detention center and deprived them from any activity that is by nature inherently linked to the status of a refugee.”

Mr Boumedra branded the MOU as having ‘no legal value whatsoever’ and said: “Lawyers here will agree with me that a document like this is in serious violation of the Vienna Convention and null and void because it’s produced by coercion, and the threat of use of force. 

“This document should not be referred to as a reference in dealing with Ashraf.  The mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is clear. 

“The UNHCR should deal with the Ashrafis directly, grant them refugee status and the international community should share the burden of receiving the Ashrafis.” 

The EU was also spending three billion dollars in Iraq, which should entitle them to tell the Iraqi that what is happening is unacceptable, Mr Boumedra said.

But he went on: “Unfortunately the EU money is also spent towards sending the Ashrafis into a detention center.”


Sharp criticism of UNAMI

Mr Boumedra also had sharp criticism for the UNAMI, the UN mission in Iraq, for recruiting an Ethiopian expert to assess conditions in Camp Liberty, then ignoring his advice when he declared it was unfit for human habitation.
Internal UN document: Camp Liberty does not meet UN standards
He quoted a document in which Martin Kobler was ‘flagrantly lying’ when he wrote: “The UNHCR and UNAMI Human Rights Office have now confirmed that the facilities at Camp Liberty are in accordance with the international humanitarian standards stipulated in the MOU.” 

He added: “But at the beginning I told you the MOU does not stipulate any humanitarian standards. So you can see how UNAMI and its leadership is misleading the international community, misleading the whole world, by playing on this kind of linguistic word game.”


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