European members call for PMOI protection

Oct. 3, 2008 at 7:17 PM
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BRUSSELS, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Several members of the Council of Europe backed a written declaration regarding the protection of Iranian dissidents in Iraq.

Members of the Council of Europe, Amnesty International along with the International Federation of Human Rights expressed their concern regarding members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran in Ashraf city 50 miles north of Baghdad.

The PMOI is an Iranian dissident movement seeking democratic reform in Iran. Though it is listed by several nations as a terrorist organization for its activities under the former regime, it has an ambiguous relationship with the United States due to its anti-Iranian stance.

U.S. military forces currently protect the group's sanctuary in Ashraf, but recent claims that Iraqi security forces would assume security responsibility have prompted concern for the group's safety, as many pro-Iranian groups in Iraq may seek retribution on the group.

The Council of Europe document says transferring responsibility over Ashraf violates international standards regarding protected persons and calls on the U.S. military to continue protecting the PMOI in Iraq "to protect Ashraf residents and uphold their judicial protection under international law."

Media reports from September said several members of the PMOI were arrested in France and Switzerland, though officials familiar with the group's activities claim those arrested were sympathizers, not official members.

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