By Ahmad Rahbar
This is the story of those who have appointments with death instead of doctors.
I never thought one day he would be the victim of an inhumane siege, he who had been named the angel of rescue. Due to his fluent Arabic and English, and working with patients for years establishing deep humane relationships, he had become very warm and beloved for them. On that notorious day when Behruz suffered a heart attack, I went looking for him everywhere. When I found him and told him what had happened, he said in a very calm manner that he just needed a few minutes to get ready. He truly got ready, as quickly possible, and we got into the ambulance heading to the camp’s exit gate where Iraqi security forces controlling the camp are stationed. I tried very hard to accompany Behruz and Hossein to the hospital to be there and help, but the Iraqi forces did not allow me and I had no choice but to angrily get out of the ambulance. As the vehicle was distancing, I remembered the first time I saw Behruz in Ashraf when he was telling me how six of his family members had been killed by Khomeini’s fundamentalist Revolutionary Guards. Now, I was worried and praying to God to keep him safe.
I went back to my work when one of my friends suddenly told me to return to the camp’s exit checkpoint quickly and give Hossein the food package! I looked at the clock and I was shocked… how could it be? It was 11 am and the ambulance was still there. They had delayed at the camp’s checkpoint for four hours? I began losing control because of the extreme anger. I couldn’t believe the Iraqi agents at the gate had delayed a patient for this long while he had suffered a heart attack just waiting there… This was truly unthinkable and I couldn’t even think about this much cruelty!! I finally reached the gate and gave Hossein the package. I saw him smiling as always and he was very calm. But I was very angry and upset .The moment he saw me he said, “I don’t know what they want from us. Wherever in the world that you have a patient they facilitate your efforts so the problems of the patients are resolved more quickly. But here, when we want to take a heart attack patient to a hospital they delay us so long, as if these people don’t understand anything about humanity”.
I tried to calm him down but it was no use.
“If the patient dies right now, who is going to be held accountable?” he asked. “They know very well that when they delay a heart patient and don’t allow him/her exit the camp to reach a doctor, the patient will easily lose his/her life, and that is exactly what they want. When they were unable to annihilate us in their attacks against Camp Ashraf, when they failed to force us to succumb to the religious fascist mullahs, they resort to such methods of forcing our patients to suffer.”
I don’t how long they were delayed there but when I was returning to my office I was thinking will Behruz be the 7th victim of his family?!
The next day I saw Hossein and asked about Behruz. His answers shocked me.
“When we reached the hospital after the initial diagnosis and seeing the electrocardiogram the doctor said Behruz must be taken to the CCU because of his already dire conditions. However, the Iraqi agent did not allow him to be hospitalized and emphasized on the patient returning to the camp, while the doctor stressed this would most definitely lead to his death. However, the agent had his orders and prevented him from being hospitalized. Finally, becoming very angry of this behavior, Hossein called the United Nations office in Iraq (UNAMI) and informed one of the officials in charge of Camp Liberty’s affairs about the case of this patient. That night, with UNAMI interfering, the Iraqi army intelligence agent forgoes on returning the patient to Liberty. However, the next day they did exactly that, returning Behruz from the hospital without his treatment being completed. Two days later a horrific sentence that had passed through my mind in utter disbelief became a reality. A harsh reality that has been repeated 22 times to this day!! Yes, two days later I heard that Behruz’s heart could no longer tolerate all this pressure and psychological torture. He became the seventh victim of his family who sacrificed his life for the freedom of his nation.
The policy of atrocity and fundamentalism brings nothing for humanity but death, more death, and destruction. A few months later it was Hossein’s turn, the same angel who looked after all those patients, was now trapped in this inhumane medical siege on Camp Liberty. It was another devious day in Camp Liberty when I heard of Hossein Barzmehri’s brain stroke. I immediately went to see him. I couldn’t take it anymore to lose him too, but it was out of my control that this vicious and fundamentalist mentality – shown in completely inhumane measures – had taken its toll. This time it was me watching him losing his life due to the same medical siege, obstructions and delays caused by delaying his transfer to a hospital. He lost his life in a so-called clinic in this Liberty prison that lacks even the basic supplies needed for an urgent patient. This was a man that had tried so hard and saved so many lives.
Today, as I am writing these lines, Behruz Rahimian and Hossein Barzmehri have both suffered heart attacks and lost their lives due to delays caused in their transfer to a hospital. If this siege on Liberty continues as it is, the number of victims will only increase and I will lose even more friends.
Those with this approach rely on their hatred and may actually feel good in the death of a freedom fighter. However, it is truly certain that those freedom fighters who have chosen this path knew very well all the dangers before them in their struggle. I had heard this many times from Behruz and Hossein: “For human dignity it is necessary to take steps in a struggle against extremism and fundamentalism, what we started over 30 years ago to build a better future for our children and generations to come. When they look back on us they will know that we fought with all our might for democracy and freedom, and we did not succumb to the mentality of the darkness that fears the values of freedom and democracy.”
Former political prisoner in Khomeini’s dungeons
Currently detained in “Liberty” Prison – Iraq