London, 7 Jul – In a public statement, following Monday’s missile bombardment on Camp Liberty in Iraq, Amnesty International said the camp’s “residents must be protected from attacks.” Its 6 July statement also called for “an independent, impartial and prompt investigation into the 4 July rocket attack on the camp, which is home to Iranian exiles.”
Noting “some 50 injuries and material damage,” camp residents, mostly the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK), told Amnesty International that the rocket fire began as they broke their fast and targeted “the southern section of the camp – which has a high concentration of women residents.”
A 30-year-old woman told Amnesty International: “I was just finishing up eating when I heard the first explosion. I got out of the food hall together with my friends, and we started running. A rocket exploded about three metres away from me. From the impact, I fell on the ground on my face. I had blood all over my face.”
Another woman said “she felt that she was being “buried alive” under the flying debris and smoke as she hid in a deep hole in the ground”.
The Ministry of Interior, Amnesty International reported, confirmed that Camp Liberty was “hit by rockets” on 4 July.
Calling for those responsible to be brought to justice, Amnesty International said it “regrets the failure to adequately investigate previous deadly attacks against the camp, which sent the message that camp residents can be attacked with impunity.”
Amnesty International also called attention to the “desperate living conditions” at Camp Liberty given the prevention of essential supplies by the “Iraqi security forces.” It called on the Iraqi authorities to ensure that “essential services to the camp are restored, that access to basic necessities is not impeded and that those whose homes have been destroyed in the shelling are provided with adequate temporary shelter without delay”.
Previous attacks on Camp Liberty were described by Amnesty International. On 28-29 July 2009, “Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and others were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten.”
On 29 October 2015, “Camp Liberty was struck by a barrage of rockets, which killed at least 23 people, including one woman, and injured dozens. An Iraqi militia, the al-Mukhtar Army, claimed responsibility for that attack and warned that the attack may be repeated.”
Amnesty International said, “no one has ever been brought to account.”