UN calls for an investigation on the attack at Camp Ashraf (video)
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Protect Iran’s Freedom Fighters in Camp Ashraf
Louis J. Freeh and Michael B. Mukasey – (Time) -April 18, 2011 – In the early hours of Friday, April 8, while Washington and the media focused on a possible government shutdown, the Iraqi army assaulted a camp of Iranian civilians, called Camp Ashraf, murdering at least 28 residents and wounding hundreds more. Though the Iraqi government has claimed that only three people were killed and describes the events as an attempt to reclaim farmland, a U.N. inspection team found 28 bodies, including those of women, and determined that most were shot to death. Iraqi officials have not allowed journalists to visit the camp.
Located in northwestern Iraq, 120 km (75 miles) from the Iranian border, Camp Ashraf has for more than 20 years been the home of 3,400 members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK, also known as the PMOI), a key opposition group working against the Iranian regime. Camp Ashraf residents were promised legally protected status under the Fourth Geneva Convention in 2003 by senior U.S. commanders in Iraq. General David Petraeus, who served as deputy commander of allied coalition forces, has stated that the turnover of responsibility for Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi government was conditioned on a direct Iraqi assurance that the protected status of its residents would continue. Yet the brazen assault mounted by 2,500 heavily armed Iraqi soldiers on April 8 was not the first unprovoked assault against Camp Ashraf civilians. In July 2009, during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the country, the Iraqi army invaded the camp and killed unarmed residents.
On both occasions, the U.S. has lamented the violence but has failed to take effective action, perhaps in its haste to leave Iraq. Until recently, there was a U.S. military forward operating base called FOB Grizzly adjoining Camp Ashraf. But it has been closed, and this also brought the withdrawal of the U.N.’s observation mission. In the most recent assault, American soldiers were in or near the camp shortly before the attack but happened to withdraw before Iraqi forces proceeded. And sadly, in each case, President Obama and the Secretaries of State and Defense have responded lamely after these violations of humanitarian law by the Iraqi regime. A State Department statement acknowledged that the “crisis and the loss of life was initiated by the government of Iraq and the Iraqi military” but said that the U.S. government has done nothing more than “urge” the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “to avoid violence and show restraint.” Mark Toner, the State Department’s acting deputy spokesman, helpfully added on April 12 that “we do need to be mindful that this is a sovereign matter for the government of Iraq” — a posture of deference that will hardly shake the al-Maliki government to its senses. (Click HERE for article)
Iranian journalist with ties to East Bay killed in April 8 raid by Iraqi forces
Barbara Grady -(Mercury News) – April 18, 2011 – A young Iranian journalist who lived in the East Bay for most of her childhood was among 34 Iranian exiles killed in Iraq on April 8 in a clash with Iraqi forces, her relatives in El Sobrante and Albany said.
Asieh Rakhshani, whom aunts, cousins and uncles remembered as always smiling, talkative and an avid basketball player when she was in school in El Cerrito and Albany, was living in a camp of Iranian dissidents inside Iraq known as Camp Ashraf, when Iraqi security forces visited and a clash ensued.
The United Nations reported Thursday that 34 residents of the camp died, mostly from gunshot, in a raid on the camp by Iraqi security forces. Reporters without Borders identified Rakhshani as one of those killed. She was filming the raid for Iranntv.com, the organization said.
“I’m like her mother,” Rakhshani’s aunt, Ensieh Yazdan, said through tears in a recent interview in Albany. Rakhshani lived with Yazdan in Richmond and Albany for about 12 years until 1999.
“They sent her here to be safe when she was 6 or 7 years old, and she stayed with us until she finished school,” said Yazdan, now living in El Sobrante. Rakhshani rejoined her parents in Camp Ashraf in 1999 after graduating from Albany High School, according to the Yazdan family. (click HERE for article)
Iraqi army bars burials at Iran rebel camp
(AFP) – BAGHDAD — April 17, 2011 – Iraq-based Iranian rebels who lost 34 members in a clash with the Iraqi army this month were barred from burying the dead at a cemetery inside their base, spokesmen for both sides said on Sunday.
The People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) wanted to bury the bodies at a graveyard within Camp Ashraf, which houses around 3,500 opponents of the clerical regime in Tehran, but were prevented from doing so by Iraqi soldiers responsible for securing the camp.
“The cemetery is under the control of the Iraqi army, so if the mujahedeen come to bury their dead, there will be disputes,” said an official at Baquba Operations Command in Diyala province north of Baghdad, where Camp Ashraf is located.
“We have already asked them to bury the corpses outside the cemetery, but inside Camp Ashraf,” added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
PMOI spokesman Shahriar Kia confirmed by telephone that residents had tried to bury the dead at Ashraf’s graveyard but were barred from doing so.
“In fact, the only place that residents of the camp are demanding their friends and relatives be buried is that public cemetery,” he said, adding that the 34 bodies were being kept at a clinic within the camp. (Click HERE for article)
UN calls for immediate probe into Iran camp raid
(AFP) – BAGHDAD – April 16, 2011 – The UN called on Iraq to immediately start an independent inquiry into a raid on an Iranian opposition camp that left 34 dead, after expressing “deep concern” over the incident on Saturday.
The United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) also said it would continue to help the Baghdad government find a permanent solution to deal with Camp Ashraf, which is home to around 3,500 Iranian exiles.
“UNAMI has expressed deep concern over the events and has repeatedly urged the government of Iraq to refrain from the use of force,” a UN statement said.
“UNAMI has noted the initiative of the (government) to establish a commission of inquiry and expects such a commission to be independent and to start its work without delay.”
The statement came a day after UN human rights chief Navi Pillay called for an independent inquiry into the April 7-8 raid on Camp Ashraf, which houses the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI).
Iraqi security forces raided the camp as tensions between the opponents of Iran’s clerical regime and the Iraqi authorities reached new heights. (Click HERE for article)