Rights groups call on UN to protect Iranian exile camp

20th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Human rights groups called Wednesday on the United Nations to protect an Iranian exiles' camp in Iraq, after a deadly Iraqi army raid.

"The UN has acknowledged the death of 34 people but no efficient measure of protection has been taken," said Nils de Dardel, from the Swiss lobby group Committee of Solidarity With The Ashraf Camp, which is located in the north of Baghdad.

"The situation of Ashraf is very worrying. Military vehicles are still bringing their armies towards the camp," said Behzad Naziri, member of the National Council of the Resistance of Iran, the main external opposition movement against the Iranian regime.

Warning of potential new attacks by Iraqi forces in coming days or weeks, the lobby groups called for a UN presence at Ashraf, claiming that "the United States should never have returned the security of Ashraf to the Iraqis."

"Without such international action, a new attack could happen," warned Naziri.

The head of World Organization against Torture, Eric Sottas, meanwhile said that "the Arab spring has reinforced the threats faced by Ashraf" as the authorities increase pressure on opposition forces for fear of an uprising.

The UN has called on Iraq to immediately start an independent inquiry into the deadly raid on Camp Ashraf.

The camp is run by the left-wing People's Mujahedeen, which was founded in 1965 to oppose the Shah of Iran. However, after the Islamic revolution in 1979, it 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.

© 2011 AFP

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