Italian Radio reports on situation in Camp Ashraf

8 09 2009

Source: Italian  Radio, September 3
Program moderator: Aldo Forbice the distinguished Italian journalist and human rights activist
We just have made a live connection with Camp Ashraf in Iraq.  First, I would like to give our listeners a short background about the camp and then we will have a live interview with one of the residents of the camp.  There are some 3500 inhabitants in this camp. They have been living there in exile for many years.

They are all members of the main Iranian opposition group.  Since the occupation of Iraq by the American and British forces, these people who are members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) have given up their arms and no longer are engaged in any armed activities. In return the occupying forces provided protection and security for the camp residents.

Lately, there has been armed attacks against the camp by the Iraqi forces which are literally under Iranian influence.  Iraqis are trying to force the residents of the camp out of Iraq into Iran or some other foreign country.  If they are returned to Iran, for sure they will be tortured and executed.  This now has become an international matter involving the United Nations, the European community as well as the western countries. For now no solution has been found. In the latest attack by Iraqi forces on the camp many people were wounded. Mr. Ahmad Foruqi who is a resident of the camp tells us what happened in there.

Question: Mr. Frouqi, could you tell us what is the situation in Camp Ashraf now?

Answer: …We have been surrounded by the Iraqi forces and they do not allow any reporters or human rights organizations to enter the camp.

Host: I was talking about the 3500 Iranian men and women who are members of the Iranian Resistance.  What is the actual number?

Ahmad Foruqi: We are about 3400 here.

Question: Recently, the Iraqi military forces were engaged in military operation against you.  How many people from the camp were wounded?

Ahmad Foruqi: In the attack, which I rather call it a massacre, took place on July 28th, 500 people were seriously injured.  One of the injured is in a very critical condition. 11 more were killed and 36 people were taken hostage.  As a protest to this savage attack, the people here have gone on hunger strike since the attack.

Question: Mr. Foruqi, when the attack took place, wasn’t the camp under American forces protection?

Ahmad Foruqi: Unfortunately the only American forces involvement was to take photos and videos of this savage attack by the forces loyal to Khamenei, for their files.  They just stood by and did nothing!

Question: Are you telling us that they did nothing to prevent this disaster?

Ahmad Foruqi: No, they did not do anything.  Every one of us in the camp had signed an agreement with the American forces in 2003.  According to this agreement, they were responsible for our safety and security.  However, they did not do anything when we were attacked.

Question: Are the wounded people staying in the camp or they are being taken to Iraqi hospitals?

Ahmad Foruqi: No one is in an Iraqi hospital.  Over 90 percent of the wounded people are in the hospital located inside the camp. The hospital in the camp is very small and has a limited number of doctors and nurses with limited medical equipment.  We are facing severe shortages in this regard.

Question: Have you sought any help from the International Red Cross?

Ahmad Foruqi: As I mentioned earlier, the Iraqi government on Iranian dictator’s request, Ali Khameni, has forbidden any international human rights organization to visit the camp.  They do not even allow the reporters to enter the camp.  This is an indication that this government is planning for another round of massacre.

Question: So you mean that the current Iraqi government is carrying out the plans formulated by Tehran?

Ahmad Foruqi: The residents of the camp do not have any weapons to defend themselves. Actually as the recent Iranian TV report in February had mentioned, the governments of Iraq and Iran have signed an agreement to put pressure on the residents of the camp since Camp Ashraf is the most serious obstacle for the expansion of Islamic fundamentalism by the Iranian regime.

Question: In the past there have been negotiations on the relocation of the residents of the camp to European countries and sending some of them to Iran provided that their well being would be guaranteed.  I am aware of such negotiations.  Do you have anything to tell us about this?

Ahmad Foruqi: As I said before, currently the Iraqis are holding 36 of our friends as hostages. Despite the fact that the court in Khalis city as well as an independent judge has ordered the release of these people as they had been found innocent, unfortunately Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minster, at the behest of the Iranian regime has interfered in the judicial system and has prevented their release.  The 36 hostages have been on hunger strike for the past 37 days and some of them are in critical conditions.

Questions: So as you mentioned there is a need for an international intervention.  I mean perhaps the United Nations and the EU have to get involved to solve this problem.  This is a humanitarian issue as the lives of some 3500 people are at stake and there is a chance that these people would die in Iraq and no one would interfere.  This is really an unacceptable situation.  Lives of 3500 people are in danger and no one says or does anything and no newspaper is reporting on this.  Is this right?

Ahmad Foruqi: Yes.  It is exactly as you mentioned.  We are in a very grave situation now and have called for immediate action to save the lives of these people.  Otherwise we will witness a human tragedy very soon. One of the hostages has lost his vision due to hunger strike. Two others are in critical conditions.  In fact I would like to take this opportunity and call on all human rights organizations and the UN to urgently intervene. I personally wrote a letter to the Italian ambassador in Baghdad and requested that a delegation to be sent to the camp as soon as possible as I am certain that if the democratic countries like Italy do not condemn these crimes, the Iraqis will commit even more savage crimes.  If we stay silent about these crimes, a government such as al-Maliki’s will continue these criminal actions.

Host: Unfortunately, many times the governments and countries keep silent on these matters.  Mr. Foruqi, I thank you for participating in this program and providing us with these very interesting facts.  We will not keep silent and will talk to you soon.  Please keep on doing what you have been doing.  Write letters to the embassies and parliaments in EU, to the Italian, French, British and all the western governments, especially to the American government and ask them to intervene.  We have to take this matter to the people around the world as saving the lives of the 3500 men and women in camp Ashraf needs involvement from the governments and the international organizations.

Italian Radio reports on situation in Camp Ashraf

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