After ten days of a stand-off, a small group of Iranian families have staged a sit-in outside the
|After ten days of a stand-off, a small group of Iranian families have staged a sit-in outside the gates of Camp Ashraf in Diyala province in Iraq|
gates of Camp Ashraf in Diyala province in Iraq. The families’ simple, straightforward and only demand is that they be able to meet with their relatives who are trapped inside the camp. Camp Ashraf still houses around 3500 members of the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq organisation which the Government of Iraq plans to remove from the country. From the start, Iraqi security forces who guard Camp Ashraf would not allow the families to enter the camp because they could not guarantee their safety. Instead, the Iraqis told the MKO to release the handful of individuals concerned to meet with their families before returning to the camp.
So far the Mojahedin leaders are not cooperating. The MKO’s immediate reaction to the family visits was to state that “agents of the clerical regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security are being dispatched to Camp Ashraf under the cover of family members of Ashraf residents, the Iraqi committee responsible for suppression of the residents, under the instructions of Nouri al-Maliki, has intensified cruel and inhumane siege on Ashraf”.
|A quote from Massoud Rajavi stated that members were not allowed to visit with their families even if an MKO minder was present.|
The MKO’s advocates in Britain and America also joined the fray and demanded of their respective governments to intervene to stop the Iraqis harassing them and to ‘protect the human rights of Camp Ashraf’s residents’. But, in all these cries for help, no mention was made that it was the MKO leaders who were not allowing the members to leave the camp and visit with their families outside the camp.
Although responsibility for Camp Ashraf was transferred to the Government of Iraq on January 1 2009, America still maintains a unit of 25 soldiers inside the camp to protect the MKO – which is on the US terrorism list. However, in this latest episode of family visits, the Americans refused to challenge Iraqi jurisdiction. Iraqi soldiers have not allowed the families to go inside the camp, but nor have they attempted to prevent their sit-in.
Finally, two days ago on the 19th February, the MKO admitted in their website Iran Efshaa’gar that
|“up until now we didn’t want to make a fuss. We believed that if we avoided any publicity or confrontation, the MKO would co-operate out of humanity. Now we have stayed a week and they don’t let us visit so we will sit here until we find out what happened to our children. We demand that Iraqis do something to help us.” |
the families and not ‘agents of the Iranian regime’ were the real problem and that the MKO itself was refusing to let the members have contact with their families.
A quote from Massoud Rajavi stated that members were not allowed to visit with their families even if an MKO minder was present. This is a new development. In previous attempts to have family visits, the MKO would not allow members out because of the fear they would run away. Now, the leaders have ruled that families are not even allowed to come inside the camp under supervision.
One of the relatives waiting outside Camp Ashraf told Iran-Interlink’s representative in Baghdad, “up until now we didn’t want to make a fuss. We believed that if we avoided any publicity or confrontation, the MKO would co-operate out of humanity. Now we have stayed a week and they don’t let us visit so we will sit here until we find out what happened to our children. We demand that Iraqis do something to help us.”
The simple demand of these families is to know if their relatives inside Camp Ashraf are alive or dead, healthy or ill; in what state are they living if they are not allowed to visit their mothers or fathers.
Ultimately, the MKO leaders have no legal jurisdiction over Camp Ashraf or its residents. It is the Americans who still have 25 soldiers inside camp to protect them and the Government of Iraqi who are responsible to answer these families concerns. The families have begun meeting with human rights groups and journalists to explain their dilemma. With all the problems which Iraq faces, it is hoped that the Government will be able quickly to resolve this minor situation to the satisfaction of all the responsible parties.