Rights group urges end of “harassment” in Iranian camp in Iraq

LONDON, July 13 (Reuters) – The Iraqi government should halt the “harassment” of Iranian exiles living in Camp Ashraf, human rights group Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

The 3,400 Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, lack any formal status in Iraq. The government has vowed to close the camp by the end of 2011.

Amnesty said residents had claimed they were unable to buy basic medicines and had reportedly been denied permission to travel outside the camp to receive medical treatment.

“Amnesty International urges the Iraqi government to cease its harassment of Iranian exiles living in Camp Ashraf, and to ensure that they have unhindered access to medical care and other humanitarian needs,” it said in a statement.

“Amnesty International has repeatedly urged the Iraqi government to fully respect the human rights of the residents of Camp Ashraf, to investigate the attacks on the camp by Iraqi security forces and to ensure accountability for unlawful killings, torture and other violations.

“In particular, Amnesty International continues to seek assurances from the Iraqi government that no action will be taken to forcibly return Camp Ashraf residents to Iran.”

Camp Ashraf is the base of the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran which the United States, Iraq and Iran consider a terrorist organisation. The European Union removed it from its terrorism blacklist in 2009.

The group, seeking the overthrow of Iran’s Islamic government, mounted attacks on Iran from Iraq before Saddam Hussein’s 2003 downfall. In the 1970s, it led a guerrilla campaign against the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran, including attacks on U.S. targets.

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