At Ashraf on the Iraq-Iran border, Iranian dissidents are under attack from both sides, writes Christopher Booker
Sunday Teleghraph – By Christopher Booker – With the prospect of Iraq’s Christian community being forced to flee the country after nearly 2,000 years, it seems another tragedy is nearing its climax in that unhappy land. Government troops, under the personal direction of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, have teamed up with the thugs of Iran’s Qods force to step up their assault on Camp Ashraf.
This once-neat desert town near the Iranian border has been home, for the past decade, to more than 3,000 exiles belonging to the main Iranian opposition group, the PMOI (the People’s Mujahideeen of Iran). In 2003 the exiles gave up their weapons, in return for written guarantees of safety from the US government. Now, after besieging the camp for months, cutting off medical supplies and deafening the inhabitants round the clock with 140 loudspeakers, Iraqi and Iranian forces have been beating up and wounding dozens of the exiles (including, over Christmas, patients in the hospital). In Tehran last week, Ali Saremi, a prominent Iranian dissident, was hanged because of his links to Ashraf.
The residents – whose cause is supported by 53 former prime ministers and ministers from across the world, including Britain – fear a final assault, followed by deportation to Iran to face prison or execution. And that promise of protection? Washington, it seems, has washed its hands.