Sunday, 20 September 2009

Rowan Williams: Protect Camp Ashraf Residents

LONDON (AP) -- The Archbishop of Canterbury said Sunday that the U.S. and Iraq must protect the residents of Camp Ashraf from violence and abuse.

The situation in Camp Ashraf ''constitutes a humanitarian and human rights issue of real magnitude and urgency,'' Archbishop Rowan Williams said in a statement on his Web site.

''There is a strong argument in terms of international law that the Ashraf residents are ''protected persons.'' he said. ''Both the government of Iraq and the government of the United States -- as the agency responsible for the transfer of the residents to another jurisdiction -- have an obligation to secure the rights of these residents and to defend them from violence and abuse.''

Williams, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Church, said a U.N monitoring team must be established to visit the camp.

Members of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, a resistance group opposed to the clerical regime in Tehran, accuse the United States of failing to protect their brethren at the camp in Iraq. Around 3,500 members of the group have been confined there since 2003, when U.S. forces invaded and disarmed them.

The U.S. military turned over responsibility for the camp to the Iraqis on Jan. 1. Iraqi soldiers launched a bloody effort to assert their authority in late July. Iranian resistance groups say nine people were killed and hundreds were injured in the raid.

Williams also urged Iranian dissidents outside the U.S Embassy in London to end their hunger strike in support of the Camp Ashraf residents.

''Further loss of life would only compound recent tragic events, '' he said.


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