Golders Green family join Iranian hunger strike

29 09 2009

By Rebecca Lowe

1:19pm Monday 28th September 2009

A FAMILY from Golders Green have joined an Iranian hunger strike to protest the treatment of refugees in an Iraqi camp.

Esmast Zabeti, 47, her daughter Azadeh Zabeti, 28, and her son, Mousa Zabeti, 24, joined the growing group of fasters outside the US Embassy, in Grosvenor Square, last Friday.

There are now 18 Anglo-Iranians refusing food in a bid to convince US and UN forces to protect their friends and family in Camp Ashraf.

Twelve have been fasting for 63 days and risk permanent organ failure.

Three hunger strikers were released from hospital last week after refusing to eat, and one – 54-year-old Yaqub Doughforosh Banan, from Hendon – has lost his sight.

Layla Jaleyzehi, spokeswoman for the group, said: “They are getting really bad. From time to time we need to shake them just to check they are still alive. They are barely conscious most of the time.

“It is completely shameful that the national media is staying silent. We are not asking for much.”

Camp Ashraf is home to around 3,500 supporters of the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI), who have lived there since the 1980s in fear of repression if they return to Iran.

In July, Iraqi forces stormed the camp, bulldozing homes and leaving at least 12 people dead, according to the PMOI.

The hungers strikers claim the raid was an attempt to forcibly repatriate the Ashraf inmates. But the Iraqi Government says the aim of the raid was to establish a police station inside the camp and denied violence was used.

The protesters are demanding the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from the camp and the release of the 36 inmates who they claim are being held hostage. They want US forces to take over until an international UN force can be mobilised.

Last week, the Bishop of London came out in support of the hunger strikers, calling on the United Nations to send in forces to oversee conditions in the camp.

This followed a call from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rown Williams, last Sunday for the international community to take action to protect the 3,500 refugees in the camp.


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