Iran’s ambassador to Iraq announced that “all members of Camp Ashraf are pardoned, except for 100 people who have pending judiciary files.” Hassan Danaifar told ISNA that “other members of Camp Ashraf are free to return to our dear country or travel wherever they wish.”
Camp Ashraf is the military base of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), a dissident Iranian organization that was established in Iraq in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq War. After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Americans took control of the base and disarmed it. In 2009, the U.S. transferred control of the camp to the government of Iraq.
Iraqi authorities have indicated they want the camp members removed from their territory and the camp dismantled.
According to the Iranian ambassador, there are 3,400 camp residents. One thousand have returned to Iran and 750 are trying to leave with the help of the Red Cross.
Human rights groups maintain that residents of Camp Ashraf must receive international protection under the Geneva Convention.
Danaifar said living conditions in Camp Ashraf are inadequate, pointing out that residents have no access to the media or telephone service and their freedom is restricted.
He claimed the PMOI is guarding the camp to prevent members from escaping but a senior member of the group did recently get away. Danaifar said the PMOI is bent on keeping Camp Ashraf, even though Iraq opposes the group’s presence in the country.
The Iraqi government has announced that PMOI members must leave Iraq by the end of 2011.
Camp Ashraf became the scene of clashes between Iraqi forces and camp residents two weeks ago. According to reports by human rights investigators, at least 43 camp resident were killed in the attack. Iraqi forces have claimed the attack was instigated by camp members.