Amnesty International – Urgent Action
Six Iranian residents of Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, have been detained since they were arrested at the camp on 8 April and not permitted contact with their families or lawyers. They were beaten and injured. Amnesty International fears for their safety.
Bahman Toloo, Mehdi Ghafouri, Hamid Makki, Hossein Eyni, Babak Karimi, and Asghar Mehdizadeh were detained when Iraqi security forces sought to take greater control of Camp Ashraf, home to some 3,400 Iranian refugees and exiles long resident in Iraq, on 8 April using excessive and lethal force against residents. All six sustained injuries, including from beatings, and were briefly taken to Baquba hospital for treatment before being moved first to prison and then to police custody in al-Khalis, near Baquba. They are not allowed access to their relatives or lawyers and no charges are known to have been brought against them. Lawyers who have previously represented Camp Ashraf residents are said to have received threats from the Iraqi authorities. The six are believed to have gone on hunger strike to protest against their arrest and ill-treatment and there is increasing concern for their health.
According to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), a banned Iranian opposition group, 34 residents of Camp Ashraf, home to members and supporters of the PMOI, have died as a result of the actions by Iraqi security forces on 8 April, and more than 300 have been injured. Clashes broke out after Iraqi security forces took up positions in the camp using armored personnel carriers and, it is alleged, used excessive force, including live fire, against residents who tried to resist them.
The residents of Camp Ashraf are members and supporters of the PMOI, a political organization opposed to the Iranian government and outlawed in Iran which formerly engaged in armed action against the Iranian government. The Camp Ashraf residents were first allowed to reside in Iraq when the country was ruled by Saddam Hussain and hostile to Iran. After Saddam Hussain was overthrown by a US-led allowance in 2003, US forces effectively protected the residents of Camp Ashraf but this protection was later withdrawn under an agreement between the Iraqi and US governments. Since then, the residents of Camp Ashraf have been exposed to increasing pressure from the Iraq government, apparently at the behest of the Iranian authorities, and the Iraq government has said they must leave Iraq before the end of 2011.