Abducted exiles sought

17 January 2014

Anguished: Shahabeh Barouti and her mother 

Anguished: Shahabeh Barouti and her mother 

THE last time Shahabeh Barouti spoke to her mother, she was told: "Don't worry: we'll see each other soon." That was last August, a few days before her mother's disappearance on 1 September. On Sunday, she spoke of the "pain and anguish" of the continued separation.

Her mother, Mahnaz Azizi, is a member of the People's Mojahedeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI), an outlawed Iranian opposition group whose members have sought asylum in Iraq, at Camp Ashraf. Earlier last year, 3200 Iranian exiles were transferred to Camp Hurriya. Ms Barouti was one of those moved; her mother stayed at Camp Ashraf.

On 1 September, the camp was attacked, and 52 residents were killed (News, 13 September). Ms Azizi was one of seven people who disappeared. A Spanish court announced last month that it would investigate Faleh al-Fayad, the security adviser to the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, for "alleged involvement" in the massacre and abductions.

"It is clear to everyone that the seven hostages are in the hands of Maliki's government, incarcerated in his prisons," Miss Barouti said. "There's no doubt that they are in Iraq, and are facing the threat of being extradited to Iran."

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances reported that "Iraqi forces allegedly admitted having these individuals in custody." The Iraqi authorities, however, have re-peatedly denied involvement in the attack.

"I feel outrage and disappointment at the silence and inaction of the international community, namely President Obama and the UN, who had given explicit and solemn pledges for the safety and security of the residents of Ashraf and [Hurriya]," Ms Barouti said on Sunday. "My mother is paying the price of their failure . . . possibly with her life." The "idleness of the US and UN" was "paving the way for more attacks against us", she said.

Now aged 29, Miss Barouti was sent from Iraq to the UK after the Gulf War broke out in 1990, before being reunited with her mother at Camp Ashraf. She has lived at Camp Hurriya for a year.

 

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