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Volume 1, Issue 42

News about the Humanitarian Crisis for Camp Ashraf Residents

Friday, October 9, 2009


Victory for Justice and Human Rights

36 Dying Residents of Ashraf Released, Brought Back to Camp Ashraf

  •  The Iraqi Government bows and ends unlawful and inhumane detention of the 36.

  • The 36 were on hunger strike in captivity for 72 days.

  • Upon their return, they are rushed to Ashraf hospital,  many on the verge of death.

  • Hunger strikes in Camp Ashraf, Washington, Berlin, Ottawa, London, Stockholm end.

  • Worldwide campaign to obtain guaranteed protection for Ashraf will go on.

USCCAR: Tehran's Plot Against Ashraf Residents Foiled: 36 Abducted Residents Return to Ashraf
Statement by USCCAR

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The 36 Camp Ashraf residents, taken hostage by Iraqi security forces 71 days ago and subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment at the hands of their captors, triumphantly returned to Ashraf earlier today, thereby foiling a plot, designed by the Iranian regime and implemented by its Iraqi proxies, to destroy Ashraf and slaughter its residents.

The Iraqi Government, which attacked Ashraf on July 28 & 29 at the behest of Tehran, finally bowed to the unflinching resolve of the 36 hostages, hundreds of Ashraf residents, their supporters and families - on hunger strike outside the White House, in Ottawa and in several European capitals - and to the universal condemnation of the deadly and unprovoked assault on Camp Ashraf, home to 3,400 members of the main Iranian opposition group, the PMOI/MEK.

Following this major victory and upon the appeal by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, those in Ashraf and around the world have decided to end their hunger strike and pursue other peaceful means at their disposal until clear, effective and practical guarantees concerning the protection of the residents of Ashraf and their non-displacement within the territory of Iraq as mandated by International Humanitarian Law are put in place. The 10-month siege of Ashraf by Iraqi forces must also end and families, lawyers and friends of Ashraf residents must be allowed to visit the Camp. If these justified demands are not met, the hunger strikers vowed to resume their fast...

The U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents extends its sincere gratitude to all those who joined this valiant campaign and calls on the U.S. and the UN to initiate a thorough investigation into the July raid on Ashraf and the subsequent illegal detention of 36 residents, so that those responsible for this humanitarian tragedy are held to account...  Read More


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Iraq frees 36 Iranian dissidents taken in deadly raid
Agence France Presse

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities have released 36 Iranian dissidents who had been imprisoned for months, were on hunger strike for weeks and also lately refused water, a spokesman for the prisoners said on Wednesday.

The members of the People's Mujahedeen, an exiled opposition group, were seized during a raid on Camp Ashraf, a refugee base in Diyala province north of Baghdad in July that left 11 people dead, and are now mostly in ill-health.

"On the 72nd day of their hunger strike and seventh day of a dry hunger strike, 36 ... hunger strikers who had been taken hostage in Iraq returned triumphantly to Camp Ashraf," said spokesman Shahriar Kia.

"Upon their arrival, they were immediately taken to Ashraf medical centre to rest and be looked after," he added.

The prisoners were arrested by Iraqi police at Camp Ashraf in a July 28-29 operation, held nearby for three days and transferred to a prison in a local town before finally being taken to a detention facility close to Baghdad.

A judge ruled three times that they must be released but officials repeatedly refused to comply, justifying the prolonged detention on the grounds that the prisoners had entered Iraq illegally.

No one from the government was available to comment on the issue, which is considered politically sensitive given Baghdad's close ties with Iran.

In September, US Ambassador Christopher Hill vowed to press the government, which the Mujahedeen say answers to Tehran, to honour assurances that Camp Ashraf residents would be treated humanely and not repatriated to Iran... Read More


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UN human rights office welcomes release of Iranian detainees in Iraq
UN News Centre

Friday, October 9, 2009
9 October 2009 – United Nations human rights officials today welcomed the Iraqi Government’s decision to release 36 members of an Iranian dissident group who had been detained since July when security personnel used force to take control of the camp where they had been staying.

Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told journalists in Geneva that the world body was grateful that the Government had responded to a request from High Commissioner Navi Pillay to release the detainees.

The 36 people are part of around 3,400 members of the People’s Mojahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), also known as Mujahedin-e Khalq, who have been living in Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s Diyala province.

In a two-day operation in late July, Iraqi security personnel took control of Camp Ashraf. Eleven people were killed and dozens more were wounded in that operation, Mr. Colville said.

“All detainees in Iraq, including members of PMOI, are entitled to proper judicial procedures and – if there is evidence they may have committed a crime – a fair trial,” he said. “They should be granted all the rights guaranteed to them under international and domestic laws.

“The Iraqi court at al-Khalis, where the detainees were first held, twice ordered their release because of a lack of credible evidence, but for reasons which remain unclear they continued to be held in detention for a total of some two and a half months.”

Mr. Colville stressed that OHCHR considers it “a matter of paramount importance that a long-term solution be found for the residents of Camp Ashraf, inside Iraq or elsewhere. We recognize that the past history of several members of this group is a complicating factor. But the status quo is not tenable.

