{mosimage}BPCIF: The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom condemns in the strongest manner the unlawful attack on Camp Ashraf and its residents by the Iraqi police force on Tuesday.

{mosimage}The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom condemns in the strongest manner the unlawful attack on Camp Ashraf and its residents by the Iraqi police force on Tuesday.

This violent and unlawful act against unarmed members of the main Iranian opposition group PMOI has been directed by the Iranian regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei. The Iraqi attack on Ashraf, which is in breach of international law, violates the written assurances by the government of Iraq to the US administration that Baghdad would treat the residents of Ashraf humanely and consistent with international law.

This afternoon, armed Iraqi police broke into Ashraf, demolishing buildings on the way and beating hundreds of PMOI members with batons and metal bars. The Iraqi forces also used sound grenades and fired tear gas and pepper spray at the residents who were protesting the forced entry. More than 100 PMOI members have been wounded and some are close to death. One has since gone into a coma. Others were beaten to the point where they became unconscious and were subsequently handcuffed by the Iraqi police and taken away. Thus far the PMOI members have resisted peacefully and have been chanting slogans against Khamenei who has ordered the attack. The Iraqi police have used bulldozers and loaders to demolish buildings and walls. They have also brought trucks, fire engines and ambulances to further advance in their unlawful raid.

On behalf of a majority of MPs and over 200 Members of the House of Lord, the Committee condemns in the strongest manner the unlawful Iraqi attack on the PMOI members in Ashraf.

Previously Iraq had prevented trucks carrying food from reaching the residents of the camp.

Today’s action is in breach of international law and comes against a background of Baghdad recently claiming that Ashraf residents have no legal status despite having lived in Iraq lawfully for the past 23 years and having been recognized by the US as "Protected Persons" under the 4th Geneva Convention.

This goes against the European Parliament's 24 April 2009 resolution on the humanitarian situation in Ashraf which urged Baghdad to make clear it would not expel or displace the residents, and would instead end its siege of the camp and recognise the residents' status as "Protected Persons" under the 4th Geneva Convention. Some 5.2 million Iraqis and 3 million Iraqi Shiites have also voiced support for the PMOI's presence in Iraq. Iraq's Sunni Vice-President Dr. Tariq al-Hashemi on 6 April said the PMOI's presence fell within the articles of international law.

Since Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei asked Iraq to expel Ashraf residents in February, Iraqi forces have tightened the siege around Ashraf. Tehran has stepped up pressure on Baghdad to further crack down on the PMOI as events have unfolded in Iran's streets with the current nationwide protests that are in progress.

The committee calls on the US government to urgently intervene to compel the Iraqis to move out of Ashraf. Washington both has a moral and legal obligation under international law and the "Responsibility to Protect (RtoP)" mandate to guarantee the safety and security of the residents of the camp, not least since it signed individual agreements with each and every Ashraf resident guaranteeing that it would protect them in return for their disarmament.

British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
28 July 2009


Note to editors:
The all-party British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, comprised of 120 MPs and Peers in the House of Lords, is chaired by Labour peer Lord Corbett of Castle Vale. It has the backing of a majority of MPs and over 200 Peers.

Its members include: former Home Secretary Rt. Hon. Lord Waddington QC, former Solicitor-General Rt. Hon. Lord Archer of Sandwell QC, Liberal Democrat Party deputy leader Lord Dholakia, Brian Binley MP, and Andrew Mackinlay MP of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee.