House members call on administration to move Iranians held in Camp Liberty

Rohrabacher was speaking of the more than 3,000 members of Iran's dissident group Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), who are now being held in Camp Liberty in Iraq. The United States moved this group to Camp Liberty after Iraq removed them from their former place of internment at Camp Ashraf, after which the U.S. said it would vouch for their safety.

ADVERTISEMENT
But many have criticized the conditions at Camp Liberty, and some have said it is more of a concentration camp than a temporary holding place for the MEK. Rohrabacher's delegation added on Tuesday that the conditions at Camp Liberty are making it easier for Iran to attack these people.

"Moving the residents to Camp Liberty has only made the 3,100 members of the MEK — whom Tehran considers its biggest internal threat and seeks to destroy — more vulnerable to attacks as we witnessed the tragic Feb. 9 attack on the camp which left 7 people dead and nearly 100 wounded," the delegation said in a release.

The delegation said the MEK members should be returned to Camp Ashraf for their own safety. After that, it said, the Obama administration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees should make a finding that they are political refugees.

The MEK was a U.S.-designated terrorist organization until last year, but Rohrabacher's statement noted a New York Times story that said many in the U.S. now see the MEK as a "legitimate democratic alternative to the Iranian government." It also said very few have been resettled, which he said is a "disaster."

"Therefore it is time for the UNHCR to take the necessary and preventive action to declare all the residents to be refugees," the delegation said. "It was unethical for the United States to have endorsed the relocation of the people whom we promised to protect to Camp Liberty where we knew they would not have proper protection just because it wants to please Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the ruling mullahs of Iran."

Rohrabacher's statement was released after his Feb. 17 meetings in Paris with Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

The delegation said the Obama administration needs to talk to members of this opposition group, and said talks with Iran's current leaders have "only helped the regime getting closer to the Bomb and legitimize its suppression of dissent in Iran and support for terrorists in the region."

Rohrabacher is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats. Also attending the meeting were Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), who chairs the subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade; Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), the ranking member of the Homeland Security subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence; and Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.).