This is Local London: Hundreds of Anglo-Iranians living in the borough have tried preventing further attacks on their people in Iraq by taking part in protests and hunger strikes – but now they want people in Barnet to add their voices to the campaign for peace.
This is Local London
By Natalie O’Neill
A group of Anglo-Iranians are calling on Barnet people to sign up to their campaign to save their loved ones from violent massacres in Iraq.
Hundreds of Anglo-Iranians living in the borough have tried preventing further attacks on their people in Iraq by taking part in protests and hunger strikes – but now they want people in Barnet to add their voices to the campaign for peace.
Many of the ex-patriots have family and friends who are part of Iranian exile group, People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), who have “protected persons” status under the Geneva Convention.
Despite this, they were forced to flee from Camp Ashraf to another site, known as Camp Liberty, following attacks reportedly made by the Iraqi army.
Since 2009 it is believed a total of 116 members have been killed and 19 have died due to lack of medical attention.
Bahman Shahpouri, who lives in Hendon and is joint director of the Anglo Iranian Youth Society in North Finchley, said: “We’re always on standby for something else to happen and we live in fear of more attacks from the Iraqi army. There’s no justice.”
Speaking about his 53-year-old uncle, Namat Oliyaei, who is currently in Camp Liberty, Mr Shahpouri said: “The last time I spoke to my uncle he said it was like living in a prison. I’m really worried for my uncle but also the thousands of people that are also there.
“These are the people who can help build a better Iran – they are the future of Iran. We have to support them.”
Mohamad Sulimani, who lives in Colindale and is a member of the Anglo Iranian Young Artists group in North Finchley, said: “Our main aim is for a regime change in Iran. We want to get rid of dictators and we want peace.
“We would really like people in Barnet to help us fight our cause by joining us in our rallies.”
Mr Shahpouri added: “If everyone knows what is happening and what could happen, then we believe something will be done to put a stop to it.”
The PMOI group was listed as a terror group by the US since 1997, but was removed in 2012 after the state department said the group clearly renounces violence.
Earlier this month Hendon MP, Matthew Offord, spoke out in support of the drawn-out campaign stating he would do everything he could to bring it to the attention of the Government.