Barnet and Whetstone PRESS


By Daniel O’Brien- Thursday, 24 July 2014

HUMAN rights lawyers, parliamentary peers and MPs came together last week to show support for Iranian refugees in Iraq and call for an end to the country’s current regime.

Hendon MP Matthew Offord and members of the North Finchley-based Anglo Iranian Young Artists’ Group were among the delegates at an emergency conference on the plight of residents of Camp Liberty in Baghdad.

The camp houses members of the exiled Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, calling for regime change in the country. 

Since moving to Camp Liberty in 2012 from their previous home of Camp Ashraf, the exiles say they have been deprived of basic humanitarian needs, while the Iraqi government has failed to protect the camp from several rocket attacks.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Brian Cotter claimed that the Iraqi government had allowed attacks to be carried out on the dissidents, part of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, at Tehran’s behest. He told the conference held in the House of Commons: “During the last two years I and my colleagues on the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom have said (Iraqi Prime Minister) Nouri al-Maliki acts at the behest of the Iranian regime.”

Labour peer Lord Clarke of Hampstead said Camp Liberty “should be called a concentration camp where the people are punished and given terrible conditions day after day.”

He said that since taking over from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani had failed to live up to his reputation in the West as a moderate or reformer.

Lord Clarke added: “The brutality of the regime continues and gets worse. Their own media outlets claim they have executed more than 800 people since Hassan Rouhani came to power.”

Mr Offord said he believed Mr Rouhani was incapable of changing the country and called on NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi to be placed in power.

“I was astonished when I heard Madame Rajavi’s ten-point plan. She has a vision and a plan for a future democratic Iran,” he said.

Speaking afterwards, Mohamad Sulimani, chairman of the artists’ group, said: “It’s great to see that Matthew Offord and other MPs are with us. 

“We want the government to listen to them and see that the pressure they are putting on works, but the government doesn’t want regime change – it wants negotiation.”