On a large, silver canvas there were pictures of 36 martyrs in wooden frames. The sun, rising behind us in the skies of a new day, was portraying its rays on décor prepared in the ceremony commemorating the fallen martyrs of the April 8th, 2011 attack against Camp Ashraf, located north of Baghdad, Iraq. During Wednesday’s event, held in Camp Liberty, adjacent to Baghdad International Airport, where Camp Ashraf residents are stationed today, I was lost in my memories of the martyrs, especially those whom I knew personally. A deep sense of respect for each and every one of these heroes had engulfed all my spirit.
Through the rows of pictures before me, my eyes fell on the images of Morteza and Behrouz. Before the April 8th attack by the Iraqi forces loyal to the Iranian regime, I had spent the entire night as a lookout alongside Morteza, adjacent to Ashraf’s southern security boundary. We had reports of troop movement by the Iraqis and we couldn’t risk being caught off guard. We were all concerned about the residents and a possible attack against this camp full of refugees, dissidents of the mullahs in Tehran. There were various reports about a number of Iraqi military brigades consisting of special oppressive forces staging widespread maneuvers and preparing to attack us.
“Don’t worry, we won’t let them defeat us,” Morteza said with the utmost determination.
Lost in these thoughts, I suddenly remembered Behrouz, and one of those sweet memories came to mind. He was a singer and artist, and alongside all his other responsibilities, he was known amongst us all as a delightful vocalist. I personally had the highest respect for him, and each time that I heard him sing, he reminded me of freedom for Iran, and how our struggle is focused about liberating our people. It was always very inspiring.
At the end of the ceremony, along with other residents we placed wreaths on the heels of the martyrs’ images, and I placed a one last deep look and finally walked away. On my way back my friend Ahmad, who may have become more emotional than I had in remembering the martyrs’ courageousness on that day, whispered into my ear, “Let us commemorate them. By liberating Iran, we will surely make them delighted in the heavens.”
It has been nearly four decades that there has been an ongoing and fierce battle between the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MeK) and the mullahs’ ruling Iran over our freedom and the Iranian people’s right to govern their own country. The corrupt and terrorist government of Tehran considers the PMOI/MeK as enemy number one, and considering the credibility they enjoy amongst the Iranian people from all walks of life, the PMOI/MeK in Iraq have been the target of the mullahs’ attacks through rocket barrages and other terrorist means.
The residents in Camp Liberty, considered “persons of concern” by the United Nations, have to this day been the aim of four rocket barrages by Iran-backed proxies in Iraq. Dozens of these residents have been killed and scores more left injured, as they also suffer living under an intense blockade imposed by elements in the Iraqi government that remain loyal to Tehran.
Without a doubt, unless there is a specific guarantee provided by the international community to ensure Camp Liberty residents’ safety and security, these Iranian dissidents will continuously be threatened and attacked by Revolutionary Guards proxies in Iraq.