New Internationalist

Camp Ashraf: Iran and Iraq’s crime against humanity

Since the beginning of this year, Iran has hanged 490 prisoners, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in that country.

Under the current government, Iran is one of a very small number of nations which carries out public hangings and executes minors and those whose political or religious beliefs, or sexual orientation, do not conform to what the state thinks is right. The regime still stones women to death and uses the worst methods of torture on prisoners.

One of the biggest crimes that this regime has committed is the mass killing of 120,000 members and supporters of the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), which is dedicated to replacing the current regime with a democratic alternative.

Amongst those murdered are two of my own aunts. Afsaneh Rajabi, 22 years old, was executed by a firing squad in Tehran on 7 April 1983. She had escaped prison once, where she had faced horrific torture, and went underground. Some time later, an individual close to her was arrested and tortured into disclosing Afsaneh’s location. She was re-arrested and detained in Qasr and Evin prisons before being executed.

Zahra Rajabi was assassinated in Turkey by the Iranian regime.

My other aunt, Zahra Rajabi, 39, was assassinated on 20 February 1996 in Istanbul by a hit squad sent from Tehran and commanded by the mullahs’ consular secretary in that city. Zahra was a senior member of the PMOI and had arrived in Turkey a few days earlier to attend to the problems of Iranian refugees in that country.

A more recent crime against humanity, carried out by the Iranian regime, is the instructions they have given to destroy a refugee camp which has been home to 3,400 Iranian dissidents for over two decades. These residents took refuge in Iraq in order to escape the danger of getting killed by the Iranian regime.

Camp Ashraf’s residents are members of the PMOI. They have in the past two years come under bloody attack from an Iraqi regime acting on the orders of the Iranian government. In two separate attacks, the latest of which was in April this year, 47 innocent men and women were murdered by Iraqi forces firing on unarmed residents. Shots were aimed directly at the head and vital organs to ensure maximum death toll.

These crimes against Camp Ashraf residents took place despite the fact that all 3,400 members were given ‘protected persons’ status under the Fourth Geneva Convention at the time when US forces invaded Iraq. The US had promised to protect each individual from the Iranian regime.

The residents are today under 24/7 psychological torture through the use of 300 loud-speakers, which have been placed all around the camp by the Iranian regime. Through the speakers, they shout out abusive, humiliating and degrading words targeted mostly at the camp’s 1,000 female residents. One can only imagine the impact of such an intense and sickening method of mental torture on the residents.

Additionally, on numerous occasions, the Iraqi authorities have mentioned the plan to close the camp down ‘by all means’ by the end of 2011 and relocating the residents to another location within Iraq. This plan is the precursor for a further massacre.

This bloodbath in Camp Ashraf is a crime against humanity and cannot be ignored by the United Nations or the international community. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has taken an important step in recognizing the residents as asylum seekers, while the EU has added its support for finding a solution to this humanitarian crisis by appointing a special representative for Camp Ashraf. The international community must now support and facilitate a permanent UN presence at the camp until such time as the UNHCR has dealt with the refugee applications of the residents. Granting the residents status as asylum seekers will be futile if they are left in the hands of an Iraqi regime intent on their murder.

Fail to act and another massacre will ensue. This time the number of deaths will undoubtedly be in the hundreds. The international community must act now.

Previous posts on Camp Ashraf:
Do you know what is happening in Camp Ashraf?
Camp Ashraf under fire
The shame of Camp Ashraf

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  1. #1 Juergista 28 Sep 11

    Precisely for these crimes the Iranian people want and will overthrow this barbaric regime

  2. #2 Parvin 28 Sep 11

    Prevent another massacre in camp Ashraf today not tommorrow!

  3. #3 Majid 28 Sep 11

    A very informative article. One wonders what it takes for the international community to get involved. The situation in camp Ashraf needs immediate attention of the United Nations and the world community. This government has brought nothing but death and destruction to the Iranian people. People in camp Ashraf are freedom fighters seeking a secular democracy for the future Iran. What is the real difference between Libya and Iran. Libya having no opposition within a matter of few month the Western countries helped organize and form a National Liberation Army to overthrow Qaddafi. The only crime of people in Ashraf is they formed their National Liberation Army of Iran over 25 years ago. It is time to protect Ashraf and support the freedom fighters in Ashraf towards building a new Iran. Free and Democratic.

  4. #4 Ali 28 Sep 11

    Regime Change in Iran

    While Iran’s nuclear program is in development, and Iranian President Ahmadinejad in the U.N. general assembly, for several years in roll, he called 9/11 terrorist acts mysterious, and said the U.S. used it as a pretext to attack Iraq and Afghanistan, also he repeated comments casting doubt on the origins of the Holocaust.
    On July 26, 2011 U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who is nominated to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee, that “Iran was working toward a massive attack to force the American military out of Iraq. Dempsey cited the bombing by the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah in 1983 in which 241 Marines were killed.” By a truck loaded with explosives blew up in front of the American Embassy in Beirut. When on November4,1986 the president of Iran to be Rafsanjani said the blow the U.S. received in Lebanon “is attributed to us and it should be.” Five years later, on July20,1991 the former Revolutionary Guards Corps Minister, Mohsen Rafiqdoust, admitted, “The TNT and ideology (for the Beirut bombing of the Marine barracks) were sent there from Iran.”
    Gen. added, “Iran’s activities in southern Iraq are intended to produce some kind of Beirut-like moment and in so doing, to send a massage that they have expelled us from Iraq”, as it happened in Beirut.
    On August 28, 2007, Iran’s president, Ahmadinejad, declared a “readiness to fill the great power vacuum” in the region. In addition, a few weeks later, he told the UN General Assembly, “I officially declare that the era of post second World War relationships have ended. Palestine and Iraq will be cleared of the occupiers and the people of Europe will be free of the pressures of the Zionists.”

    The best way to achieve regime change in Tehran is for the U.S. government to empower the Iranian opposition, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (MEK).
    Empowerment requires removal of the main Iranian opposition groups from the foreign terrorist list, which it has been maintained only by the U.S . Only regime change in Tehran can ensure that extremist Iranian terrorism regime do not wind up with the bomb and its wrong ideology.
    The MEK and National Consul of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) are feared by the Tehran regime more than any groups, according to research of the Iran Policy Committee. The IPC finds that state run Iranian media assail the MEK and mention it 230 percent more than all others opposition groups combined.
    The clerical dictators in Iran rightfully should fear the MEK. The MEK has vast support both inside and outside of Iran. It stands for democratization, freedom of religion, and is a shining example of civil society, protecting minority rights and treating women and men equally. The MEK has been the main source of intelligence on Iranian nuclear sites, exposing Iran’s decade’s long deception by revealing once hidden major nuclear sites in Iran.
    On September 17,2011 a senior panel of former Secretaries, Generals, and Governors, as well as State and justice Departments officials and attorney General Michael Mukasey, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, Governor Ed Rendell, Ambassador John Bolton, and FBI Director Louis Freeh denounced the continuing designation of the MEK was acting as a license for genocide at Camp Ashraf, Iraq,
    On July 2010, the MEK won a ruling from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the Secretary of State must reconsider the designation of MEK as a foreign terrorist organization because the information she was relying on to continue that designation was not sufficient.
    In May 2003, the MEK voluntarily signed a disarmament agreement with the American forces in Iraq. After sixteen months investigation by American to determine whether anyone had any links to terrorism, all 3800 passed the test, which included DNA samplings.
    Subsequently, the residents of Ashraf received “protected persons” status under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention. From day first until the end of 2008, the residents of camp Ashraf remained under the protection of American forces. The Iraqi government which has long been allied with the Iranian terrorist regime continues to take orders from Tehran concerning the Camp Ashraf. As the Iranian regime regards the MEK residents of Ashraf as its number one enemies, it has repeatedly demanded of Baghdad that it close down the Camp and repatriates the residents to Iran.
    The Camp has been attacked twice by Iraqi forces, once in July 2009 and once in April 2011, and both times, when the secretary of defense of the U.S. was present in Iraq. The last time resulting in the murder of 36 defenseless women and men using weapons and vehicle supplied by the U.S. and operated by troops and train by the U.S. And the U.S. has done nothing about it.
    MEK never ever should be in FTO list in first place, now U.S. should seek removal of the MEK from U.S. FTO list immeditly, as EU and British did .

  5. #5 Golazin 28 Sep 11

    Its absolutely a necessity for the US and UN to intervene to prevent further loss of human lives.

  6. #6 Saeid 28 Sep 11

    The MEK based in Iran are simply Irans largest and best supported opposition group. They are an organisation which believes in democracy equal rights between men and women, religious freedom a modern free state.

    They should be whole heartedly supported instead America the British and the UN are standing by whilst the Iraqi givernment at the behest of the regime in Iran is murdering these people.

    It is a disgrace and should not be allowed they should act ASAP.

  7. #7 Al 29 Sep 11

    The psychological torture of the residents has to stop!
    The international community acted too little after the 1st bloodshed in 2009. This lack of attention made it possible to attack the residents again this year.
    The recognition of the residents as asylum seekers is a good and important step for a solution of the residents before another incident happens.

  8. #8 Sohrab Safavi 30 Sep 11

    As an ordinary Iranian student who also has family members in Camp Ashraf, I think it's despicable that US keeps the Iranian resistance on the FTO-list when everybody knows for a fact that the Iranian regimes and its henchmen's are the real terrorists. Shame on this neo-Conservative conspiracy that only perpetuates the imperialism of extremism and violence not only in Iran but throughout the middle east. Delist the MEK NOW and stop further Bloodshed. Mrs Hillary Clinton ...take action. Two massacres and psychological torture of Ashraf residents all due to your ’good-gesture’ to the Iranian regime will not be forgotten in the future!

  9. #9 mina 30 Sep 11

    save our heros in camp ashraf. they are our heroes and the victims of terrorism

  10. #11 Soroush 01 Oct 11

    Great article, thanks to newint.
    Camp Ashraf must be protected by the International community.
    Stop appeasement with the Iranian regime !

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