[Church of Ireland Press Office] The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, The Most Revd Alan Harper, joined by a number of bishops and clergy from across the UK, has written to His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, expressing deepening concern for the welfare of the residents of Camp Ashraf/Liberty in Iraq.
In particular, the letter condemns any threat of force against the people in the camp, whose status as refugees is recognised by the UN. The Archbishop and signatories call for the Secretary General and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene, saying: ‘We believe that the international community, the United Nations and the people of the United States of America are at one in desiring morally acceptable humanitarian standards for all people. Therefore, we strongly urge the United Nations and the Government of the United States to press the Government of Iraq to implement such policies for the benefit of the Iranian refugees in Ashraf and Liberty.’
The full text of the letter:
From The Most Revd Alan Harper, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland and co-signatories as listed:
Dear Secretary General,
We refer to the continuing plight of the residents of Camp Ashraf/Liberty and wish to express deepening concern about the worsening humanitarian situation confronting many defenceless people. We are particularly alarmed by recent reports of a press conference recently held by high ranking officials of the State Department of the United States of America in which it appeared that the residents of Ashraf and the leadership of the PMOI were threatened with armed intervention risking a potential massacre on or after July 20 2012.
We strongly condemn the threat of force or the use of force directed towards the people of Camp Ashraf whose status as refugees has been recognised by the United Nations. We therefore call upon you, Secretary General, and Secretary of State Clinton immediately to intervene. Iraq must be pressed to abide by its international obligations and accord full respect to the human rights of Iranian refugees in Iraq. It is wholly inappropriate to blame the victims of oppression for the crimes of their oppressors as appears to be the position adopted by the two high ranking US officials. We note that a similar rationale was offered for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, on the grounds that it is appropriate that one man should die on behalf of the people. We note that, instead of raising concerns about the safety of the residents and the Iraqi government’s breaches of agreements, the officials preferred to blame the residents and their leaders for the slow progress of relocation to Camp Liberty, a location that is recognised by all reasonable people as falling far short of minimum humanitarian conditions for refugees.
We draw attention to the shortage of water, food, medicines and medical treatment in Camp Liberty. We also point out that freedom of movement for residents is unnecessarily curtailed with round the clock armed police surveillance.We respectfully suggest that the acquiescence of 2000 refugees in their resettlement in Camp Liberty despite its inadequacy demonstrates clearly the good intentions of the Ashraf residents to co-operate with the authorities. Further relocation was halted because Iraq has reneged on earlier agreements. Utility vehicles transferring to Liberty were turned around to Ashraf and personal belongings of the Ashraf residents looted by Iraqi Army units.
We continue to hear daily reports of obstruction of supplies of food, medicine, fuel and other basic necessities. We are also concerned at the continuing failure to protect the humanitarian rights of handicapped and disabled people by denial of paving and ramps in strategically important locations in Camp Liberty.
We believe that the international community, the United Nations and the people of the United States of America are at one in desiring morally acceptable humanitarian standards for all people. Therefore we strongly urge the United Nations and the Government of the United States to press the Government of Iraq to implement such policies for the benefit of the Iranian refugees in Ashraf and Liberty. We believe that the residents have shown clear commitment to a peaceful resolution of the crisis and are prepared fully to relocate to Camp Liberty as soon as minimum humanitarian provisions are put in place. We urge you to use your good offices and internationally recognised influence and stature to achieve a complete resolution of the Ashraf/Liberty impasse with all dispatch.
We offer our respectful good wishes for your international humanitarian endeavours.
The Most Revd A E T Harper
The Most Reverend Dr. Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales/Archesgob Cymru
The Right Revd Tim Steven, The Lord Bishop of Leicester, Convenor of the Lords Spiritual
The Right Revd Adrian Newman, The Bishop of Stepney
The Rt Revd Christopher Hill, The Lord Bishop of Guildford
The Right Revd Mike Hill, The Lord Bishop of Bristol
The Right Revd John Davies, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon
The Right Revd Stephen Conway, The Bishop of Ely
The Right Revd James William Scobie Newcome, The Bishop of Carlisle
The Right Revd John Pritchard, The Lord Bishop of Oxford
The Right Revd Alan Gregory Clayton Smith, The Bishop of St Albans
The Right Reverend Robert Paterson, The Lord Bishop of Sodor & Man and a member of Tynwald [Tynwald is the oldest continuous parliament in the world]
The Right Revd James Langstaff, The Bishop of Rochester
The Right Revd Michael Langrish, The Lord Bishop of Exeter
The Right Revd Dominic Walker, The Bishop of Monmouth
The Right Revd Andrew John, The Bishop of Bangor
The Rt Revd Nicholas Read, The Lord Bishop of Blackburn
The Right Revd Dr John Inge, The Bishop of Worcester
The Right Revd Stephen Platten, The Lord Bishop of Wakefield
The Right Reverend Richard Frith, The Bishop of Hull
The Revd Martin Wharton, The Lord Bishop of Newcastle
The Right Revd Dr Lee S Rayfield, The Bishop of Swindon
Father Frank Nally, SSC Solidarity Desk, Columban Faith & Justice Office, London
Reverend Ingrid Munro, Diocese of Derby