Iranian refugees who have fled to Iraq are suffering under severe circumstances of terror, impoverishment, and direct repression: the Kurdistan Regional Government and Asayesh (local security forces) terrorize Iranian asylum-seekers and illegally deport Iranian refugees (at least 45 known illegal deportations); the Iraqi government is keeping Iranian refugees in its prisons and allowing them to be tortured, including the torture of minors; and most recently, the Iraqi government has conducted military operations against unarmed Iranian refugees living in Camp Ashraf, killing tens and injuring hundreds.
The Iraqi government also allows the Islamic Republic of Iran to have a free hand in persecuting and terrorizing Iranian refugees that have fled Iran across the border into Iraq. Compounding the problems, UNHCR in Iraq is actively endangering the lives of Iranian refugees by falsely claiming to be functional, instead luring Iranian refugees to Iraq where they are completely vulnerable to both agents of the Islamic Republic and to Iraqi security, and then refusing to process refugee cases according to the mandate of UNHCR.
To protest against the Iraqi government’s central role in violating the rights of Iranian refugees in Iraq, Mission Free Iran coordinated a protest action outside of the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, DC. Activists from the Iran Refugee Amnesty Network, another member of the International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees, also participated in this action, along with a number of members of the local Washington community. People of Iranian, American, and Kenyan nationality participated in the action in support of Iranian refugees in Iraq.
The protest consisted of raising awareness among passing motorists by holding signs supporting the rights of Iranian refugees in Iraq, handing out flyers about the Iraqi government’s crimes against Iranian refugees to passing pedestrians (see below), and chanting slogans about the rights of refugees at the Iraqi Embassy. We also made a statement condemning the crimes of the Iraqi government against both Iranian refugees in Iraq, as well as the government’s crimes against Iraqi people themselves, who are also struggling against the corruption and violence of the Iraqi government at this time. In addition to demanding that the fundamental rights of Iranian refugees be upheld, we also demanded prima facie status for Iranian refugees.During our protest, we were approached by a DC metropolitan police officer who took routine information about our action, and observed the protest from across the street. An employee of the Embassy also came out to observe the action and reported it to his employers via his mobile phone. Later, a secret service agent was noted observing the action and its participants.
We had a successful protest action at the Iraqi Embassy on April 17th demanding that the rights of Iranian refugees in Iraq be upheld, and there are plans to return to protest again on Sunday, 24 April 2011.