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Joint WCC-CEC letter concerning Camp Ashraf, Iraq

18 September 2009

To:
The Honorable
Ms Navanethem Pillay
High Commissioner for Human Rights

Geneva, 18 September 2009

Your Excellency,

Greetings from the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches.

We are writing to you to convey our deepest concern for the well being and security of 3400 members of the Iranian opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran/PMOI in Camp Ashraf, Iraq.

We have been highly alarmed by the events of 28 and 29 July 2009, when Iraqi Security Forces attacked Camp Ashraf. This attack left 11 dead and several hundred wounded while 36 people were arbitrarily arrested and are still held in custody despite an Iraqi court order on 24 August for their release. Meanwhile the 36 detainees as well as residents of Camp Ashraf and their relatives in different parts of the world have been on a hunger strike for over 50 days now, something that poses a serious threat to their lives.

Furthermore, the presence of several hundred of women and children in Camp Ashraf makes all the more urgent the need for the adoption of effective measures for the prevention of a new humanitarian crisis. The residents of Camp Ashraf should not be involuntarily deported, expelled or repatriated in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, nor should they be forcibly displaced inside Iraq in violation of the relevant provisions of the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian law.

Your Excellency, appreciating your strong commitment and struggle for the protection and promotion of human rights and world peace, we would like to ask you to place an observatory team of the UN in Camp Ashraf and if possible to launch an international fact-finding mission, in order to avoid a new outburst of violence against the unarmed population of Camp Ashraf and prevent a possible humanitarian disaster.

Once again, we offer our appreciation and thanks for your leadership and timely intervention.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary
World Council of Churches

The Venerable Colin Williams
General Secretary
Conference of European Churches