Reporters Without Borders reiterates its condemnation of the government’s refusal to let journalists cover its operations in a camp northeast of Baghdad that houses Iranian dissidents. Eight Iraqi journalists working for local and international media were denied entry to Camp Ashraf on 1 August and, the following day, several journalists were detained for four hours and their equipment was temporarily confiscated.
At no time since the start of the Iraqi army’s operations in the camp on 28 July have journalists been allowed into the area to film its operations or to interview families and victims.
“It is clear the Iraqi authorities are ensuring that no reports or images emerge from Camp Ashraf but, in so doing, they are showing they have something to hide,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This situation is unacceptable. The army must allow journalists to do their job in the camp, so that the world can know what is happening there.”
29 July 2009 - Journalists banned from entering camp Ashraf
Reporters Without Borders has condemned the decision by the Iraqi authorities to ban journalists from entering Ashraf camp north-east of Baghdad which houses an exiled Iranian opposition group.
The Iraqi army penetrated the camp on 28 July and at the same time prevented journalists entering, as clashes broke out between the security forces and the camp’s residents.
“The Iraqi authorities should allow journalists to work freely and allow them into Ashraf camp to cover the clashes which have been going on there,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
The camp, situated 120 km west of the Iranian border and 60 km north of the capital, was set up in the 1980s to house the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI).
American forces began disarming them after the US-led invasion in 2003 and since then the 3,500 residents of the camp have been protected under the Geneva Conventions. The camp, which remained under American control from 2003 onwards, was handed over to the Iraqi authorities on 1st January 2009.
Clashes first broke out at the start of the month, leaving a large number of people injured, as the Iraqi authorities tried to set up a police station within the camp itself. The camp residents accused Iraq of trying to do the work of the Iranian authorities for them.
Several witnesses said that journalists had been forced to stop at the gates of the camp.