Camp Ashraf Prisoners Released

October 7, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Vahideh Korram-Roudi commemorating the Iranians killed by Iraqi forces in Camp Ashraf during the early days of her hunger strike in front of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa this summer (Samira Bouaou)
Vahideh Korram-Roudi commemorating the Iranians killed by Iraqi forces in Camp Ashraf during the early days of her hunger strike in front of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa this summer (Samira Bouaou)
OTTAWA—It was at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday morning that Korram-Roudi learned that the 36 Iranians arrested during a raid on Camp Ashraf on July 28 had been released from an Iraqi prison and taken to the Ashraf hospital for treatment.

All 36 had been on hunger strike since the day of their captivity, and for the last six days had not even accepted any fluids. While the Iraqi government has not said why they were released, it is believed it is because they were near death.

The Iranian community in Ottawa was jubilant. “We were celebrating today but we don’t know for how long we will feel this way,” said Korram-Roudi.

A group of approximately 10 Iranian-Canadians from Ottawa and Toronto have been on hunger strike in front of the U.S. embassy since the Iraqi army invaded Camp Ashraf. After 48 days they decided to augment the liquids they allowed themselves with protein shakes and juice.

The group, which wants the U.S. army reinstated in Ashraf to protect the residents, has asked to meet with the U.S. Ambassador to Canada three times, including on Monday with a request to the newly appointed ambassador, David Jacobson.

Each time the response was the same: an embassy representative would meet with the group only if they stop their hunger strike and vigil at the embassy. The Iranians refused.

Many of the 36 camp residents were injured when they were arrested and were alllegedly beaten while in prison.

The sister of one of the detainees who is a Canadian citizen asked the Canadian Parliament to see if medical treatment could be arranged for her brother. Although little is known about the arrangements, the woman’s brother was taken to a U.S. hospital and treated for his injuries, after which he was returned to the prison.

There has been no official announcement about why the hostages were released but President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran Maryam Rajavi has been quoted as saying that she believes the Iraqi authorities did not want to be held responsible if the prisoners died.

The hunger strikers in Ottawa say they will maintain their vigil until at least this Sunday. They still want either the U.N. or the U.S. government to step in and protect Ashraf residents from possible further "Iraqi harassment."