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Hendon MP demands UN protection at Camp Ashraf
THE MP for Hendon, Matthew Offord joined cross-party MPs, Peers and jurists to call on the United Nations for the immediate protection of refugees in Iraq this week.
The group has appealed for blue-helmet UN security forces to be stationed at Camp Ashraf to guard residents from another major attack by the Iraqi army when US forces leave at the end of the year.
Speaking out at Tuesday’s conference, the Parliamentarians and jurists also demanded Iraq abandon its end-of-year deadline to forcibly close the camp.
Since the 1980s Camp Ashraf has been occupied by 3,400 members of the Iranian resistance, Peoples of Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) which raises awareness of human rights violations in Iran.
It calls for an end to what it refers to as a "two-year-long inhumane siege of Ashraf”, suppressing residents and limiting supplies including medication.
The camp has become an icon of hope for a free democratic Iran but on April 8, the Iraqi army shot its unarmed civilians, leaving 34 dead and hundreds more injured.
A similar incident was reported in 2009, when 11 people died and 500 were injured when the Iraqi army stormed the camp.
Mr Offord said: “I have become involved with the issue of Camp Ashraf because I have many constituents who have relations, friends and loved ones currently in the camp. As such I am representing them and assist in any way that I can.
“In addition, as a parliamentarian I will always assist if I become aware of injustice, particularly when it involves violence against innocent people.
“I would also like to see a change in the ruling regime in Iran, to be replaced by a secular, democratic government. The residents of Camp Ashraf and their supporters are the one who are most suitable for that role.”
Laila Jazayeri is director of the Association of Anglo-Iranian Women in Barnet which campaigns for the camp’s safety.
She said: “Barnet Iranians call on the UK government to ask Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi Prime Minister to extend his unlawful deadline to close the camp by the end of the year so that the UN’s Refugee Agency has enough time to process each resident's application for political asylum and to be able to relocate the residents in western countries.
“Our government here should stop all financial assistance to the Iraqi government while this dictator is unlawfully in power.”