Inadequate response to massacre in Iraq

111824198 275x300 Inadequate response to massacre in IraqSuch international condemnation as there has been of the deadly attack this month carried out by Iraqi forces against a camp housing members of the Iranian opposition leaves two pertinent questions unanswered. First, is the attack a crime against humanity under the principles of international law;  and, secondly, have the US authorities turned a deliberate blind eye to a massacre on their watch in Iraq as part of a deal with the Iraqi authorities, or as part of a policy of appeasement?

Undoubtedly, the answer to the first question is yes. Video footage of the incident shows Iraqi forces running over unarmed residents with armoured vehicles and Humvees. Further as stated by the Bar Human Rights Committee: “the Camp residents, all of whom are recognised as Protected Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention, were shot at indiscriminately”. The United Nations confirmed that at least 26 men and 8 women were killed, while 178 suffered gunshots out of some 300 injured.

The actions of the Iraqi authorities and specifically Nouri Al-Maliki is an international criminal justice offence which demands that the UN, US and EU condemn the attack and define it appropriately as a crime against humanity. Firing at the unarmed residents with live machine gun rounds in these circumstances was clearly a government sanctioned act of war perpetrated against a civilian population and specifically a civilian population which has repeatedly been recognised as protected under the Convention.

The international community must not water down its condemnation of this attack. In July 2009 a similar attack which left 11 residents dead was met with feeble criticism, a response which for all essential purposes has permitted this latest attack to take place.

The actions of Nouri Al-Maliki, who has long made clear his allegiances to Iran’s theocratic leadership, should have surprised few. What is so shocking is the relative silence of the US government. It is hard to believe that they did not know what was about to happen at Ashraf. They did nothing to try to stop it happening. Worst of all, their silence and inaction has made it almost certain that it will happen again. It can be no coincidence that US forces stationed within the Camp withdrew just hours before the Iraqi onslaught began.

Furthermore, top US government official Robert Gates was in Baghdad and met Al-Maliki hours before the attack began, just as he was in Iraq in July 2009 when the other major offensive was conducted against Ashraf by the Iraqi forces. Mr Gates should be brought to account, and tell us what his knowledge was of the recent outrage, and how he proposes to deal with what occurred.

In addition, he should give a truthful account of why US medical aid, which was readily available, was not in Ashraf within minutes of the Iraqi attack, despite requests.

Simply put, the US forces if they so wished and were so ordered to do from their command in Washington and Baghdad could at the flick of a switch airlift all the wounded to the US military hospital situated in the vicinity of the Camp. This now is the minimum that the US authorities must do.

However, such assistance will not suffice in circumstances where the Iraqi authorities have made clear their intention to destroy the Camp and if necessary kill all the residents.

A duty now falls upon the US authorities, the UN and the EU to demand the immediate removal of Iraqi forces from the Camp and the setting up of a UN and US led team to replace the Iraqi authorities in protecting the Camp. As we have done in Libya, international law permits the involvement of all member states in ensuring the safety of civilian populations. It is these same principles which not only permit US forces and the international community as a whole to directly intervene, but further the Fourth Geneva Convention in fact demands intervention in such circumstances.

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  • pfbulmer

    the fact is the Iraq seems to have a seriously flawed constitution which the US must take the blame for and that contains many democratic elements and political parties based on the religion .

    This is not what a democracy is all about so do not expect democracy from this country democracy has been fudged and does not function with religous parties which should have been banned !

  • Azadeh Hosseini

    Excellent blog. Maleki is a murderer and a tool of the Iranian regime. I am incredibly angry that President Obama is yet to comment on this issue and pull Maleki up on this crime against humanity. Makes you wonder what President Obama is really playing at!!

  • Stanley G Logan

    Baron Carlile of Berriew, QC, as we know, was the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation; hence we can take it that he knows what he’s talking about. Lord Carlile’s assertions make one wonder if indeed the likes of Robert Gates and those within the US administration who are trying to continue the policy of appeasement vis-a-vis the tyrannical mullahs in Iran gave the Iraqi PM the “Green Light” to cowardly maim and murder hundreds of defenceless civilians who were Protected Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention? If so, can criminals like Nouri Al-Maliki as well as instigators such as Robert Gates be tried for crimes against humanity? I would appreciate Lord Carlile’s response. Thank you.

    P.S. What’s so appalling is that apparently it all happened within six hours.

  • scampy2

    Where is the UN investigation on Faluja a city flattened by American illegal weapons that have resulted in a huge rise in birth defects?
    Where are the human rights stooges on war crimes in the illegal Iraq war?

  • somethingbrite

    “Video footage of the incident shows Iraqi forces running over unarmed residents with armoured vehicles and Humvees”
    What have we here? A Tianamen square moment?

  • Lotfollah

    They got a green light from US. A deal with Iranian government. Bush did the same thing in 2003 because they have deal with Iranian government, but Iranian wanted the both ways , then Bush stopped murdering Mujahedin. The world is full of Hitlers and some live in US too.

  • risingstorm

    Thank you Lord carlile for your couragous stance in your article. It appears that a combination of fear from terrorist activities of Iranian regime and its international trade and funding has created a blanket of silence over the issue of MEK and in particular the massacre in camp Ashraf. I do not understand how the US and Mr Obama can talk about respect for human rights and yet they are part of this plot to eliminate the Iranian resistance by proscibing it and giving excuse to the Iraqi and Iranian regimes to carry out massacre the residents of camp Ashraf. US and Mr Obama have blood on their hand and must openly and cleary distance themselves from this bloodbath by condemning it and lift this unjust and unlawful proscription

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