150 days of campaign to protect Iranians in Camp Ashraf
Opinion from Geneva by Mehran Bahramian
September 27, 2011
It has become a daily exercise for me to show respect to groups of people from different parts of the world campaigning
for human rights in their country, while passing through the Nation Square in Geneva.
The significance of Geneva is that it hosts the headquarters of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, High Commissioner
for Human Rights and the Red Cross.
The protests usually call on the UN and governments and the international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for
intervention and support.
The Arab spring and specially the experience in Libya is a great achievement in the certainty of the fact that you need
international support in order to be able to protect freedom and democracy against dictatorships.
Amongst all the groups of people protesting from Libya, Syria, the Tamils, the Kurds, Iran, Afghanistan and many other
nationalities, there is but one exceptional phenomenon, the Iranians who have been campaigning for 150 days nonstop for
the protection of Camp Ashraf.
Camp Ashraf was established 26 years ago in north of Baghdad by the members of the Iranian opposition movement, the
People's Mujahidin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The PMOI is an Iranian democratic secular political force opposed to
the theocracy of the mullahs of Iran.
The PMOI renounced the use of force in 2001 and voluntarily gave up their arms to the American forces in 2003. In
return, the American and the Multi National Forces recognized the residents of the camp as protected persons under the
4th Geneva Convention.
In the beginning of 2009, according to State of the Forces Act (SOFA) agreement between the Iraqi government and the
United States, authority on specific sites including Ashraf was passed on to the Iraqis. As a "protégé “of the Iranian
regime, the Iraqi government formed by Nouri Al-Maliki was hardly in a position to protect those people.
By the consent of the Iranian regime, the Iraqi army has already attacked the Camp twice, once in July 2009 killing 11
and wounding hundreds, and a second time in April 2011 killing 36 and again wounding hundreds. In a psychological war,
the army has set up loudspeakers around the Camp, in the hundreds, on poles, blaring in Farsi threats of death 24/7 for
nearly two years now.
The Iranian government has called on the Iraqi government to expel the Camp Ashraf residents from Iraq and Maleki has
acknowledged by setting a time limit for the residents to leave by the end of 2011 or face the "consequences". It is
obvious that time is running out before a greater massacre takes place.
Steadfastly chanting “UN UN take action, ensure Ashraf protection” the Geneva protestors call on UN and president Obama
to intervene and take appropriate steps to ensure the protection of Camp Ashraf and its residents and prevent a new
If we have learnt one lesson from the events in Libya, it is that we must back the brave opponents of the region’s
dictators to establish democracy and freedom in their homelands.
It’s time for President Obama to prove his sincerity for supporting the Iranian people and their sons and daughters who
stood up courageously against a religious dictatorship that has been, and remains, the greatest threat for the free