The outgoing UN special envoy to Iraq on Tuesday criticized the leaders of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) for human rights abuses at a camp in Iraq
The UN has been involved in relocating members of the MKO, which is also known as MEK and is regarded by Iran as a terrorist group, to a camp on the outskirts of the Iraqi capital, Camp Hurriya which was formerly known as Camp Liberty, while it works to resettle them abroad.
UN envoy Martin Kobler, who will take up a similar position in the Democratic Republic of Congo next month, told the Security Council that the United Nations had received complaints about the group’s leadership at the camp.
“Of increasing concern are the human rights abuses in Camp Hurriya itself by the camp leadership,” Kobler said. “Hundreds of daily monitoring reports suggest that the lives of Camp Hurriya members are tightly controlled.”
“A significant number of residents have reported to UN monitors that they are not free to leave the camp, to participate in the resettlement process offered by UNHCR, to contact family members outside Iraq, or to have contact with other relatives even within the camp itself,” he said, referring to the UN refugee agency.
Some Hurriya residents reported being denied access to medical treatment by camp leaders, while others spoke of verbal and other forms of abuse for disagreeing with camp leaders or voicing the desire to leave, Kobler said.
The MKO, taken off the U.S. list of terrorist organizations last year, fought alongside the forces of Iraq’s late dictator Saddam Hussein in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
The group is no longer welcome in Iraq under the Shiite-led government that came to power after U.S.-led forces invaded and toppled Saddam in 2003.
There have been two rocket attacks on Camp Hurriya this year, one in February and another last month. Some 10 residents were killed and 71 wounded.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky also criticized the group, saying, “We regret that MEK and its supporters continue to focus on public distortions of the UN’s efforts to promote a peaceful, humanitarian solution on Camp Ashraf and, in particular, its highly personalized attacks on the UN envoy for Iraq.”
There are around 100 Iranians remaining at Camp Ashraf who refuse to leave, Kobler said. He described the situation at Ashraf as tense.
Last week lawyers for the families at Camp Hurriya held a news conference in New York to present a petition to the United Nations calling for an immediate return to Camp Ashraf.
The MKO insists that the United States, whose forces initially helped them settle in Ashraf after the 2003 invasion, still bears responsibility for their safety.