Hunger strikers in plea for refugees

21 09 2009

IRANIAN hunger strikers based outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square took their protest against the treatment of fellow exiles to the heart of government.

A small group from the dissident People’s Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) held a noisy demonstration out-side the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Westminster last Thursday.

The group – which has been keeping vigil outside the embassy for several weeks – urged the British Government to lobby on behalf of 3,500 of its members living in an enclave in Iraq.

They are concerned that Iraqi government forces raided the camp at the end of July, months after US troops handed over control of the safe haven.

Eleven people are reported to have been killed and hundreds injured in the raid. The PMOI claims another 36 have been arrested on trumped-up charges of terrorism.

Representatives of the group handed a petition to Downing Street, calling on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to flex his diplomatic muscle to protect the political exiles in Camp Ashraf, near Baghdad.

The PMOI says its members face execution or imprisonment if they return to Iran.

Hunger striker Reza Hosseini, who has survived on water and tea for 40 days, said he will not eat until the future of Camp Ashraf is secured.

“My daughter, two sisters and three cousins are there,” he said. “I haven’t heard from them since the raid on July 28.

“I am weak, I cannot walk and my eyesight is bad, but I will carry on the protest until the end if necessary.”

Fellow hunger striker Zohreh Moalemi, said: “The British Government has a duty to protect people under the Geneva Convention. If they abandon us to the Iraqis, there will be more bloodshed.”

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth office said: “We are aware of the reports of casualties on July 28 and have written to the Iraqi Government for a review of the events of that day,” he said.


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