Monday, May 16, 2011

Camp Ashraf and continued violence

The Tehran Times is trumpeting that Camp Ashraf is soon to be no more. Background, Camp Ashraf is an enclosed area that houses Iranian dissidents who have been present in Iraq since before the start of the Iraq War and, following the US invasion, the US made these MEK residents of Camp Ashraf -- these Iranian refuees who had been in Iraq for decades -- surrender weapons and also put them under US protection. They also extracted a 'promise' from Nouri that he would not move against them. July 28, 2009 the world saw what Nouri's word was actually worth. Since that Nouri-ordered assault in which at least 11 residents died, he's continued to bully the residents. April 4th, Iran's Fars News Agency reported that the Iraqi military denied allegations that it entered the camp and assaulted residents. Specifically, Camp Ashraf residents state, "The forces of Iraq's Fifth Division invaded Camp Ashraf with columns of armored vehicles, occupying areas inside the camp, since midnight on Saturday." Friday April 8th saw another attack which the Iraqi government again denied. Thursday April 14th, the United Nations confirmed that 34 people were killed in the April 8th assault on Camp Ashraf. Barbara Grady (San Jose Mercury News) reported that the dead included journalist Asieh Rakhshani who has family in California. The assault hasn't really registered in the US the way it has in Europe. AFP reports, "Urgent international action is needed to avert 'a Srbrenica-style massacre' at the Iraqi Ashraf camp housing thousands of exiled Iranian opponents, a European parliament delegation said Tuesday after returning from Iraq." CBS and AP note US Senator John Kerry has termed the April 8th assault a "massacre."

This morning the Tehran Times reports that the camp is to be shut down citing Iraq's Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, as the source. The US State Dept has been attempting to work out a deal whereby the camp would be relocated to another area of Iraq, one not so close to Iran. This does not appear to be what Zebari is indicating will happen because he and Ibrahim Jafari are noted for stating that other countries will need to accept the residents and the term "expulsion" is used. Meanwhile Reza Haftbaradaran writes at the Telegraph of London about his daughter:

My daughter Saba’s life ended at 5:30 in the morning on 9 April 2011 at the age of 29. The story leading to the worst day of my life is one which must be heard by the families of British and US troops, whose many loved ones gave their lives on Iraqi soil.
Saba was born in 1981 in an Iranian prison. As a child she spent many days in prison alongside her mother and I who had been jailed for demanding freedom. She would sleep and wake to the sound of screams from the political prisoners being tortured. When we finally escaped Iran we set up home at Camp Ashraf, a refugee camp in Iraq, home to 3,400 Iranian dissidents, members of the PMOI, forced from their homes for opposing the Iranian regime. Saba who had been born in prison and left prison at the age of two was some years later sent abroad to Germany where she and her sister could live and study. However, the sound of torture from Saba’s childhood never left her and at the age of 19 she decided to come to Ashraf to struggle with us for freedom and democracy in Iran.
On 8 April 2011, in the middle of the night, 2,500 Iraqi soldiers forced entry to Ashraf and began shooting at its unarmed residents, as well as driving at them in Humvees. As I saw the slaughter of my friends and colleagues happening before me, my thoughts immediately turned to finding Saba. As I searched amongst the hundreds of wounded, I was told by a doctor that she had been shot and taken to hospital. Only when I arrived there did I realize the extent of her injuries. She had been shot in the thigh, breaking the bone and tearing her main artery. She was, though, awake and could speak to me and I knew immediately that with the necessary treatment her life could easily be saved. It soon became clear that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who had ordered the massacre, had no intention of allowing victims to live.

Violence continues in Iraq. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing left eight people injured (three are bodyguards of the Baghdad Provincial Council's Kamel al-Zaidi), another Baghdad roadside bombing injured three people, a third injured five, 1 police officer was shot dead in Baghdad, a coprse was discovered in Kirkuk, a Mosul sticky bomb on a judge's car was successfully dismantled, and, dropping back to Sunday for the rest, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 Interior Ministry worker, 1 person was shot dead in Baghdad by assailants on motorcycles, 1 soldier was shot dead in Mosul and a child left injured and "the son of a civilian contractor" was shot dead in a separate Mosul shooting.

On today's Morning Edition (NPR), Robert Smith reports on Ron Paul. (That's noted at the request of an NPR friend and I haven't heard the story yet myself.) US House Rep Ron Paul gets noted because he continues to speak out against the ongoing Iraq War. Still on radio, today on Law and Disorder Radio (which I don't think broadcasts on WBAI today due to fund raising -- I could be wrong -- but it broadcasts around the country throughout the week), Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith are joined by attorney Daniel Mayfield to explore an attempt to shut down student speech -- specifically the 11 Muslim students who protested a speech at the University of California at Irvine and, with Omar Barghouti, they explore divestment, sanctions, boycotts and other strategies in the pursuit of rights for the Palestinians.

In Iraq, Haider Athari (Al Sabaah) reports that a campaign is being mouthed to perserve the "landmarks and the heritage of the city of Baghdad" with academics, architects, urban planners and others working on it together. While they work towards a Thursday announcement, Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that the Parliament wants their summer vacation and is refusing to cancel it. MP Mohamed Khaldi explains that he and some of his peers are tired -- especially of the ongoing demonstrations. Zainab Suncor (Al Mada) notes that Nouri has stated meetings will begin after June 13th (when Parliament gets back from vacation) to begin determining whether or not US forces will remain on the ground in Iraq past 2011. A State Of Law source tells Al Mada that State Of Law will support the decision to keep US troops.

The e-mail address for this site is