February 19, 2018

Hunger strikers vow: ‘We’ll die if it saves the lives of others’


Hunger strikers camped outside the US embassy in London have warned they are prepared to die in protest at the ‘massacre’ of Iranians in Iraq.

The five women and one man have spent more than ten weeks in a makeshift camp and are now in a serious condition as their health deteriorates.

Touran Ranjbar, 51, told Metro: ‘I don’t want to die. I don’t want to be hungry or sleep outside in the cold but I have no choice. This is the only solution left. If I die at least I can do it helping to save the lives of others.’

The protest began in September when 52 Iranians were killed at the Camp Ashraf refugee settlement near Baghdad, which is home to exiled opposition MEK group members.

Campaigners believe Iraqi government troops were behind the attack and have accused the US of breaking a promise to ensure the protection of the camp’s residents, who fled Iran in the 1980s. The hunger strikers say seven survivors of the attack were taken ‘hostage’, although Iraq denies any involvement in the killings or alleged abductions.

University of Westminster lecturer Sia Rajabi, 56, said he would not eat until the ‘hostages’ were returned.

He said: ‘It’s very difficult not eating, it is affecting my body, I can’t really walk anymore. But I have to do something to draw awareness of what is happening. I’m not going to just sit on the sofa at home watching TV while this is happening.’

The US handed over control of the camp to Iraqi forces in 2009 and said security was their responsibility.

A US embassy spokeswoman said America had condemned and ‘continues to condemn in the strongest terms the horrific attack’.