Denouncing Iraqi operation, UN rights chief calls for inquiry into camp deaths

Entrance gate of Camp Ashraf

15 April 2011 – The United Nations human rights chief today condemned a recent Iraqi military operation in a camp north of Baghdad that left 34 people dead and dozens injured, and called for an independent inquiry into the incident.

Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said full details of what actually happened on the morning of 8 April at Camp Ashraf, which houses an Iranian exile group known as the People’s Mojahedeen of Iran, are only beginning to emerge.

“But it now seems certain that at least 34 people were killed in Camp Ashraf, including seven or more women. Most were shot, and some appear to have been crushed to death, presumably by vehicles,” she stated in a news release.

Ms. Pillay noted that the Iraqi military was well aware of the risks attached to launching an operation like this at the camp. A similar operation by Iraqi security forces in 2009 left 11 people dead and dozens wounded at Ashraf.

“There is no possible excuse for this number of casualties,” she said, referring to the latest incident.

“There must be a full, independent and transparent inquiry, and any person found responsible for use of excessive force should be prosecuted.”

The High Commissioner also called on other governments to urgently consider resettlement to third countries to help provide long-term solutions for the residents of the camp.

“I am well aware that this is a contentious group, with a complicated history, but leaving them to fester in Camp Ashraf was never going to be a solution,” she stated.

“Clearly, since they are unable to go back to Iran, and are in danger in Iraq, the solution is most likely to involve moving them to third countries.”


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