secretary of state in his farewell remarks in the C Street Lobby, regarding the relocation of MEK members mentioned the following words.
“…And one of the things that I am very proud of is the effort we made – I remember going to hearing after hearing, and you remember all those folks you’d see up there in those yellow jackets representing the Mujahedin-e Khalq – MEK as we’ve known them – and we got 3,000 of them out of Camp Liberty and to places where they are safe and their lives are saved from being attacked regularly, as they were. I thank Jonathan Winer, our special envoy, and others for that kind of effort. It’s been enormous.”
By Bahador Kiamarzi, hunger striker in camp Liberty and victim of Human Rights violation in Iran
The White House symbolizes the struggle of the American people for freedom, democracy and independence. Years ago, from this edifice, Abraham Lincoln courageously led the struggle for the abolition of slavery. Before that, during the independence war, the occupying forces burned it down to wipe it out from memories. But centuries later, it still stands.
On November 1, 2013, President Obama will be hosting a man in the White House. His name is Nouri Al-Maliki.
Allow me to tell you a bit about myself. This isn’t a story; neither is it a memory or a tragic novel. It is the stark truth that not only I, but thousands and millions of my fellow compatriots in Iran face in their everyday lives.
I wasn’t born in a hospital – I came to this world in the dark cells of one of the most notorious prisons in today’s world: Evin Prison, Tehran; my parents were arrested in 1982 for having supported the PMOI.
I never saw my father, save for brief seconds on a windy autumn day. We never got to know each other. He was executed along with thirty thousand political prisoners in the summer of 1988. My mother spent 8 years in prison. I myself spent the first years of my life behind bars. I was released at the age of four, only after much effort by my grandfather.
I still remember the day when my mother was being taken for interrogation to the torture chambers. She knew where she was being taken, so she left me with my aunt. A female jailer, whose face I still remember, grabbed my hand and violently threw me on the ground. I ran to my mother crying, and embraced her. I thought the circle of her arms was the safest place in the world, oblivious of her destination.
I was pushed along with my mother to the torture chambers. It was a dark a cold cell. They violently separated me from her. I repeatedly called out her name while I watched her being dragged and strapped to a bed. I frantically tried to reach her, but the guards kept pushing me back. And then I heard a thin and terrible noise and saw the torturers lash the soles of her feet. I broke into tears from hearing her cries of pain. I wanted to help her out but there was nothing I could do; my tiny frame was no match for the hulking prison guards.
It was only after they were done torturing her that they let me go to her. Her feet were bleeding. It was the first time in my life that I was seeing blood – I was terrified. But still, when she took me into her arms, I calmed down I there was no other place in the world that I’d rather be.
In the years that followed, I went through the same experience many times. For years, the image of my mother being tortured filled my dreams.
Later, when I was released from prison, I would distance myself from the other kids; seeing them with their parents only emphasized the absence of mine.
This is just a glimpse of the realities of my country. I would never give in to living in such a state. When I grew up, like thousands of other young Iranians, I found my answer in coming to Camp Ashraf, Iraq, the beacon of hope for the Iranian people.
In Ashraf, we were attacked by Maliki’s forces on many accounts. To this day, more than a hundred of my friends have been murdered by the Iraqi forces. All of them had life experiences resembling mine, and they had come to Ashraf to fulfill their dreams of freedom. More than a thousand others have been injured in these attacks, including myself.
The United Nations and the United States asked us to move to Camp Liberty. The US Secretary of State told us that our security would be guaranteed in Liberty. But Camp Liberty ended up becoming a prison and worse, a killing field, and three deadly rocket attacks have left in their wake ten martyrs and scores of injured.
And now, after the horrible massacre at Camp Ashraf on September 1st, in which 52 of my friends were murdered by Maliki’s forces and seven others were taken hostage, we have gone on hunger strike to have our voice heard by the White House: Free the seven hostages and provide camp Liberty’s security. We are now in the third month of our hunger strike.
But now, instead of having our voices heard and echoed in the White House, the man who is responsible for the crimes in camp Ashraf is to be welcomed in this building, which has become America’s symbol of freedom and independence.
Is this not an insult to the struggles of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and all of the American people?
I am one of the hundreds of Camp Liberty residents who, along with other Iranians across the world, are on hunger strike voicing protest against the brutal massacre that Iraqi forces conducted against the residents of Camp Ashraf on September 1st, killing 52 and abducted seven others.
We were abandoned in the hands of Iraqi forces when the US entrusted our security to Iraqi government. It was a clear violation of obligations, because US had already promised us that it would provide our protection. Since then, the Iraqi government staged 5 massacres against us, innocent refugees who had fled Iran and the mullahs’ atrocities 26 years ago and had come to Ashraf, seeking a peaceful life.
Since we began our hunger strike, we have been asked many times about why we’ve made that decision, whether such a course of action is logical, or isn’t there any other option. The answer becomes clear when one reviews the facts and realities that surround our situation.
We have been attacked by the Iraqi forces on five accounts as a direct result of US and UN’s failure in fulfilling their commitments, the last one being the horrible September 1, 2013 massacre. 112 innocent human beings have lost their lives in these attacks. Seven hostages, six of whom are women, are still in the custody of Al-Maliki’s government and face the threat of extradition to Iran. The rest of us, currently residing in Camp Liberty, are under the constant threat of missile attacks and raids by Iraqi forces. Yet the US and UN continue to remain indifferent.
After being betrayed by those who had given their word to protect your life, then life itself becomes be the last means to have your voice heard. After having become subject to all these crimes and betrayals, the question is, “What is to be done?”
The answer is clear. I have to endanger my life to wake the international community from its slumber. The US and UN are responsible for anything that befalls the hostages or the hunger strikers.
