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The Residents of Camp Ashraf attacked by Iraqi forces

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Camp Ashraf- 8 April 2011 - The Iraqi military units on direct orders from Al-Maliki attacked unarmed residents of Camp Ashraf this morning killing 31 people, including six women and injuring hundreds of others. The residents of the camp are protected by Geneva conventions and international laws. The camp is home to 3400 Iranian dissidents seeking establishment of a democratic government in Iran.

 
Iraqi Troops Attack Ashraf Camp by NCR Iran

The camp was protected by the American forces until 2009. The security was handed to the Iraqi forces in January 2010. Ever since, the Iraqis have imposed an embargo on the camp, preventing food and medical supplies to the camp, an attempt that was planned to please the ruling regime in Iran. The Iraqis have since tried to exert pressure on the residents to force them leave the camp or expel them to Iran where they will face death or imprisonment.

The pre-dawn attack came about as warnings were issued by the group when the Iraqi military began reinforcing its forces in Ashraf and deployed new forces inside the camp on Sunday, April 3 in violation of agreements with the residents.

Maryam Rajavi, the President elect of the National Council of Resistance called on the United Sates and the European Union in a statement to take immediate action to stop the invasion on the Camp residents. "The American government, the European Union and the United Nations were informed and knew very well since five days ago in details about military movements that were being conducted for aggression and massacre," she added. She asked the American hospital nearby to provide medical assistance to the wounded since there are no facilities inside Ashraf to attend the wounded due to medical blockade of the camp.

Many of the deaths resulted from gunshots. Others died as military vehicles overra n the crowd of residents who were protesting the presence of military units inside the camp. One resident stated, "These forces are claiming they have come to protect us but their guns are pointed at us. Today's attack clearly showed their real intention. We will protect every inch of our camp. This is our home."

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Today's attack on the camp residents strengthens the previous calls on the United States government and the United Nations to maintain a permanent presence in Camp Ashraf to overlook the activities of the Iraqis who have showed they are willing to resort to violence against the camp residents. The status of Protected Persons should be respected. The United States should live up to its commitment to the camp residents when they were granted the "Protected Persons" status.

The blockade of the camp since 2009 has caused the death of many residents who were prevented from receiving proper medical assistance. This blockade should end and the residents should be able to receive the needed medicine purchased by them. The Iraqi doctors should be able to enter the camp and provide medical assistance without fearing persecutions by the Iraqi government.

The United States should take a clear stance against today's attack by the Iraqi government. The U.S. has a moral and legal commitment towards the camp residents who surrendered their arms in 2003 to receive protection.

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Joseph Omidvar is a scholar in Middle Eastern studies specializing in Iran policies

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The Residents of Camp Ashraf attacked by Iraqi forces