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Iraq: Journalists denied entry to Camp Ashraf after army attack

Residents of Camp Ashraf demonstrate in front of media reporters touring in a bus, a day after their clashes with the Iraqi security forces at Camp Ashraf, an Iranian dissident camp, in Diyala province, north of Baghdad April 9, 2011. At least 10 Iranian exiles were killed in Iraq on Friday, a hospital source said, after security forces clashed with residents of an Iranian dissident camp north of Baghdad overnight.

A news blackout has been imposed by Iraqi authorities on events at Camp Ashraf, a camp in northern Iraq that houses 3,500 Iranian exiles. An attack by the Iraqi army yesterday reportedly resulted in the deaths of around 30 residents and many wounded. According to several news organisations, the camp is surrounded by armoured vehicles and army trucks. Journalists have been forced to remain at the camp gates. No media personnel have been allowed inside.

Located 60 km west of the Iranian border and 120 km north of Baghdad, Camp Ashraf was set up in the 1980s to house members of the People’s Mujahideen, a militant Iranian movement opposed to Iran’s Islamic regime.

US forces began disarming them after the 2003 invasion. Since then the camp’s residents have been protected under the Geneva Conventions. After overseeing the camp for six years, the US military handed over control to the Iraqi authorities in January 2009.

“This news blackout is unacceptable,” Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “The security forces are denying journalists access to the camp to hide abuses committed against civilians. Anyone trying to take photographs of the clashes is being attacked in a systematic and targeted fashion.”

The Iraqi authorities have banned journalists from entering the camp since July 2009, following clashes between Iraqi security forces and the camp’s residents. The residents accuse the Iraqi authorities of trying to please the Iranian government while the Iraqis blame claim the violence on the Mujahideen.

Date posted: April 10, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 184