By Arman Nafissi, hunger striker in Camp Liberty

Following the massacre of Iranian dissidents by Maliki’s forces in Iraq, the West has in practice joined voice with Baghdad

Before I became 20 and joined the ranks of the Iranian opposition members against the religious autocracy ruling my country, I had already spent two thirds of my life in France. Even right now I know more about French history than that of my own country, Iran. From these ups and downs that I learned the values of ‘freedom’, ‘equality’ and ‘brotherhood’, and I understood that these words are what a man must pay the price for to reach such values.

Therefore, with that shape of mind was that l learned of the first wave of massacres by Khomeini in the 1980s against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. That was when I decided to join the ranks of the Iranian dissidents and the struggle for freedom.

Again at the age of 20, when I proudly viewed myself as a freedom fighter, I thought that we Iranians must go a long distance to reach the degree of freedom visions in a country such as France. In those years France was under the Mitterrand government and humane principles still had the upper hand over French politics.

Today, 30 years has passed since being 20 years old. In these 30 years I had passed the Chirac period. I saw how those who I thought should be the symbols of freedom visions actually attacked, beat and detained Iranian dissidents in 1987 and 2003, in order to maintain France’s trade with the rulers in Tehran.

Then I actually experienced being stabbed in the back by the US. I saw how a country, symbolized by the Statue of Liberty, in 2003 they bombed us and killed 50 Iranian dissidents. Then when US military commanders admitted that bombing Iranian dissidents was ‘a mistake’, an agreement reached with every one of us, under which we turned over our weapons, and in return the US Army assumed our protection until our final disposition in Iraq or transfer to a third country.

I still have the ‘protected person’ card the Americans gave me. I still remember how an American colonel said in a gathering of Iranian dissidents, “They must pass over our dead bodies to hurt any one of you.”

However, there was no need to pass over their dead bodies. The Americans themselves handed over the protection of Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi Prime Ministry, which was and is completely associated to the mullahs ruling in Tehran, and they reached power with Iranian money.

In five bloody attacks by the Iraqis, they massacred a number of unarmed Iranian dissidents each time. The American version was to express concern and unfortunateness after each killing spree; beautiful words that neither brings back our friends, nor rounds up the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

In the latest attack on September 1st of this year, the method of the carnage used by the Iraqis was much more widespread and barbaric. Iranian dissidents were arrested and executed at point blank range with shots to their heads, necks and faces. Those wounded were put to death on clinic beds. 52 of my colleagues were killed in the attack of Iraqi Prime Ministry special forces on Camp Ashraf. Seven others, including six women, were abducted as hostages in that attack and now, they are in the custody of Iraqi forces. Baghdad neither assumes responsibility over the attack, nor the detention of these seven individuals. Nothing more is expected from Maliki’s government, which is linked to Tehran’s mullahs.

However the American version this time around was that, “It’s not clear who attacked Ashraf”; a version that justifies Maliki’s crimes and encourages him to commit more.

106 days after the abduction of seven of my colleagues in the attack against Ashraf, I and a few hundred of my friends are on hunger strike, demanding the release of the hostages.

In this period of hunger strike that I faced a widespread silence of Western governments and media on this carnage, I remembered time and again the days when I was 20 years old. Has the spirit of freedom died in the West? Or were the images of Eifel Tower and Statue of Liberty nothing but youth’s illusions?