“In the meantime, the fundamental rights of the camp’s occupants should be respected, including the right not to be forcibly returned to their home country so long as there is a risk of torture.”

Mr. Colville said OHCHR and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) would continue to monitor the situation in Camp Ashraf... Read More


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Camp Ashraf groups vow to fight on
BBC News Service
Thursday, October 8, 2009

Supporters of the residents of a camp for Iranian dissidents in Iraq say they will continue their international protests demanding the US and the UN give them protection.

On Wednesday, dozens of supporters around the world ended a 72-day hunger strike after one of their main demands was met - the release of 36 Camp Ashraf inmates detained by the Iraqi authorities for the past two-and-a-half months.  They were seized during a raid on 28 and 29 July.

Video filmed by people in Camp Ashraf appears to show Iraqi police and soldiers shooting and beating camp residents. Up to 11 inmates are reported to have been killed and hundreds wounded.

Camp Ashraf was handed over to Iraqi government control at the start of 2009 by the Americans. US forces had taken control of the camp after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

It had long been one of the main bases of the Iranian dissident group, the People's Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI)…

After the seizure of the 36 camp residents in July, an international campaign was mounted to put pressure on Iraq to release them.  Hunger strikes were held in several major cities around the world to publicise the case. In London, 12 relatives and friends of people in the camp kept up their hunger strike outside the US embassy for 72 days.

Now the detainees have been released, they've ended their hunger strike, which consisted of taking only tea and sugar to keep them alive…

Camp Ashraf presents the US with a difficult dilemma. Its handover of control in January was part of its phased withdrawal from Iraq.  The Iraqi government gave assurances that the inmates would be treated humanely and not forcibly returned to Iran. The raid in July put this in question.

Camp residents say the Shia-led Iraqi government - which has close political ties with Tehran - is receptive to Iranian pressure to expel them. They fear that if they are repatriated, they could face torture, imprisonment or execution.

If the US allowed this to happen, it would not fit well with Washington's professed support for opposition activists in Iran.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that the PMOI is still designated a terrorist organisation in the US - a label the European Union lifted earlier this year.

But for now at least, the US seems likely to use its influence on the Iraqi government to make sure it keeps its word on Camp Ashraf...  Read More


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Iraq frees 36 Iranian opposition members
German News Agency (DPA)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Baghdad - Iraqi authorities on Wednesday freed 36 members of an Iranian opposition group detained during July clashes between Iraqi security forces and members of the group.

The detainees were taken into custody during clashes between members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) and Iraqi security forces entering the group's base at Camp Ashraf in northern Iraq. Seven members of the group died in the clashes.

A spokesman for the group, also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq, said the freed detainees had been beaten in custody and that “most of them were on the verge of death.”…

In Washington, supporters of Camp Ashraf ended a 70-day hunger strike they had been staging outside of the White House, claiming vindication with the release of the 36 prisoners. Their protest began during the clashes in late July... Read More


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About Humanitarian Crisis for Iranian Dissidents and their Families in Camp Ashraf

More than 3,400 members of Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin (PMOI/MEK) and their families, among them nearly 1,000 Muslim women, reside in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.  The PMOI was the source of ground breaking revelation in the United States in 2002 about Iran’s two until-then secret nuclear sites at Natanz and Arak.


On July 28-29, 2009, Iraqi forces ordered directly by Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki acting at the behest of Iran rulers, carried out a violent, unprovoked raid on Camp Ashraf, killing 11 residents, wounding 500, and abducting 36.


The brutal raid on Ashraf was a blatant violation of the solemn commitment Iraq had given to the United States that it would provide "humane treatment of the Camp Ashraf residents in accordance with Iraq’s Constitution, laws, and international obligations."

The assault took place while U.S. service members on the scene were observing the situation closely. Regrettably they took no action to prevent the premeditated violence despite direct appeals by Ashraf residents at the outset and during the attack.


International Humanitarian Law Obligate U.S. to Provide Continued Protection for Camp Ashraf Residents in Iraq
On July 2, 2004, the  United States formally recognized members of the PMOI in Camp Ashraf as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention. 


Both the U.S. and Iraq are parties to all four 1949 Geneva Conventions.

Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifies that:

“Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs […]”.

Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifies that:

“In no circumstances shall a protected person be transferred to a country where he or she may have reason to fear persecution for his or her political opinions or religious beliefs.“


United States had legal and moral obligations and responsibilities under international humanitarian law to protect these Iranian exiles.


About the U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents:

The U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR) was established in December of 2003 by families and relatives of residents of Camp Ashraf. The purpose of the Committee is to ensure the safety and security of those Iranians and others living in Camp Ashraf. The Committee will defend the proposition that the protections of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as of other treaties and customary international law, must be applied to the Iranians in Iraq. For more information please visit: www.usccar.org


About Ashraf Monitor

Ashraf Monitor newsletter is a compilation of  news and commentaries about the developing humanitarian crisis for nearly 3,500 members of Iran's main opposition, the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in Camp Ashraf, Iraq.  Ashraf Monitor is compiled and distributed by the US Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR).


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