UN rights office urges probe into Iraq military raid

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[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] on Friday denounced a deadly Iraqi military raid [press release] on a camp housing Iranian exiles. At least 34 people, including women, were shot to death or trampled by military vehicles during the Iraqi military’s April 8 operation at Camp Ashraf. The camp is composed of members of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) who seek to overthrow Iranian government officials. The Iraqi militants initiated the raid after Ashraf exiles allegedly threw rocks at soldiers [AP report]. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] indicated that few measures are available for resolving the discord between the Iranian exile group and the Iraqi government:

Everyone had been fearing a tragedy like this for a long time. 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. 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. I urge governments to take the necessary pragmatic and generous steps to resolve what is an untenable situation.

Pillay also called for a “full, independent and transparent inquiry” into the military operation to ensure that those who exercised excessive force are prosecuted.

The PMOI has been designated a foreign terrorist group by the US since 1997, but it stopped military action in 2001 [WP report], and, since 2003, has been without weapons. The group has also touted its actions in providing information about Iran’s nuclear program. In July, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] ordered [opinion, PDF] the State Department to reconsider the status of the PMOI [JURIST report]. In 2008, the European Court of First Instance [official website] annulled a decision by the EU [JURIST report] to place the PMOI on a list of terrorist groups. That decision followed an order by the UK Parliament to remove the PMOI from a British list of terrorist groups [JURIST report]. PMOI is Iran’s main political opposition organization and part of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) [group website], an umbrella coalition of Iranian opposition groups. The PMOI has been at odds with the Iranian government since it chose to support Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] during the 1980s.

Read more detail on JURIST – Paper Chase

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