solidarity for camp ashraf in berlin

30 08 2009
niqash | Henrik Ahrens | thu 27 aug 09
For 21 days supporters of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) in Germany have been on hunger strike in solidarity with PMOI members detained in Iraq since the Iraqi forces raid on Camp Ashraf on 28th July 2009.

The demonstrators positioned in front of the German Foreign Office in Berlin have called for the German government to demand that the Iraqi Government release imprisoned PMOI members and allow independent observers to visit Camp Ashraf.

The incursion of the Ashraf Camp in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad left ten PMOI members dead and many wounded. Iraqi government spokesman said that 3 Iraqi police were also killed in the raid and 10 wounded.

Camp Ashraf is home to about 3,500 People’s Mujahedeen members and their families. The group, an Islamic Socialist Movement, was founded in 1965 in opposition to the Shah of Iran. It now advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. During the Iran-Iraq war Saddam Hussein allowed the PMOI to set up base in the country.

The point of contention now is the legality of the invasion of Ashraf Camp. PMOI’s spokesman, Muhammad Iqbal told Niqash that they had made an agreement with the US forces in 2004 that in exchange for the PMOI disarming, the US would protect the camp members and not hand control over to the Iraqi Government. But

Adnan al-Asadi, Secretary General of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, said that the Iraqi troops took over the camp according to the pact signed with the US in November 2008 and added that:

“this is part of the Government’s right to impose the rule of law over the entire Iraqi land. Thus the Government is not obliged to implement any agreement reached between US troops and the opposition PMOI.”

Back in Berlin, most of the demonstrators camped outside the Foreign Ministry have family based in Ashraf Camp.

Aida Farssyabi is 26 years old and arrived in Germany at the age of eight with her mother. She was born in the notorious Evin political prison in Tehran and spent the first two years of her life in the prison until her mother, Zahra Darabi, was so tortured that she was sent to a hospital from where she managed to escape. Her father was executed when Aida was seven years old. Aida’s mother decided not to stay in Germany, but to return to Iraq and join the PMOI. Aida has not spoken to her mother in five weeks and is growing very worried about her. Recently she applied for an Iraqi visa to go and search for her, but her application was rejected by Iraqi authorities. Now, all she can do is to join the protests outside the German Foreign Ministry in a bid to push the German government to act on the matter.

Aida told Niqash: “I’m a German citizen. I grew up in Germany. I’m paying taxes to the German state. I don’t understand why the German government doesn’t do anything. I don’t understand why even journalists and NGOs are not allowed to enter Camp Ashraf,”

But the protest is not only supported by those with family members in Camp Ashraf. Mehran Ghadrkhah is an Iranian who has lived in Germany for 25 years and calls himself a PMOI-sympathizer. He feels the attack on Camp Ashraf is an attack on the freedom of every single Iranian and chants with the other demonstrators:

“Security for Ashraf, now, now, now! Down with the dictatorship! German government: Break the silence!”

Many of those demonstrating in Berlin feel a solidarity with the Iranians demonstrating about recent alleged election irregularities in Tehran and it’s no mistake that both groups hold pictures of Hanif Emami and Neda Soltani in solidarity; martyrdom in Tehran and Camp Ashraf.

Niqash contacted the German Foreign Office for a response and they replied with a statement saying:

“The Human Rights Commissioner of the Federal Foreign Office Guenther Nooke has expressed his concern about the situation at Camp Ashraf. We are following closely further developments on the ground, especially the humanitarian and the human rights situation. In doing so, in consultation with our European partners we have taken up the argument with the government of Iraq”.

How this concern and consultation will materialize will become apparent in the coming weeks.


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