Iraq: Iranian Dissidents in Camp Liberty Protest Against Inhuman Siege

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Early this week, scores of Camp Liberty residents, near Baghdad International Airport, home to thousands of Iranian dissidents, took part in a protest against the camp’s deteriorating living conditions. The present inhumane condition of the camp is the result of the recent rise in restriction to acquirement of camp infrastructure repair & maintenance necessities imposed by the Iraqi forces loyal to the Iranian regime, who control the camp.

As Iraq furnace-like summer records high degrees, in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the month of fasting and worship, residents rallied in a medium-width gravel paved vehicle passage so called camp’s main “Street” to show their discontent about the living conditions.

Despite clear precision in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by UNAMI and the Government of Iraq (GOI), regarding residents’ right to purchase and deliver all life necessities to camp, in recent weeks Iraqi forces have imposed new arbitrary prevention measures on entering life necessities and sanitary vehicles that discharge the camp sewage.

One participant in the rally said: “Preventing repair of sanitary vehicles will cause severe health threats to us as result of septic overflow. There are not enough sewage tankers to handle the septic.”

Connection of the camp’s sewage system to the municipal sewage network has been a long standing residents’ dispute by Camp management.

Another protester said: “It is not bearable to stay in the trailers, let alone to have any rest in this summer heat. When generators are not running to their capacity, there is no Air conditioning, our room’s over 47 degrees (Celsius), in this hot weather of Ramadan.” Not connected to the national grid, camp electricity is totally powered through generators. Malfunctions of generators due to needed spare parts, directly would have an effect on HVAC malfunctioning, resulting in intolerable living conditions for residents.

One resident explained: “By the orders of the Iraqi Committee Tasked to suppress the residents which are controlled by Iraqi National Security Advisor Faleh Fayyad, the Iraqi forces refuse to give us our goods, which they have stopped at the gate. Spare parts for the camp’s ice-making machines are among the items held up that we badly need in the hot weather and during the month of Ramadan.”

According to the protestors, obstruction of basic life-support requirements is a violation of humanitarian and human rights standards, as well as many international covenants, and a criminal act meriting prosecution.

The protesters in Camp Liberty demanded an immediate stop to these prison-like conditions and arbitrary conduct of GOI forces loyal to the Mullahs’ regime in the camp. They called on the U.S. government and United Nations for urgent action on this recent issue. UNAMI and UNHCR should rise to their duties based on the MOU and intervene immediately to alleviate the situation and to improve the camp residents’ living conditions.

The residents have also “called on the United Nations and the U.S. government that have repeatedly and in writing committed themselves to the wellbeing and security of Camp Liberty residents, as well as the European Union and its member states, to adopt immediate measures to end this antihuman siege.”

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.