Iranian-Americans Urge U.S. Government To Intervene In Security Of Troubled Refugee Camp

5 09 2009

Leah Valencia, University of New Mexico – Talk Radio News Service

The United States Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents called Thursday for the U.S. government to respond to the alleged mistreatment of Iranian political exiles in an Ashraf, Iraq based refugee camp by transferring control of the camp from Iraqi security forces.

“We have a contractual signed agreements with each of these refugees, we need to honor that,” U.S. Army Col. Gary Morsch M.D. during a press conference in Washington, D.C. with the Committee. “We have a responsibility and an opportunity to do something.”

The refugees of Camp Ashraf were recognized by the United States as “protected persons” during the Fourth Geneva Convention and were under U.S. military protection until January 2009 when the Iraqi government assumed responsibility for their safety. In July, 2009, a raid by Iraqi security forces wounded over 500 refugees with an additional 36 taken hostage. The hostages remain in critical condition and Iraqi forces are limiting medical resources, food and water supplies.

In response, many Iranian-Americans have begun a hunger strike to urge U.S. government officials to push for the immediate release of the 36 refugee hostages and have U.S. forces temporarily take over Camp Ashraf security until a United Nations monitoring post can be established. Hunger stiker Hamid Godarzi said they have been on strike for 37 days and will not quit until their demands are met.

“This is not simple for us to do. I am a senior research scientist in San Antonio, Texas and I left my ordinary life to be here,” Godarzi said. “It is our responsibility to give a voice to the residents of Ashraf.”

According to Godarzi, the White House has not issued a response to the hunger strikers.



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