The PMOI, also known as Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), a leftist group formed in Iran in 1965 was one of the groups which took part in the 1979 revolution which ousted the Shah, but soon fell out with Ayatollah Khomeni and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, and after an armed struggle was given refuge across the border in a camp in Iraq by Saddam Hussein.
When the US invaded Iraq they attacked the camp before coming to a ceasefire agreement with the PMOI. They agreed to give up their considerable arms (including 19 Chieftain tanks) and the 5000 PMOI members were given protected persons status by the US under the Fourth Geneva Convention in Camp Ashraf, a refugee camp which was guarded by the US military. The PMOI also became the main party in the Iranian parliament in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is based in Paris. Neither the EU nor the US now regard the PMOI as a terrorist group.
When the US withdrew from Iraq the camp was transferred to Iraqi control. Since then there have been several major attacks by Iraqi security forces. The first in July 2009, killed 11 and injured over 500, with 36 being arrested, and only released near to death after an extended hunger strike. Further attacks came in October 2010, January 2011 and April 2011, when 36 were killed and 320 injured. On Feb 9, 2013 the camp was attacked by mortars and rocket, with at least 7 deaths. The PMOI appealed to the US and the UN Secretary General for help, but with no effect.
The invasion by Iraqi forces ordered by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Mailki on 1 Sept left 52 of the PMOI dead, and seven were taken as prisoners. They are still held in the Baghdad Green Zone in Iraq despite calls by a hundred Iraqi MPs for their release.
The hunger strike in a camp in front of the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, London is one of several organised by the PMOI, including at Camp Ashraf and by Iranians in Geneva, Berlin, Ottawa, Melbourne and London. It was the US who guaranteed their safety and gave them protected persons status, and so they hold the US responsible for protecting them. They also argue that the US is the major backer of the Iraqi regime and urge them and the UN to make urgent representations for the release of the prisoners.
This was the 96th day of the hunger strike, and there were five women who were lying in beds, although others and the several men on hunger strike were still sitting up and walking around. They all welcomed a visit from Brian Binley, Conservative MP for Northampton South, who talked to each of them briefly and brought them flowers. Several showed him some of the many photographs they have around, some of them of those who have been killed or injured, as well as pictures of their family members. After he had spoken to all those on hunger strike, a rally began and he spoke about the injustice and the lack of interest shown by many politicians both in the UK and in other countries to the failure to protect the PMOI and the many deaths and the 7 hostages currently held in Iraq.
After his speech he was presented with a bouquet and the rally continued, but I had to leave.