Camp Ashraf: Hunger strikers demand withdrawal of Iraqi forces

25 08 2009

NCRI – Two Camp Ashraf residents who are on a hunger strike told the Voice of America TV Farsi broadcast that they are demanding the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Ashraf and the freeing of 36 hostages held by the Iranian regime’s mercenaries in Iraq. An excerpt of the interview with VOA is as follows:

Host: A hunger strike launched by a group of residents at Camp Ashraf has entered its fourth week. The hunger strike is in protest to the attack of Iraqi police forces against Camp Ashraf in Baghdad on July 28. According to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the attack left 11 dead, hundreds wounded and 36 detained. On the basis of an agreement signed between the American and Iraqi governments in late 2008, the Iraqi government gave assurances that it will comply with the human rights of Ashraf residents and will refrain from sending them back to Iran. In reaction to the recent events at the camp, the US government has asked for calm on both sides. Parvaneh Yazdian, who says she is one of the victims of torture in Iranian prisons and is also among the hunger strikers, and Fatollah Heydari in Camp Ashraf talked about their demands in an interview with VOA.

Parvaneh Yazdian: I am one of the hunger strikers in Ashraf in the 55 degree Celsius heat. I was beaten by batons in the course of the attack and since I am also a former prisoner in the Khomeini regime’s torture chambers, I could not help but be reminded of the six years I endured the worst kinds of torture. Today is the 21st day of the strike and its effects are becoming more visible. Many people have chronic respiratory problems. They have muscle aches, shortness of breath, and weakened eye sight. Despite all this, however, we will not end this strike until the fulfillment of our demands.

Question: What are your demands?

Parvaneh Yazdian: Our first demand is for the Iraqi forces to leave Ashraf because the continuation of their presence here can only lead to a human catastrophe and more killings. They have personally threatened us. We are also asking for the immediate release of 36 hostages who have been unjustly detained by Iraqi forces without committing any crimes. Moreover, the US government must accept the responsibility to protect Ashraf residents on the basis of Article 45 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Each one of us in Ashraf signed an agreement with the Americans and were also interviewed multiple times. We have not committed any crimes. They must accept responsibility to protect us until the determination of our final status or at least until such time that an international force under UN leadership is stationed here. The American government has a responsibility for our protection until such time.

Question: Mr. Heydari, your brother has been arrested. What is his situation?

Heydari: 36 of Camp residents were beaten and forcibly taken hostage. They are now at a police station in al-Khalis city. My brother, Rahman Heydari, is among them and he is not doing well.

Amnesty International has called for their immediate release. My brother was a former political prisoner for six years because he did not accept absolute clerical rule in Iran. Currently, because of the suppression that has taken place and in protest to the hostage taking, the hostages have all launched a hunger strike.

Many of them are in critical condition. Mehran Balai has had three surgeries on him. Habib Ghorab is suffering from chronic stomach problems. My own brother is also suffering from severe stomach and kidney problems and has been transferred to a hospital. Despite that they are still on a hunger strike. In protest to such (a situation) we are also on a hunger strike to support the 36 people. And finally, I wanted to tell you that Ali-Asghar Yaghoubpour who was shot and struck in the head died due to brain injuries.



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