New Internationalist

Camp Ashraf under fire

As a young Iranian who has eight members of his family resident in Camp Ashraf, Iraq, I woke last Thursday morning to news of an attack on the Camp which houses over 3,400 members of the Iranian resistance, an attack which has led to the death of 34 civilians and the wounding of 350 with a further six having been taken hostage.

Minutes seemed like hours and hours like days watching footage of what I can only describe as a massacre. Unarmed civilians were being mowed down by armoured vehicles and Humvees as forces took aim and shot residents in the heart, head and neck, ensuring that each shot either led to death or serious wounding. This is a crime against humanity for which Nouri Al-Maliki must be brought before international criminal courts.

As Reporters Without Borders said in a statement, ‘The security forces are denying journalists access to the camp to hide abuses committed against civilians. Anyone trying to take photographs of the clashes is being attacked in a systematic and targeted fashion.’

However, put simply, the story of Camp Ashraf is not one of one man’s family, but that of an entire nation’s hope for change, democratic change in Iran, where people can enjoy the freedoms that I have enjoyed in my life in the UK. From a personal point of view it is the reaction of the US and UK which has disappointed me more than anything else. I expect nothing from an Iraqi leadership led by Nouri Al-Maliki, whose allegiances lie with the Iranian regime and not with his own people.

When the US-led coalition entered Iraq in 2003 I believed the future of my family and all residents was safe. Years passed and the residents were granted ‘protected persons’ status under the Fourth Geneva Convention and each and every resident was provided with a personal guarantee by the US authorities that their rights would be protected in Iraq. Shamefully, I now know that hours before last week’s attack took place US forces that were stationed inside Camp Ashraf were ordered to leave and do nothing to prevent the pending massacre of unarmed civilians.

I ask the British and US authorities a simple question: is this the Iraq for which so many of our young men and women sacrificed their lives? The entire British and US population should be appalled at the crisis now developing at Camp Ashraf. Men and women who have dedicated their lives to bringing democracy to Iran are being handed over like lambs to the slaughter to butchers in Iraq.

I personally hold the British and US governments responsible for these deaths and unless they act immediately, more innocent blood will be shed. The US are there on the ground and they must as a matter of urgency immediately take all the wounded to the US military hospital for treatment. The legal duty to protect the Camp clearly falls upon the US, who remain on the ground in Iraq; the UN, who have a presence there; and the British as a member of the US-led coalition which entered Iraq. The US and UN must immediately demand the removal of Iraqi forces from the Camp and the release of the six hostages, and further take action to reassume control over the safety and security of the Camp.

Act now and the lives of my family members may be saved, but for as long as Iraqi forces remain inside the Camp and in control of the safety and security of it I shall continue to wake every morning fearing that my family may be the next victims of Nouri Al-Maliki’s murderous regime.

Click here for more on the background to Camp Ashraf.

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  1. #1 Hamid 12 Apr 11

    Camp Ashraf massacre

    I agree that the massacre at Camp Ashraf was absolutely shocking and appalling and must be condemned by any decent human being.

  2. #2 nasrin 13 Apr 11

    I also think the attack against the inhabitant of camp Ashraf is despicable.

    But we have to also understand that what the writer calls “members of the Iranian resistance” are a violent terrorist group in the same league and perhaps worst than those groups as the real IRA

    They go under various names:

    but to know more perhaps its good to read this Human Rights Watch report about them

  3. #3 Laila 14 Apr 11

    I like to than the writer of this article and ask the editor to please follow the humanitarian tragedy in Camp Ashraf and continue writing about it.
    The black silence of the media on the atrocities committed in Camp Ashraf is indeed shocking.
    There was absolutely no mention of the news in the BBC various TV news or any of its BBC radio programmes, ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5. The news editors and producers stayed silent.
    I really believed the illegal attack on unarmed civilians which has so far resulted in 34 dead including 8 women would be covered extensively by the BBC, ITV and the others.
    As a British citizen, I am shocked, appalled shameful of the way the media works in this country. I just do not know why they cover atrocities everywhere in the world but when it comes to Iranian Opposition and Camp Ashraf people, they are totally silent. It is disgraceful.
    Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders have each issued two strong statements so far regarding this brutal attack.
    The second statement by Reporters without Borders states that two young women killed by the suppressive Iraqi army were journalists for Iran NTV - an Iranian satellite TV that belongs to the Resistance. Their crime was to expose the massacre of these unarmed ’Protected People’.
    The suppressive Iraqi Army targeted those who were taking films and photographs at the scene. Below, you can see one of them; Asieh Rakhshani is following the events by taking films but is suddenly shot and died on the scene.

    And here is the last moment of Asieh's mother and father saying goodbye to their daughter:

  4. #4 Qader 14 Apr 11

    Peace for Camp Ashraf

    It's about time that the world woke up and realised that a massacre awaits Camp Ashraf residents if action is not taken to stop that dictator Maliki from having his way. I have read some disinformation about the PMOI spread by the mullahs in Iran. But all the misinformation was rejected by the UK and EU courts. So now it is up to the democratic world to finally take action to stop a massace at Ashraf.

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