By Abdollah, Camp Liberty resident
Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, has described Camp Liberty, a refugee camp in Iraq, as a “killing field” and rather a “concentration camp”. This was after the camp was subject to a rocket attack that claimed the lives of another two of its residents. Giuliani was speaking at an international conference in Paris in support of the Iranian resistance.
Giuliani used the word “killing field” to protest the loss of the residents against the promise they had been given that they would be protected. The fact is no “killing” can take place before his rights are disregarded. To continue Mayor Giuliani’s words we should say that Camp Liberty, before anything else, is a “killing field “and a “concentration camp” for the laws and the basic human rights.
Senator Robert Torricelli, the residents’ lawyer, was not the first, nor the last, to not get permission to visit the camp. The government of Iraq has surrounded the camp by high T walls and permits only its agents to enter the camp. Iraq’s Prime Minister does not wish people to find out about what is happening inside the camp.
No single law is respected within the walls of this camp, ironically named “camp Liberty”, which the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions has called a prison. The promises given by the Iraqi authorities or the United Nations were just a sort of “laissez passer” to put behind the former procedures. They were used to deceive the residents to accept their compulsory displacement to “Liberty”. Residents are not allowed movement out of the camp, not even to go to doctor or hospital. The Iraqi clinic inside the camp lacks the proper basic medical equipment and due to the medical siege imposed to the residents they are not allowed to go freely to the hospitals in Baghdad.
These misconducts against the residents are complemented by an economic embargo imposed on them by the same Iraqi agents who participated in the massacres in Ashraf. While all necessities such as food, fuel for the generators, medicine, etc…, are purchased by the residents, but they are stopped at the main gate. The Iraqis keep the shipments for a few days before they allow the residents to take them in. Sometimes the goods do not get into the camp and in fact are confiscated by the Iraqi forces.
Lawyers and journalists not aligned with the government of Iraq – as well as the families of the residents – are not allowed to enter the camp. All the residents carry a “Protected Person” card that the US government issued to them. This is their status recognized by the Fourth Geneva Convention. Nevertheless, none of their fundamental rights are respected. The Iraqi government has officially declared that it does not recognize any status for the residents of Camp Liberty. This, of course, is the pretext they use to continue persecuting the residents. People with no legal status, in fact, are not qualified to have a secure accommodation with proper infrastructures. They have no rights whatsoever. Obviously, they cannot be taken to hospital and have to be left to die in pain. Medical embargo on the residents of camp Liberty has so far taken the lives of 15 of them.
A statement from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has officially recognized the residents of Camp Liberty as asylum seekers. It is almost two years the camp has been named as “Temporarily Transit Location”, but there is no sign of the promised relocation yet. So far, only less than 10% of the residents have been transferred to other countries.
Colonel Sadiq Kazem, the camp administrator, is under the command of “Falih Fayaz”, the Iraqi Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor, recently indicted by the Spanish Court on charges of crimes committed on September 1st massacre in Camp Ashraf, in which 52 people were brutally murdered and 7 others abducted. Colonel Sadiq himself is on the wanted list of the same court. He is charged for the assault and the murder of the residents of Camp Ashraf. Nevertheless, He still holds his position as Camp Liberty’s administrator. He is leading all the misconducts and the embargo imposed on the residents.
Meanwhile, what completes this “killing field” is the silence and inaction by those who actually should be the first safeguards of these laws. The US government and Mr. Obama seem to have no time to deal with trivial matters such as the human rights of Liberty residents. Mr. Ban Ki Moon and other UN officials are so excelsior not to waste their time on this issue. At the same time, thousands of parliamentarians, members of Congress, senators, and military and legal personalities, are calling on them to break their silence on what is happening at “Liberty”.
Nazis in Hitler Germany used to keep their condemned prisoners in “concentration camps”. The residents of those camps bore no legal status. They were even deprived to care about their own family members. They had to remain in those camps until they were fed to the “human furnaces”. It is hard these days to find any law or signed agreement in Camp Liberty that is not awarded to the “furnace” of silence and inaction.
Indeed, although far away from Nazi Germany in time and place, modern “concentration camps” still continue to burn the books of laws. Hail to freedom loving dignitaries like Rudy Giuliani who raise their voices against lawlessness.