Broken Pledges come at the Cost of Innocent Lives

By Touba Bozorgmehr, hunger striker in Camp Liberty

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I write these lines, hoping that a freedom-loving soul might hear my call. The realities are much harsher than words can describe.

It is nearly two months that I am on hunger strike along with hundreds of Camp Liberty residents. While flesh melts away from our bones and our health deteriorates at an accelerating pace, we are more determined than ever to continue our hunger strike to free seven of our companions, hostage in the hands of Iraqi security forces.

It might be hard to believe that a human being can go sixty days without eating a bite. But we have pledged to embrace every hardship that we meet in the path to achieve freedom and democracy for the Iranian people, a struggle that we started years ago.

Why are we enduring such suffering and pain? one might ask. The fact is, on September 1st, Iraqi PM Al-Maliki’s forces raided Camp Ashraf at the behest of Iranian regime and brutally murdered 52 of my brothers and sisters. Despite previous warnings by the residents and dignitaries across the world, nothing was done to prevent it. At this very moment, seven other are held hostage in the notorious prisons of the Iraqi government, and their lives are in danger. Again, despite international appeals for their release, nothing has been done to save them.

Truly, who is responsible? A plethora of official documents and written statements, oral pledges and assurance all say that the US and UN were directly responsible for preventing the massacre in camp Ashraf, and are responsible for the safety of the hostages. US and UN both have guaranteed in written documents that they are protecting the residents under the Fourth Geneva Convention and UNHCR considers them as “people of concern” in need of international protection. Why haven’t they done anything so far? What is more important than the lives of innocent human beings? I guess that is a question that President Obama and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must answer.

But what is undeniably evident is that they’ve failed in their commitments to the residents of Ashraf and Liberty: We have been betrayed, and not for the first time. And when we all expected the US government to put pressure on the Iraqi government to release the hostages, we had to hear that Maliki was invited to meet with President Obama in the White House, a definite legitimizer for his previous and future crimes.

Hence the only options that we have left is to either remain silent and allow Maliki’s government to take advantage of US and UN’s idleness to annihilate the rest of us in order to satisfy the Iranian regime; or to go on hunger strike as a last option to have our voices heard.

These crimes must stop. The murder of innocents must stop. These betrayals must stop. And when political interests try to cast a shroud of silence on the atrocities of September 1st and the ongoing injustice regarding the seven hostages and the residents of Camp Liberty, it is only our solidarity that can break the silence and wake these gentlemen from their slumber. That is why I write these lines, hoping those who read it will stand with me to save human lives and restore the dignity and respect of Human Rights.

President Obama must not dishonor the American people by opening the doors of his office to a man who holds seven hostages in his custody and is accountable for the murder of more than a hundred defenseless refugees in Ashraf. President Obama must put pressure on Maliki to release the seven hostages. Not doing so will jeopardize the lives of the remaining residents of Camp Liberty.

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