Six, including Islington woman, on 89-day hunger strike over camp Ashraf killings

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A memorial to the victims of the Camp Ashraf massacre
A memorial to the victims of the Camp Ashraf massacre
A memorial to the victims of the Camp Ashraf massacre

THE SIX people lying in tents outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square are prepared to die.

The five women and one man have been on hunger strike for 89 days in protest against Western inaction following the massacre of 52 Iranians in camp Ashraf, a refugee camp in Iraq.

Touran Ranjbar, of Tufnell Park Road, is striking because she believes the US military is guilty of failing to protect refugees it promised to keep safe when it ran camp Ashraf, 40 kilometres north of Baghdad.

“They [the US] signed an agreement. They said they were going to protect these people. But they haven’t and the camp has been attacked seven times.

“One of them [the 52 killed in September] is my childhood friend and I’ve got a lot of memories with her. It is very hard for me to accept.”

The refugees in the camps are part of dissident Iranian group the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), to which Ms. Ranjbar also belongs. Hungerstriker

According to the PMOI, Iraqi forces entered the camp on 1 September and killed 52 refugees. They claim soldiers handcuffed some of the victims’ hands, before shooting them in the head. Seven refugees were allegedly kidnapped. The Iraqi government claims the deaths were the result of infighting.

Ms Ranjbar said she feared for the seven hostages. “Yesterday the UN say they are in Iraq – they are in danger, maybe they hand over to Iran. This is worse. They have been tortured.”

She added that the plight of the hostages and other people still in Iran left her with no choice but to undertake the hunger strike, despite its difficulty.

She said she would continue until the US or UK promised to save the hostages and protect the refugees still in Iraq.

“I’ve got very bad chest pains. All my muscles, my eyes. I am all the time vomiting. And sometimes even I cannot walk. But I am glad; I have readied myself to die. I am one person, but I can save a thousand people”.

 

Billy Ehrenberg, @billyehrenberg