As an Iranian who spent many years in US as a college student, my message to president Obama is, “How much more innocent blood is must be shed for you to change your failed course of action?
“I call on President Obama to honor the values that the pioneers of your nation fought for and make the right decision. Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, whom you’ve invited to the White House, is responsible for the death of my colleagues and is holding the hostages in his custody. Refrain from accepting him in your office before the hostages are released. Not doing so will give him and the mullahs in Iran the cue to stage further massacres against us.
“If any further killings happen in Liberty, the Iranian people never forgive you. Take my word: history never makes mistake, it is the best judge. History has already judged Neville Chamberlain, the UK Prime Minister, who shook hands with Hitler and, in consequence, fifty million people lost their lives.
“How will history judge you, President Obama?”
Hameed Orayzi, resident of Camp Liberty, was a student in Louisiana State University (LSU) medical school before deciding to join the PMOI in the struggle for freedom, a choice he made after becoming aware of the suppression and mass executions carried out by the mullahs ruling Iran.
Statement by OMCT regarding Camp Liberty protection and seven Camp Ashraf hostages
Press Release – For immediate release
Brussels- 29 October 2013
It has gone 58 days since the criminal attack on Camp Ashraf north of Baghdad when 52 defenceless Iranian refugees were savagely executed by Iraqi Special Forces under command of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on 1 September and seven more including six women were taken hostage. A UN report noted that many victims had been handcuffed before being shot in the head. Wounded refugees were finished-off with coup de graces in the camp’s clinic.
While evidence footage, witness accounts and technical data leave absolutely no doubt that Iraqi government was directly involved in this criminal attack which involved hundreds of uniformed Iraq soldiers, two hours of shootings and explosions in a camp that was surrounded and protected 24/7 by Iraqi forces, Maliki has astonishingly claimed to have no knowledge at all of who committed the crime or where the hostages have been taken!
According to reliable reports, the hostages who are being held in Baghdad, have been interrogated and tortured.
The European Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on 10 October urging “the immediate and unconditional release” of the Ashraf hostages by Iraq. Last week over 150 members of the European Parliament, including 6 vice-presidents called on EU’s leadership “to make Iraq fulfil this demand.”
For the past 58 days, Iranian families and supporters of Camp Ashraf residents have been on hunger strike in many cities of the world including London, Berlin, Geneva, Melbourne, Ottawa and in Camp Liberty. They insist to continue their protest until the seven hostages from Camp Ashraf are released and safely returned to their families and friends and until the protection of the 3000 refugees in camp liberty from further attacks by Iraq is guaranteed by the UN.
US President is set to meet with Maliki in the White House on 1st November 2013. The World Organisation Against Torture – European Office (OMCT-Europe) calls on President Obama not to meet with a murderer and a kidnapper who has been indicted by Spanish court for his previous crimes against Iranian refugees in Iraq.
Unless Maliki releases the seven hostages and allows an independent international investigation to be conducted into the 1 September massacre and previous killings by Iraqi forces, any meeting would damage Obama’s credibility on human rights and tarnish the Peace prize that he received in the beginning of his first term.
The EU should also play its role. The lack of action by High Representative Baroness Ashton and by her External Action Services to release the hostages in Iraq is regretful. EU should also call for a peacekeeping force to protect the remaining 3000 asylum-seekers and refugees at Camp Liberty from further attacks by Iraqi forces until they are moved to safe countries.
The humanitarian crisis surrounding the dangerous and critical situation of residents of Camp Liberty continues, with hundreds of them being on hunger strike since September 1st.
The upcoming visit of Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, from Washington, DC, and his meeting with President Obama scheduled for November 1 only aggravates the situation.
Nearly two months have passed from the day the Iraqi forces attacked Camp Ashraf. On September 1st, they savagely murdered 52 of the defenseless residents of the camp. In the course of the same attack, the assailants abducted seven of the camp’s residents – including six women. Reliable documents and accounts given by eyewitnesses at the scene indicate that the attack was conducted by Iraqi forces who were acting upon the orders of the Iraqi Prime Minister and at the behest of the Iranian regime.
Documents obtained from inside Iran clearly prove that the seven hostages are in Iraq, in prisons controlled by Nouri al-Maliki. The Iraqi government is constantly denying the facts and has deceived the international community – particularly the United States and United Nations, who are responsible for the protection of the residents of the camp and especially the seven hostages.
On October 10, the European Parliament passed a resolution about “Recent Violence in Iraq”, in which it strongly condemned the September 1st attack on Ashraf. According to Ms. Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union, there is reason to believe that the seven hostages are being kept in Baghdad and the parliament calls for their immediate and unconditional release.
Of the assurances and guarantees given by the United States officials and the United Nations regarding the protection of the residents, none have been fulfilled to date.
In protest, since September 1st, hundreds of Camp Liberty residents are on hunger strike, demanding the immediate release of the seven hostages and the provision of Camp Liberty’s security by UN Blue Helmets. The second month of their hunger strike is coming to a close and their health conditions are deteriorating at an accelerating pace.
The issue is not solely a humanitarian one. Senator Robert Menendez, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. Senate told Under Secretary of State Ms. Wendy Sherman, who had been attending a Senate hearing on October 3, that if the security of Camp Liberty residents isn’t provided and the hostages are not released, the Senate will be reconsidering its aid to the Iraqi government. There have been similar calls by European Parliament in a recent resolution.
The residents of Liberty on hunger strike call on President Obama to stay true to his word and fulfill the promises of protection. They believe that Obama must put pressure on the Iraqi government for the freedom of the seven hostages before allowing Maliki to step foot inside the White House.