International monitors must be stationed at Camp Ashraf, rights group says

22 09 2009

Monday, 21 September 2009

 “In our visit to Ashraf we reached the conclusion that we must be in Ashraf as an international monitor especially in view of the fact that the Iranian regime is exerting constant pressure to expel Ashraf residents from Iraq.”

Mr. Antonio Stango of Helsinki Watch in Italy

NCRI – Speaking at a press conference organized by a number of prominent international human rights organizations on September 15 in Geneva, Mr. Antonio Stango of the human rights group Helsinki Watch in Italy said: The residents of Ashraf are members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). They are ready to dedicate their lives for Iran’s freedom, but as you know, they have given up their weapons and in accordance with international laws and conventions they require protection.

Stango, who in September 2008 visited Camp Ashraf located 60 miles north of Baghdad near the Iranian border, added: In our trip to Ashraf, we spoke with the residents and reached the conclusion that we must be in Ashraf as an international monitor especially in view of the fact that the Iranian regime is exerting constant pressure to expel Ashraf residents from Iraq. The Iranian regime wants to close down Ashraf because it views it as a bastion for Iran’s freedom.

He added that during the visit he witnessed democratic relationships in the city as well as extremely humanitarian and friendly relations between the camp residents and Iraqi people.

Stango stressed that the Iraqi government lacks the capability and competency to protect Ashraf residents, and said: During the unjustifiable and illegal attack against Ashraf, 11 people were murdered, hundreds were injured, and 36 were taken hostage. Taking hostage ‘protected persons’ under the Geneva Convention constitutes a crime against humanity. We, too, demand the immediate release of the 36 hostages. This issue is extremely urgent because they are on a hunger strike.

We ask the United Nations to set up permanent presence to monitor the situation in Ashraf. But, this should not be a passive monitoring role. We are of the view that bloodshed in Ashraf can be repeated unless the UN prevents it by establishing a presence and intervening on this issue.


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