Agence France Press
GENEVA — United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday called for an independent inquiry into the Iraqi military’s raid at an Iranian exiles’ camp which left at least 34 people dead.
“The Iraqi military were well aware of the risks attached to launching an operation like this in Ashraf,” Pillay said, referring to the name of the camp located in the north of Baghdad.
“There is no possible excuse for this number of casualties. There must be a full, independent and transparent inquiry, and any person found responsible for use of excessive force should be prosecuted.”
The People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, which runs the camp, said that 300 people had been wounded in the assault last Friday and that there had been more attacks since.
Iraqi security forces raided the camp as tensions between the opponents of Iran’s clerical regime and the Iraqi authorities reached new heights.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh denied the military carried out the killings and said authorities would hold their own investigation.
Pillay said that while details on the deadly raid were only beginning to emerge, it “seems certain that at least 34 people were killed in Camp Ashraf, including seven or more women.”
“Most were shot, and some appear to have been crushed to death, presumably by vehicles,” she noted.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged governments to find a long-term solution for the inhabitants of the camp.
“I am well aware that this is a contentious group, with a complicated history, but leaving them to fester in Camp Ashraf was never going to be a solution,” she noted.
“Clearly, since they are unable to go back to Iran, and are in danger in Iraq, the solution is most likely to involve moving them to third countries,” she added.
The left-wing People’s Mujahedeen was founded in 1965 to oppose the Shah of Iran but after the Islamic revolution in 1979 took up arms against the clerical regime. The group is on the US government terrorist list.
Camp Ashraf was disarmed following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and has become a mounting problem for Iraqi authorities since US forces handed over security for the camp last year.