Ashrafi condemns world silence on Ashraf City massacre

Written by Nosrat Nazari, published by Human Rights Intervention Centre

Nosrat and her brother Amir
Nosrat and her brother Amir

As a singer, I’ve been performing for the Iranian Resistance for more than a decade. I have been interested in the arts ever since my childhood, and when I joined the Resistance, my singing skills became my way of contributing to the struggle for freedom and democracy in my country, Iran. I’m proud to have attended so many concerts and ceremonies in Ashraf City to sing about the suffering of my people and the fight for freedom.

Ashraf was my home for more than a decade before I was forcibly transferred to Camp Liberty in Baghdad along with more than 3,000 other Ashrafis last year. 100 stayed behind to negotiate the sale of our property. My brother, Amir Nazari, was amongst them.

On September 1st, when I heard the news of the Iraqi forces’ attack on Ashraf, I was shocked and worried. Ashraf is a symbol of freedom, a symbol of peace and resistance. Perhaps that is why Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the mullahs ruling Iran couldn’t tolerate it, and decided to rid themselves of the defenceless residents who remained in Ashraf.

Time seemed to slow to a crawl as this horrible incident unravelled, and hearing every new update from the television made the situation more and more difficult to bear. The Iraqi forces ended up killing 52 people and abducting 7 others: six women and a man. One by one, names and pictures of the victims were revealed. One of them was Amir.

The news of his death overwhelmed me. My heart was filled with sorrow, knowing that I would never see my dear brother again. But it was also filled with fury and rage, because the United States and the United Nations had promised to protect him from exactly this fate.

They failed utterly in fulfilling their promises. The image of his death, shot in the back and the head while handcuffed, will forever be etched in my memory.

On the day of the September 1st massacre, I found a new purpose: to raise my voice against this injustice and the abduction of seven of my sisters and brothers. I decided to go on hunger strike, embracing the pain of hunger as a last means to have my voice heard, to bring attention to the plight of the seven hostages and the residents of Camp Liberty.

The lives of the hostages are in grave danger. During the past 51 days, they’ve been under severe torture and interrogation by the savage forces of Maliki and agents of the Iranian regime. Maliki is trying to keep the issue secret in order either to murder them or extradite them to Iran, where they will be further tortured and finally executed by the Iranian regime.

And during all this time, the US and the UN – who were directly responsible for the lives and safety of those seven persons – stood silently by and did nothing to rescue them. Their inaction has left me with no other option than to go on hunger strike.

Finally, I have a few questions for President Obama and the UN – questions that have preoccupied me in recent weeks.

Wasn’t the fifth massacre of the Ashrafis enough to prove to you that Maliki’s intention is not to protect us, but to annihilate us in order to please the Iranian regime? Weren’t the pictures of 52 innocent people, handcuffed and shot in the head while carrying ‘Protected Person’ identity cards in their pockets, enough to persuade you to stop listening to and believing Maliki’s blatant lies?

President Obama and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, I ask you to force Maliki to put an end to his crimes, and to release the seven hostages immediately. Their lives, plus the lives of hunger strikers in Camp Liberty and abroad, are in your hands.

Be true to the promises you made to the Ashrafis. Don’t turn your back on the principles of human rights. History will judge you by your actions. Make the right move while there’s still time.

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