by Hanif Garmabi, resident of camp Liberty, Iraq
I will never forget the morning of September 1, 2013, when I turned on the TV and learned that Iraqi forces had attacked camp Ashraf again. It was Sunday, 7:30am. The first thing that came to my mind was that my parents were both in Ashraf.
I had had first-hand experience with the savagery of Maliki’s forces in the two raids that they had conducted against Ashraf in July 2009 and April 2011, thus I thought I knew what atrocities were to be expected in this new assault.
What I later learned, to my dismay, was far worse that what I had imagined.
A crime against humanity was taking place in Ashraf, and my parents were in the midst of it. Their memories flashed back before my eyes, from childhood to August 29, 2012, when I last saw them. My mind went back to my last encounter with my father. As we embraced and said our farewells, he assured me that he wouldn’t be far behind and would join us all in Camp Liberty as soon as he was able to sell the property. Both my parents had stayed to guard the property of the residents of Ashraf and to put them on sale to be able to pay for the many expenses that we had in Camp Liberty.
I had no reason to believe that their lives were in danger. After all, they were staying there based on an agreement we had with the United States, United Nations, and the Iraqi government, which set no limitation to the duration of their stay.
Never did I think that I wouldn’t see them again. As I was struggling to control the feeling of anguish that was welling up inside me, the television announced the names of the victims of the attack. Every person that was declared dead added to my pain, bringing back memories of countless years of having lived and worked together. Rahman, Amir, Saeed, Hassan … people who had been like brothers to me had all been murdered.
And then I heard one name that turned me cold inside: Abbas Garmabi. My father. My mind failed to process the news for a while, as if it was refusing to register my father’s death. And then a profound feeling of pain and sorrow settled in my heart. The worst had come to pass.
Later, I learned that, during the raid, the assailants had entered the camp’s clinic to wipe out any who had remained alive. Nine wounded people were savagely murdered while they lay on stretchers and beds.
My father was one of them. He was shot in the head while he had been lying down on a bed, awaiting medical treatment. His blood had trickled down the side of the bed and gathered in a puddle on the ground. I couldn’t bear watching the scene. Such brutality was unprecedented.
One question overruled all others in my mind: why weren’t the UN and United States doing anything to stop the carnage? Hadn’t they made pledges to protect the residents of Ashraf? Why were they closing their eyes to the atrocities that the Iraqi government was committing?
It wasn’t the end of it; it was later declared that the Iraqi forces had abducted seven of the camp’s residents. My mother’s name was among them. Zahra Ramezany. Could it get any worse? As I was looking at the pictures of victims of the massacre, all savagely murdered by being shot in the head and upper body, I didn’t dare contemplate on the fate of the hostages.
The only thing I know is that she is still alive and she is in the hands of the Iraqi forces. Maliki is intending to surrender the seven hostages to Iran, where they will be promptly executed by the vicious dictatorship of the mullahs.
I have decided to go on hunger strike along with other residents of camp Liberty, my only means to draw attention to the ordeal of my mother and the other hostages and to help rescue them from the clutches of the Maliki government. We demand that the Iraqi government immediately releases the seven hostages. The United States and United Nations must intervene and put pressure on the Iraqi government to release the hostages without further delay. They are responsible for the safety and security of my mother and the other hostages.
I call on all those who read this article to help me in my plight. Maliki has already murdered my father; do not let him kill my mother as well. Call for the immediate release of the hostages.
Hanif Garmabi is one of the hunger strikers in camp Liberty. He calls on UN and US and other relevant international human rights organization to put pressure on Iraqi government for the immediate release of his mother.
Video posted on YouTube by Hanif: