Amnesty International, in an urgent call to action on November 19, announced that the seven Iranian exiles who were abducted from Camp Ashraf in Iraq are held by Iraqi security forces in Baghdad.
According to the statement of the renowned human rights organization, “the seven Iranian exiles abducted on 1 September are now known to be held by the Iraqi security forces at an unofficial detention facility in central Baghdad. They are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment and could be forcibly returned to Iran.”
The Amnesty International statement went on to say that “according to reliable sources, the seven were transferred under tight security to an unofficial detention facility in the former al-Muthanna airport in central Baghdad at the end of September. The seven remain under investigation.”
In another statement, on September 19, Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union, stated, “We have reason to believe that up to seven camp residents are being held in captivity near Baghdad, and that there is a significant risk that they could be sent to Iran.”
Furthermore, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe announced on November 21 that “there are indications that these seven people are being held by the Iraqi security forces at a secret detention facility in Baghdad. They are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment and could be forcibly returned to Iran.”
The seven Iranian exiles, six women and one man, are members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the principal Iranian opposition movement. They were taken hostage during a raid by Iraqi forces on Camp Ashraf, upon the orders of Iraq Prime Minster Nouri-al Maliki. During the raid, 52 residents, protected persons under Geneva Conventions, were mass executed. According to Amnesty International, “video footage and photographs showed that many of the 52 had been shot in the head, some while handcuffed. Eyewitnesses from the camp said they had seen the seven people in handcuffs, being beaten, thrown to the ground and then taken away in a white minibus.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of Iranians have been on a hunger strike in Camp Liberty, the new, temporary place of residence of Iranian exiles in Iraq, as well as in London, Berlin, Geneva, Ottawa, Melbourne, Stockholm and Rome. The strike has now lasted 83 days, with participants demanding release of hostages and a guarantee of protection for the people at Camp Liberty. The physical condition of scores of hunger strikers is deteriorating rapidly.
Relatives of Camp Liberty residents are demanding that the international community exert pressure on the government of Iraq to release the seven hostages and save the lives of hundreds of hunger strikers who are in immediate danger.