On 28 July 2009, around 1000 Iraqi security personnel entered Camp Ashraf, the demilitarized camp of the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) in Iraq. Several PMOI members were killed and several hundred wounded. US forces had been surrounding the camp providing protection for seven years from the time they took control of the camp in 2003 until January 2009. During this period the United States repeatedly asserted that the camp's inhabitants were "protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions, even though, in the view of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the conflict ceased to be international in nature on 28 June 2004. Amnesty International also issued public statements in 2008 and 2009, stating that the PMOI remained "protected persons' under international humanitarian law. On 26 November 2009 the Audiencia Nacional of Spain also ruled that Ashraf residents are "protected persons' under the Fourth Geneva Convention. This article explores the potential legal bases of these assertions. If there are sound bases for asserting the "protected person' status of the PMOI after 28 June 2004, these may have implications beyond the political particularities of the United States' relationship with Iran, to the benefit of other former "protected persons' in the ongoing armed conflicts that have ceased to be formally international, in particular for refugees and for detainees.
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