News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqEU calls on Iraq to protect exiled Iranian group

EU calls on Iraq to protect exiled Iranian group

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ImageAFP: The European Parliament on Friday called on Iraq to respect the "protected persons" status of an exiled Iranian opposition group and withdraw a threat to close their camp north of Baghdad.

ImageSTRASBOURG (AFP) — The European Parliament on Friday called on Iraq to respect the "protected persons" status of an exiled Iranian opposition group and withdraw a threat to close their camp north of Baghdad.

The parliamentary text, adopted during a plenary session in Strasbourg, called on the Iraqi prime minister "to ensure that no action is taken by the Iraqi authorities which violates the human rights of the Camp Ashraf residents and to clarify the government's intentions towards them."

Iraqi national security advisor Muwafaq al-Rubaie said last month that the 3,000 members of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) should leave the camp, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from border with Iran, where they have been living for two decades, describing them as "foreign terrorists."

The EU parliament said that those in the camp who left Iran for political reasons "could be at risk of serious human rights violations if they were to be returned involuntarily to Iran."

The MEPs said that "no person should be returned, either directly or via a third country, to a situation where they would be at risk of torture or other serious human rights abuses."

They called on the Iraqi government to respect the legal status of the residents as "protected persons" under the Geneva Conventions and to refrain from any action that would endanger their life or security.

The resolution also called on the European Union, together with the Iraqi and US governments, the United Nations and the Red Cross "to work towards finding a satisfactory long-term legal status for Camp Ashraf residents."

The camp houses supporters of the PMOI and their families.

The PMOI was founded in 1965 in opposition to the shah of Iran, but was defeated by the rival clerical regime which took power in 1979.

The group disarmed after the overthrow of Saddam in April 2003 by US-led forces but was allowed to remain at Ashraf.

In 2002, the PMOI was listed by the European Union as a terrorist organisation but was struck off the list in January this year, to the fury of Tehran. It remains on a US blacklist.

PMOI head Maryam Rajavi, who lives in exile in Paris, welcomed the EU parliament's stance as "a defeat for the clerical regime in its plots against the residents of Ashraf and its attempts to prepare the grounds for a human catastrophe."

Adoption of the resolution "clearly showed that diametrically opposite to the mullahs' plots, support for the rights of Ashraf residents as the bulwark to the mullahs' export of fundamentalism is growing in Iraq, in the region and in the international scope," Rajavi said in a statement.

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