Parliamentarians demand action on Iraq refugees

The Church of England Newspaper – December 23rd, 2010
THE SIEGE and ongoing psychological torture of Iranian residents in Camp Ashraf in Iraq has been sharply condemned by a leading political group.

The International Parliamentary Campaign in Defence of Ashraf (IPCDA) has deplored the maltreatment by Iranian intelligence agents and Iraqi armed forces of the refugees.

Members of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) have lived in Camp Ashraf – which is about 120 kilometres west of Iran – as refugees and are recognised as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention in 2004.

The US army handed over the protection of Ashraf to the Iraqis at the beginning of 2009. Nuri al-Maliki rules the city and his government has since been carrying out a “cruel and inhumane siege on the camp”, the IPCDA claims. It claims that residents have been denied access to their relatives, lawyers, doctors and MPs and that the “unlawful” violence has left 11 residents dead and hundreds injured.

IPCDA said: “The Parliamentary Campaign condemns in the strongest terms the unlawful siege of Ashraf which violates the rights of the residents under the Geneva Conventions, international law and International Humanitarian Law. We welcome the European Parliament written declaration adopted on November 25, 2010, reiterating the ‘protected persons’ status of Ashraf residents and calling on EU foreign affairs chief Baroness Catherine Ashton to urge the UN to ‘provide urgent protection’ for Ashraf.”

The IPCDA is calling on the US to reinstate their forces immediately and to take over responsibility for its residents’ protection and safety.

“We further urge the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) to set up a permanent representation at Camp Ashraf and take necessary measures to lift all humanitarian restrictions imposed by the Iraqi government and to end the ongoing psychological torture of the residents, particularly of those lying in hospital beds.”

Ashraf is named after Ashraf Rajavi, a political prisoner during the Shah regime.

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