Diyala – Thousands of Iraqis gathered in front of Camp Ahsraf, where almost 3,500 Iranian dissidents of the Mojahedine Khalqe Iran Organization reside, in order to renew a demand for closing down the Camp.
Camp Ashraf is situated northeast of the Iraqi town of Khalis, about 120 kilometers west of the Iranian border and 60 kilometers north of Baghdad.
MEK came to Iraq in 1986 and are regarded by coalition forces as a protected people under the Geneva Convention.
Iraqis remember MEK for their cooperation with Iraqi Baath regime and quenching Shiite and Kurdish uprising in Iraq.
The Iraqi government has repeatedly voiced its intensions to terminate the residency of the MEK in Iraq by the end of this year.
The protest rally today was arranged by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and the organizations and parties opposition the Camp residents. Children, political leaders as well as chieftains from different parts of Iraq were among the protesters.
ISCI chief in Jadida Shat in Diyala, Qasem Awdat al-Maamuri, told AKnews the gathering is to readdress the demand for expelling the Camp residents out of Iraq before Iraqi officials as well as the international community.
He added the protesters demand the government "restore the land that the Iranian dissidents have occupied for more than two decades under a rule by the former Iraqi regime."
He added this year alone 20 protest rallies were held for terminating the Camp residency.
Mr. Maamuri urged the federal government to "take swift and serious decision" to expel MEK members whom he described "terrorists".
"They should be banned in Iraq, considering that they impose a threat on the security in Diyala, the whole country and the neighbors," he said.
The security forces imposed strict measures to avoid any violence or disputes between the protesters and the Camp residents.
Elements of the dissident organization used loudspeakers to call on the crowd to disperse and keep away from the Camp.
Though some have proposed for the Camp residents to relocate to other provinces of Iraq, the idea has received strong oppositions from many parties. Only one choice seems to have been left for MEK members: relocation to a third country. But so far no country has expressed willingness to grant refuge to the Camp residents.
MEK was founded in Iran in 1965 and cooperated with the rest of the opposition parties in toppling down Mohammed Reza Shah’s regime in 1979.
Disputes with the Islamic Republic led MEK relocate to Iraq and Europe.
By Mahmoud al-Jobour