Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lawyers representing an Iranian opposition group said Monday they will file lawsuits against the United States and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for failing to respect the rights of dissidents they say were savagely beaten in a raid on their camp in Iraq last month.

The lawyers said the U.S. signed “contracts” with members of Camp Ashraf promising them protection in return for them renouncing terrorism.

“The United States bears not only moral but legal responsibility for the events at Ashraf,” said Steven Schneebaum, who has acted as the Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization’s counsel in the U.S. The group also goes by the name People’s Mojahedin of Iran.

French lawyer Francois Serres said at a news conference in Washington that he would be taking legal action against Mr. al-Maliki in European courts as well as in the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Other lawsuits would be filed in U.S. courts against the U.S.

The State Department lists MeK as a terrorist organization. The group, headed by Maryam Rajavi, was taken off several European terror lists in the past year.

On July 28, Iraqi soldiers entered Camp Ashraf and began arresting and beating MeK members. Two videos shot by members of the camp were shown to journalists Monday.

The raid resulted in the death of nine residents; 450 were injured and 36 arrested.

Camp Ashraf was established to house some 5,000 Iranian dissidents who were given shelter in Iraq by Saddam Hussein’s regime.

When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, the MeK surrendered to U.S. forces.

“Those people rejected terrorism and accepted to be placed under the protection of the U.S. Army,” said Mr. Schneebaum. “The signed a legally binding agreement with the government of the United States.”

Mr. Serres said U.S. soldiers filmed Iraqi troops beating residents of Camp Ashraf but did not intervene.

“We see this as a crime against humanity,” he said.

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