End Iran exile demo – archbishop

21 09 2009
People on hunger strike

Hunger strikers want the US to intervene over Camp Ashraf

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged hunger strikers demonstrating against the treatment of 3,000 Iranian refugees in an Iraqi camp to end their protest.

Hunger strikers outside the US embassy in London are demanding the US takes responsibility for Camp Ashraf.

Residents of the camp say an Iraqi raid there in July left several people dead.

Dr Rowan Williams says the situation at the camp is a humanitarian issue “of real magnitude and urgency”, but adds there should be no more loss of life.

The protesters want the US government to take responsibility for Camp Ashraf, which houses more than 3,000 members of the exiled Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahadeen of Iran (PMOI).

Iraqi forces took over the camp’s security from the US earlier this year, and the Iraqi government has repeatedly vowed to close it.

Dr Williams met a group of campaigners this week, telling them: “I am in contact with our own government as well as representatives of other governments to urge that the current situation be remedied urgently.”

He said there was a strong argument under international law that Camp Ashraf’s residents were “protected persons”, and that the US and Iraqi governments had an obligation to defend them from violence or abuse.

But he urged the hunger strikers to bring their fast to an end.

“Further loss of life would only compound recent tragic events.



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