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Barnet's Iranian community go on hunger strike as they call for democracy in Iraq
Barnet’s Anglo-Iranians are taking part in a hunger strike in a desperate bid to save their loved ones from further violent attacks in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
The 100-strong group have been camped outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square since Sunday, September 1 and are showing no signs of letting up.
The protest started following news that 52 people were killed in Camp Ashraf which is the temporary base for members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), the principal Iranian opposition movement.
The PMOI, which protests against Iran’s clerical regime, has accused Iraqi troops of carrying out the assault and taking seven of its members including six women hostage.
Many Iranians living in Barnet have loved ones who live in the camp and are desperately concerned for their safety.
Speaking to the Times Series Director of Association of Anglo-Iranian Women in the UK, Laila Jazayeri said: “Whatever happens in Camp Ashraf has a direct effect on people living in the borough because so many Iranians have family or friends living there.
"All these people have been granted refugee status by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
and Iraq has violated International Law.
“When we heard about the recent attack we were angry. As a result lots of Barnet’s Iranians have gone on a hunger strike to get the US government and our government to take action by putting pressure on the Iraqi government to stop further attacks and bloodshed, and to release our hostages.”
Ms Jazayeri says the protesters are surviving on water and small numbers of sugar cubes.
She added: “I have been down to see them. They are very weak but they will stay there indefinitely until the hostages are released.”
Foreign Office Minister, Alistair Burt, said: “I am appalled to hear of the violence at Camp Ashraf in Iraq, which we understand has resulted in the death of many camp residents. We condemn this utterly and our thoughts go out to the families of the victims.
“Our Embassy in Baghdad is in close contact with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, who are making an urgent assessment of the situation. We support their work and call on the Government of Iraq to assist the UN fully.
"The Government of Iraq must also do everything necessary to ensure the safety of the residents and care for survivors, and must conduct an urgent and transparent investigation into what took place, and ensure those responsible are brought to justice.”
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