Iranian exiles and supporters of the main opposition staged a gathering on Friday in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York as the UN Security Council was busy reviewing matters pertaining to Iraq.
Some of the participants in the gathering were families of residents of Camp Ashraf, Iraq, which is home to 3,400 members of the main Iranian opposition, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
The demonstrators demanded respect for the rights of Ashraf residents as well as guaranteeing their protection by UN forces in Iraq.
A renowned Iranian athlete, Moslem Eskandar Filabi, also spoke at the event, saying the United States has obligations for the protection of Ashraf residents.
In 2004, the US recognized the residents as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Conventions and signed bilateral agreements with each of the residents, promising them protection in exchange for voluntary disarmament. The residents voluntarily disarmed, but in early 2009, the US transferred the camp’s control to Iraqi forces, who subsequently carried out a bloody raid against the camp in July 2009 at the behest of the Iranian regime, killing 11 residents and injuring 500 more.
In his speech in New York, Mr. Filabi said, “We want the UN to protect our children and our brothers and sisters in Ashraf.”
He also referred to the Iranian regime’s intelligence agents who have camped in front of Ashraf’s main gate since February, threatening the residents with death and more attacks on a daily basis. “We want the UN to prevent the psychological torture of the residents originating from those gathering in front of the main gate every day.”
“The siege on Ashraf must end,” Mr. Filabi said, referring to the Iraqi government cutting off the residents’ access to foodstuffs, medical supplies and fuel, and a ban on visits by journalists, lawyers and human rights advocates to the camp.
“We will support our children in Ashraf with all our might, with every penny in our pockets and will even sell our houses if we have to,” he added.