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Report from Camp Ashraf – March 2011

Why are the human rights abuses taking place inside Mojahedin Khalq (Rajavi cult) Camp Ashraf not being investigated?

Since February 2010, the families of Mojahedin-e Khalq members inside Camp Ashraf have been encamped at the front gate of the camp demanding to have news and visits with their long-lost relatives. From elderly parents to the children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers of MEK members, all are seeking information about their relatives. They call out from the front of the camp hoping their voices will be heard by the people inside. They stand on dirt embankments around the perimeter of the camp to call out to their relatives.

The Mojahedin response has been sadly predictable and in line with the cult nature of the group. From the outset they have refused all contact between the members in the camp with the outside world, not only with the families but also human rights agencies and other independent observers.

As the MEK leaders withdrew the rank and file into the centre of the camp so they would not be within sight or sound of the families, the families used loudspeakers to try to project their voices to reach their relatives.

They played music and even the sound of children’s laughter to penetrate the stultifying atmosphere inside Camp Ashraf. In response, the MEK brought its own loudspeakers to prevent the families’ voices reaching the inner parts of the camp. After a while excruciating parasite noise began to be broadcast from American supplied equipment, harmful to all who are exposed to it.

The families have no choice but to sit it out and wait and hope. Where at first the MEK were sent to the gate to shout insults and reject the families, they are no longer brought in view of the outside world. The MEK now are made to shout  ‘Death to the Dictator’ from inside the depths of the camp and their voices projected by loudspeaker to the outside of the camp where the families wait and weep for their lost ones.

One young woman in a white ‘Chanel’ headscarf weeps for her lost father. He has been, she explains, in Camp Ashraf for23 years. He was captured as a POW in Iraq 25 years ago and after two years was among those transferred to the MEK camp where he has been ever since. She hasn’t seen him for 25 years. She wants him to come home with her, and, she says, she will not leave until she can take him out of the camp.

Still the families wait and call out to their long-lost relatives in the hope of reaching them. Although the gates of Camp Ashraf are now open, there is still no access to the people held hostage inside. The MEK have simply withdrawn into a smaller circle, surrounding themselves with barbed wire, embankments and barriers. They have stationed trucks to hide their broadcasting equipment, and covered others with sacking to pretend they do not exist. But worst of all is that now, Massoud Rajavi’s special suppressive forces are patrolling the perimeter of the camp and aggressively engaging with and attacking the families, swearing at them, throwing stones and even catapulting metal missiles at the defenceless families. Several of them have been hit and hurt by these missiles.

The MEK’s backers in Europe and North America continue to raise false alarms and problems concerning the camp and to introduce false information in their various parliaments. In response, government officials have continued to put the record straight. The MEK are not protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The UNHCR has not granted them refugee status in Iraq. The camp continues to be monitored weekly by UNAMI with a separate American presence.

The Iraqi authorities are ensuring that the camp is safe and secure and that the MEK inside receive regular supplies of food, medicine and other essentials, while preventing non-essentials such as barbed wire and weapons being imported into the camp.

But what no one can explain, whether MEK backers or government officials, is why these families are not being helped and why the MEK continue to be allowed to hold 3500 people hostage inside the camp with no recourse to help or rescue. Why are the human rights abuses taking place inside Camp Ashraf not being investigated?

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