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Iran Allows Red Cross to Visit POWs After Two Year Break

October 29, 1986

GENEVA (AP) _ A senior Iranian official said Tuesday his government will let Red Cross officials resume the visits to Iraqi prisoners of war that were suspended two years ago after a prison camp riot.

Sirus Naseri, a director in the Iranian Foreign Ministry and delegate to the world Red Cross conference, said visas had been granted for the visits. Resumption was possible, he said, because a ″political problem″ between Iran and the International Committee of the Red Cross had been resolved.

Under the Geneva conventions, all nations in conflict are committed to let Red Cross representatives check conditions in POW camps. Iran and Iraq have been at war since September 1980.

Iran closed the camps to the Red Cross in October 1984 after the International Committee said its delegates saw six Iraqi prisoners shot by Iranian guards during a riot at the Korcan camp.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s regime accused the committee of distorting information and said the men died in fights between rival groups of prisoners.

Naseri told a news conference visas were issued Tuesday for new delegates to join the few still in Tehran ″so that they have enough staff in order to resume the visits of the camps.″

″I believe once the delegates go to Tehran the visits will begin immediately,″ he said. Iran’s refusal to permit camp visits was included in a long list of human rights violations in various parts of the world that the international organization’s president, Alexandre Hay, read to the conference on Monday.

The report contrasted Iran’s restrictions since 1984 with a ″steady improvement″ in the last few years in Iraq’s observance of the Geneva conventions.

Iraq claims Iran holds 60,000 prisoners while Iraq has only 12,000-13,000. The Red Cross says its representatives visit camps in Iraq regularly.

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