A senior Euro MP has expressed astonishment at what he describes as “US attempts to conceal information about seven hostages, including six women, abducted in Iraq.” Struan Stevenson, a Scottish Conservative MEP and President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq, has said that he was surprised by US Secretary of State John Kerry's response to a question about the hostages when he said the information was “classified”.
Speaking from Strasbourg, the Euro MP said:
“I was astonished when John Kerry told members of Congress at a special hearing of the foreign affairs committee in Washington, on Tuesday 10th December, that the whereabouts of the seven Iranian dissidents kidnapped during the massacre in Ashraf was classified. I had understood from repeated statements from the State Department that they had no evidence of Iraqi involvement in the massacre and abduction and therefore no knowledge of the hostages’ whereabouts. I have now written to Secretary Kerry to ask whether his reference to ‘classified’ information means that in fact the US government does have knowledge of the whereabouts of these abducted refugees. Indeed, in my letter to John Kerry I have enquired whether US attempts to reach a compromise agreement with the Iranian regime on nuclear enrichment must now trump all considerations of freedom, justice and human rights in the zone? If so, it is deeply discouraging.
“I also referred in my letter to the joint statement by two UN working groups (Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances), three Special Rapporteurs (the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women), and the United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, regarding the seven Ashraf hostages. It shows the obvious responsibility of the Government of Iraq on the raid on Camp Ashraf and the abduction of the hostages.” [See note 2 to editors below.]
“I said in my letter that this statement by the UN working groups clearly exposes the direct responsibility of the Government of Iraq in this crime against humanity. Regrettably, however, over the past 100 days, the United States has attempted to conceal this information, no doubt due to political considerations. I have just returned from a visit to Iraq in late November, where I met with many leading political, religious and ethnic minority figures. From these and other reliable sources within both Iraq and Iran I have been assured that the 7 hostages, 6 of whom are women, are still being held in secret prisons under the control of Maliki in Baghdad, while he tries to negotiate a deal on their ultimate fate with his puppet-masters in Iran.”
“Amnesty International made it quite clear on 19 November that “The seven Iranian exiles abducted on 1 September are now known to be held by the Iraqi security forces at an unofficial detention facility in central Baghdad. They are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment and could be forcibly returned to Iran.” In such circumstances, I urged Secretary Kerry to demand the immediate release of the hostages by the Iraqi government and simultaneously to urge the UN Secretary-General, UNAMI and the UN Security Council robustly to join him in this demand and to hold Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to account for his clear involvement in these horrific crimes. I have written to the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs - Baroness Ashton, in a similar vein.”
Notes to editor:
1. Struan Stevenson is a Conservative Euro MP for Scotland and is President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq.
2. The UN statement issued on Monday 9 December is available at: http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/%28httpNewsByYear_en%29/3...
3. For further information, please contact:
Tel: 0131 554 9866
Mob: 07823 221 637
Thursday 12 December 2013