Captives of Maryam Rajavi’s Mojahedin Khalq in Iraq
Are Human Rights Victims Says Iran-Interlink;
Press Conference in Paris Sept. 22
9/20/2006 10:00:00 AM
To: International and Assignment desks
Contact: Anne Singleton of Iran Interlink, +44 113 278 0503 or email email@example.com
PARIS, Sept. 19 /U.S. Newswire/ — Following is a statement of Iran Interlink on captives in Iraq:
For three years U.S. forces have protected a terrorist group in Iraq even though most of them want to return home to their families.
Mojahedin Khalq combatants are being held against their will in Camp Ashraf say former members who have returned home in the past two years.
Now, a seven member delegation from the Iranian NGO, Nejat Association, has arrived in Paris to alert public opinion to the situation of 3,000 men and women held against their will in an Iraqi base of the Iranian Mojahedin Khalq under the leadership of Maryam Rajavi.
U.S. forces say they cannot intervene inside the camp, leaving residents unable to access humanitarian help from the ICRC and the UNHCR.
Several cases of retention by force have been confirmed by personal testimony from former captives in the MKO camp who say that basic human rights are being violated daily. Significant among these cases are Iranian prisoners of war (POWs) captured by the Iraqi forces during the eight year Iran-Iraq war and who were then delivered by Saddam Hussein to the Mojahedin to boost numbers.
Nejat Association comprises former members and families of the Camp Ashraf captives. They demand the immediate and full implementation of UN Protected Persons status so that they can have free and unfettered contact with their relatives inside the camp.
Arash Sametipour, a former combatant of the MKO who spent several years in Evin prison says: "We know that the majority of people trapped inside Camp Ashraf would like to leave. We hear this from those who have recently escaped the group. What we are asking is for the international community to implement all the conditions of the Fourth Geneva Convention so that the residents of Camp Ashraf can get help from their families."
Nejat Association says this is a grave humanitarian crisis and that Camp Ashraf residents should not be used as pawns in political wrangles between western governments and Iran.
The Iraqi government has announced that Camp Ashraf must be dismantled and the residents removed from Iraqi territory. Responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of these individuals now rests with western governments and international humanitarian agencies.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A press conference will be held in Paris on Friday, Sept. 22, at 10 a.m.