Iranian exiles in Iraq under constant threat of repeated attacks and deportation

10 09 2009

Thursday, 10 September 2009

On July 28, Camp Ashraf was raided by Iraqi soldiers who ended up killing at least 11 people. Hundreds were seriously wounded and 36 men abducted. The last time Iraqi soldiers attacked Camp Ashraf outside Baghdad, 11 people ended up losing their lives. It can happen again. But what the residents are more afraid of is deportation to Iran. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Norwegian Parliament took the issue to the UN Secretary General when he was in Norway last week.

Source: The Norwegian daily Aftenposten, September 9, 2009
It has been eight months since the last time Hossein Khalkhali Shandiz heard from his father. Ali Khalkhali Shandiz, 67, has been surrounded along with 3,400 other residents at Camp Ashraf outside Baghdad by Iraqi forces. When they attacked the camp on July 28, 11 people died and hundreds were wounded.

The Norwegian-Iranian doctor who works at a hospital says, “I’m incredibly worried, but there is no way to get any news.”

A brother died under torture

Hossein came to Norway from Iran in 1990 along with his mother and four siblings. His older brother was 19 when he was killed under torture. His father went to Iraq to join the struggle against Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime.

During Saddam Hussein’s reign, Camp Ashraf became the base of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), a resistance organization which seeks to overthrow the Iranian regime. After the American invasion, they were granted protection under the Fourth Geneva Convention even though the US claims that they belong to a terrorist organization. These organized Iranian exiles say that they do not seek violence but instead pursue democracy. Through the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which has its headquarters in Paris, they are lobbying Western countries. Ali Khalkhali Shandiz has been a political activist since the 1960s and is a senior member of the resistance against the regime in Iran.

He used to be able to contact his family in Norway by phone and talk about his life and activities in Camp Ashraf. But after Iraqi officials took charge of the camp all contact with the outside world was cut off.

A cruel and vicious operation

On July 28, the camp was raided by Iraqi soldiers who ended up killing at least 11 people. Hundreds were seriously wounded and 36 men are still imprisoned. A court (in Iraq) has ruled for the release of these individuals but the police refuses to comply.

Hossein does not know anything about his father’s situation. He says, “I have tried to ask all those who might know something. But, no one can say if he has been injured or not. He is not among the dead, but there are no lists of names available for the wounded.”

According to Hossein, currently life in Ashraf is overshadowed by the constant fear of renewed attacks or forced expulsion to Iran, where they would face threats of long-term imprisonment or execution.

He says, “2,000 armed soldiers are standing right outside the gate. They are not regular soldiers. They are thugs who attack an innocent and defenseless population. They hit people with the intention of killing them, an exact mirror image of what happened during the uprisings in Tehran.”



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