CC: The Representative of Ashraf Residents, Martin Kobler, Jean De Ruyt, Hushyar Zebari
We the undersigned would like to express our serious concerns about the fate of residents of Ashraf.
We note that:
· The residents of Ashraf have already been subjected to two military belligerences by the Iraqi armed forces and have suffered the loss of many lives.
· The Iraqi government has announced the decision to impose a compulsory and forcible relocation of Ashraf residents to various parts of Iraq without making any reasonable provisions for their protection.
· The peaceful relocation and resettlement of Ashraf residents in third countries would not be feasible without the positive collaboration of the Iraqi government.
· Both the MEPs and the UNHCR have declared that the resettlement of these asylum seekers would encounter serious practical difficulties within the announced deadline, set by the Iraqi Government; therefore resolving the situation positively may end in failure.
· According to experts, should the UN be resolved to conclude this affair, she could under such extraordinary circumstances grant refugee status to the residents of Ashraf.
· Prodigality and disregard for the set time frame, lack of clear and firm objectives and policy, and low priority for the human rights of these asylum seekers could result in catastrophic and fatal consequences.
· Should a probable third massacre ensue; the enraged conscience asks why such horrendous bloodshed was not prevented.
May we remind you:
· The massacre of the captives in Nazi Death Camps,
· The massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila Camps in Beirut,
· The Srebrenica massacre (Despite the presence of UN Protection Force),
· And, the killings and executions since 1979 to-date, and the massacre of Iran’s political prisoners in the summer of 1988,
have never been forgiven nor forgotten. History shall never forget, and will certainly detest yet another massacre should it occur in Ashraf.
We nevertheless do believe that there is still time for a peaceful and conciliatory solution to this predicament.
Any or a combination of the solutions outlined below (or similar) could be adopted as possible preventative courses of action to defuse the situation:
· Deployment of UN blue helmeted international troops (or private security forces) to Ashraf until the 31st December.
· Endorsement of a specific and confirmed timescale by the UNHCR for completing the asylum seekers’ applications, declaration of consent by the host third countries and a confirmed quota of refugees they are prepared to accept, an extension of the deadline by the Iraqi authorities, and the commitment to all of the above by the residents of Ashraf.
· Transferral of one of the evacuated US bases to the UN Blue Helmet forces (or private security forces), and/or a UN monitoring team stationed in this new location. This should then be followed by a safe transfer of the residents to this camp, while the UNHCR examines the asylum seekers’ applications.
· Secure transfer of all the residents of Ashraf to the nearest safe alternative third country, in order to allow the completion of all administrative and legal processes by the UNHCR.
We prevail upon all involved parties to do their utmost in order to bring this matter to a peaceful conclusion. The year 2011 started off with conflict and bloodshed, but it can end in peace.