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Iranian exiles demand protection for Ashraf

Iranian exiles demand protection for Ashraf
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Some 15,000 supporters of the Iranian opposition Mujahideen have gathered near Paris for the 30th anniversary of their organisation.

The meeting, which has been held every year since 2004, heard appeals for protection for its Camp Ashraf in Iraq, where 34 Iranian dissidents reportedly died in April after the Iraqi army entered the camp.

Ashraf, about 65 km north of Baghdad, is the base of the People’s Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI), which has for decades advocated the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran in place since 1979. The United States, Iraq and Iran consider PMOI to be a terrorist group.

The camp’s fate has been in question since the US military turned it over to Baghdad in 2009 under a bilateral security agreement.

On April 8, Iraqi forces moved against the camp in what they said was an attempt to reclaim land and return it to farmers. The United Nations says 34 Iranian dissidents were killed, while Iraqi officials say three died.

At the Paris gathering, Iranian dissident leader Maryam Rajavi said: “The armed forces must leave the camp and an impartial investigation into the April 8 massacre must begin.”

The United States has proposed a temporary relocation of Ashraf’s residents within Iraq, pending eventual resettlement in third countries, but the PMOI’s umbrella group — the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) — has rejected that idea.