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UN secretary general condemns attack on Iran exile camp

United Nations (UN) [official website] Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Saturday condemned [UN News Centre report] a mortar attack on Camp Liberty, an Iranian exile camp near the Iraq capital Baghdad. The attack reportedly killed six people and injured several others. The camp functions as a temporary holding facility for over 3000 exiles, where the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] carries out a process to determine their refugee status. Ban is calling upon the government of Iraq to fully investigate the incident and prosecute the offenders.

Many of the exiles at Camp Liberty are members of the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) [advocacy website; Global Security backgrounder], an opposition movement that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran in favor of a democratic, secular government. Although the group was previously an ally of Iraq, they are no longer considered welcome in Iraq under the Shi'ite-led government which came to power in the elections [JURIST report] following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Camp residents were previously situated in Camp Ashraf in eastern Iraq, but were relocated to Camp Liberty [AP report], a former US military base, in 2012. MEK protested the move, claiming Camp Liberty to be "an intolerable prison," where they are not permitted to leave and they live without reliable electricity, air conditioning, or water supplies. The MEK has long criticized Ban's Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler [press release], accusing him [Reuters report] of playing down problems with the group's facilities at Camp Liberty. The UN has dismissed this criticism.

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