Iran General NewsGerman lawmakers act on behalf of Ashraf

German lawmakers act on behalf of Ashraf

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ImageUPI: A group of German lawmakers has urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to act on behalf of Iranian dissidents exiled in Iraq.

United Press International

ImageBERLIN, Aug. 28 (UPI) — A group of German lawmakers has urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to act on behalf of Iranian dissidents exiled in Iraq.

Seventeen lawmakers from Merkel's conservatives in a letter urged the chancellor to help 36 Iranians jailed and, according to Amnesty International, possibly tortured by Iraqi military.

The dissidents were seized last month when Iraqi forces stormed Camp Ashraf, a city in Iraq where some 3,500 Iranian dissidents have been living for the past two decades. In the melee, Iraqi forces killed nine people, injuring some 450 more. The dissidents have been brought to an unknown location and could be extradited to Iran, where they would face torture or death sentences.

The lawmakers also urged Merkel to convince the United States to take over the protection of Camp Ashraf, and called for an international monitoring presence in the dissident camp. Its citizens belong to the People's Mujahedin of Iran, an Iranian opposition group Tehran says is composed of terrorists. The United States also considers the PMOI a terror organization. After a long legal battle, it was removed from the European Union's terrorist list in January. The PMOI says that it has long focused on peaceful resistance.

U.S. forces disarmed Ashraf residents after the Iraq war and from 2003 until the end of 2008 provided security for them because of their status as "protected persons" under the Geneva Conventions. The Iraqi military took over protection of Ashraf on Jan. 1, giving the Americans guarantees to protect Ashraf citizens.

However, Baghdad is determined to close the camp and expel its residents to Iran or a third country. Observers say the planned closure of Ashraf is a deal between Baghdad and the clerical regime in Iran.

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