Iraq: Iranian Dissidents Condemn Human Rights Violations in Camp Liberty

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Following a mandatory migration to a new camp in 2012, not by sectarian militants, but under a joint UNAMI, US, and Iraqi government plan from Camp Ashraf where the residents had built their home for the past 26 years, international laws compel the US government and UN to protect these refugees.

The Obama administration ignored its obligations and left residents at the mercy of Nouri Maliki, the previous Iraqi government allied fully with the Iranian regime, to be hunted down and killed in cold blood.

The new camp, ironically named “Liberty,” has now been transformed into a prison for these dissidents as Iraqi forces loyal to the Iranian regime are in control of this camp. By taking advantage of the current insecurity in the country, the Iraqis are imposing a severe crackdown on the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) members, all at Tehran’s behest.

Obama’s War On Women

It is also worth noting that a third of the dissidents in Camp Liberty are women.

In January, the medical siege on Camp Liberty, allowed to continue by continued inaction by the UN and US, claimed the life of its 23rd victim, Ms. Mahin Afzali. [ Medical Siege Claims Life Of Ms. Mahin Afzali ]

Ten days later, a group of women in Camp Liberty held a protest rally condemning the plundering of their property by Iraqi forces and militants linked to the Iranian regime. They called on the United Nations and US government to act based on their legal and moral commitments given to the residents to transfer their remaining property from Ashraf to Camp Liberty and make arrangements for their selling. [ Camp Liberty Women Launch Protest ]

Camp Liberty residents protest as UN vehicles pass by without stopping
Camp Liberty residents protest as UN vehicles pass by without stopping

Why Does Iran Want To Kill These Refugees?

The PMOI is the main opposition force facing the mullahs’ regime and they were the ones that blew the whistle on the Iranian regime’s clandestine nuclear weapons program. Until then no one had any information about the Iranian regime’s dangerous plans aimed at obtaining the mother of all bombs. Last week, PMOI representatives in Washington once again unveiled a new top secret nuclear site named Lavizan-3, southeast of Tehran. This revelation came at a time when the mullahs are at the negotiating table with the P5+1 and they had kept this site hidden from the international community.

Exposing this undisclosed area while we are nearing a March deadline to reach a nuclear agreement between the West and the Iranian regime has made the mullahs – seeking to deceive the international community and obtain nuclear weapons – extremely angry. Thus, they will resort to any efforts to eliminate their opposition and place this high on their immediate agenda. While the Iranian regime is pressuring and severely harassing Camp Liberty residents’ families and relatives inside the country, an all-out logistical and medical siege, prison-making measures and psychological pressures on Camp Liberty residents is being imposed by Tehran proxies in the Iraqi government.

The main goal of this regime through these pressures is to annihilate the Iranian Resistance epicenter that inspires the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism throughout the region.

Camp Liberty is surrounded by 4-meter tall cement “T-walls” and those responsible for the protection of this camp have actually time and again been involved in bloody attacks against these residents, leaving hundreds murdered and over 1,200 injured between 2009 to this day.

The UNHCR recognized the camp residents as “people of concern.” According to the 4th Geneva Convention and international covenants, until the transfer of all residents to safe countries abroad, the US and UN are responsible for the protection, security and daily monitoring of all human rights and international humanitarian laws being fully implemented for the residents.

However, given the silence and inaction seen from the UN and US government in the face of the commitment violations and human rights breaches in this camp by Iraqi forces, the residents are now extremely concerned about further attacks and more massacres in the near future. However, despite the daily pressures imposed, the residents are continuing their daily protests against the crackdown and prison-making conditions imposed in this camp. Camp Liberty was planned to be a “temporary transit location” for the residents prior to settlement outside of Iraq.

However, three years after their transfer to Camp Liberty, not only is there no prospect of resettlement, in fact comprehensive sieges and limitations imposed by the Iraqi security forces are on the rise on a daily basis.

US and UN Abrogate Their Reponsibility

“The US government and UN have moral and legal obligations regarding our security and protection in this camp,” a woman in the camp said. She also demanded UNAMI remain loyal to its agreements and obligations vis-a-vis Camp Liberty residents.

“We left our homes in Ashraf under guarantees provided by the US and UNAMI,” another resident said. “Who is responsible and held accountable for the breaches of commitments and agreements about Camp Liberty residents, and we are demanding an end to this silence. This inhumane siege on the camp must also come to an end.”

A UNAMI monitoring team entered the camp to be in the area for a few short hours. Their vehicles passed through the protesting residents lined up in the camp’s main road holding placards. Through such rallies the residents try to express their protests from behind the tall and thick cement walls separating “Liberty” prison from the outside world.

Camp Liberty, a military base near the Baghdad International Airport abandoned by the US military in their withdrawal from Iraq, houses thousands of Iranian dissidents considered “protected persons” under the 4th Geneva Convention. That “protected persons” status does them little good because the UN ignores its obligations and turns a blind eye when atrocities occur. The US and UN then cry crocodile tars and assert “outrage” at the murderous events.

Shahriar Kia is a member of the Iranian opposition (PMOI /MEK). He is a human rights activist and political analyst on Iran and the Middle East.