By Amir Rezaei, hunger striker in Camp Liberty
Don’t read this article! Instead, go ahead and follow more important events that are taking place around the world: the newest fashion trends, latest music albums, or the upcoming World Cup. This article is about violation of Human Rights, about human lives at stake, which seem to have lost meaning and value these days.
I write these paragraphs from a prison that is paradoxically called “Camp Liberty”. Why am I here? I’m here simply because I believe in freedom. Who guards this prison? Brutal armed forces whose job is to murder people.
And what brought me here? Broken promises by the United States and the United Nations!
How did I get here?
In the years that followed the 1979 revolution in Iran, my parents were among millions of Iranians who supported the PMOI. On one night in 1981, when I was a child, agents of the mullahs’ regime broke into our house. They were armed. I was paralyzed with fear and watched as they started beating my parents and arrested them. My grandmother objected to their conduct, and in response they beat her with the butt of their rifles.
My bigger brother wrapped his arms around me to keep me from panicking. I heard gunshots outside the building. I later learned that my uncle and his wife, Soheila, were shot. Soheila died while she was pregnant.
With my parents in prison, I was forced to grow up without their guidance. For years, I went to the prison with my brother and grandparents to meet my parents. In the summer of 1988, the meetings suddenly stopped. Then, one day, when the families of political prisoners had gathered behind the prison doors and were demanding to see their children, one of the guards came out and loudly declared, “We’ve executed all of your children. You can receive their bodies from the morgue.” My grandfather died of a heart-attack from hearing the news. I later learned that this is a tactic that the Iranian regime uses to mentally torture the families of the political prisoners.
Years later, when I grew up, I became personally subject to the persecution of the mullahs’ regime. In the 1998 World Cup, when Iran won the match against the US, I went to the streets of Tehran to celebrate with my friends. But the armed forces stormed the streets to arrest the revelers. My friend Ahmad was captured by the guards and taken to a dark corner, where they tied his hands and upended a pewter bucket on his head. They pounded on the bucket with wooden clubs, asking him to give up my name and address, which he didn’t. When I later saw him in the hospital, one of his ears had lost its hearing. He told me, “This is not life. It’s death! We have no freedom whatsoever. I don’t know about you, but I’m leaving this country.”
His words sparked a thought in my mind. I looked around me and all I saw was poverty, addiction, prostitution, unemployment, forced religion, and …
Something had to be done, but I couldn’t do anything alone. Therefore I decided to join the PMOI, the democratic opposition to the dictatorship in Iran. It was hard for me to leave my friends, family and studies behind. But I had learned that there’s no life without freedom. It was my love for freedom that led me to Ashraf.
Are you still interested to hear my story? If yes then let me take you with me to years after and what happened to me.
It was in Ashraf and in close contact with the Mojahedin that I learned why so many people supported their cause and why the regime feared them so much as to execute thirty thousand of their members and supporters in the span of a single month: they had dedicated their lives for the freedom of Iran.
Following the 2003 US-Iraq conflict, the US army pledged to protect the residents of Camp Ashraf. But, heedless of the many warnings that we raised, the US government decided to hand over our security to the Iraqi forces. There was no question that such a decision would jeopardize our lives, for the Iraqi government owed its power to the terrorist Quds force and the Iranian regime, and we had no doubt that Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki would attack us to curry favor with the mullahs.
Five deadly attacks by Iraqi forces and 112 murdered residents who were “protected persons” under the fourth Geneva Conventions in the past four years have proven how accurate our assessment was. The latest attack by the Iraqi forces, which took place on September 1, 2013, resulted in the deaths of 52 defenseless refugees and the abduction of seven others. The hostages are in the hands of the Iraqi government at this very moment, and are at the risk of being surrendered to the Iranian regime.
This was all the results of the US government and UN shirking their duties. We tried reminding the US and the UN of their responsibilities in this regard, but unfortunately, they never listened to us and preferred to turn a blind eye to our demands, leaving us at the mercy of the Iranian regime’s cohorts in Iraq.
After the US government betrayals to us, the odds ruled that I give up my ideals for freedom in my country and surrender to the Iranian regime, call it quits and give in to live life on my knees under tyranny. But Instead, I decided to use my last option to bring the US and UN to their senses: I chose to go on hunger strike, demanding the release of the seven hostages and the protection of the residents by UN Blue Helmet forces. We deem the US and UN responsible for anything that happens to the hostages or the hunger strikers.
I am now into the third month, and though my health condition has deteriorated considerably, I am determined to continue my hunger strike until our demands are met.
Our cries did not wake the US and UN from their slumber – maybe our lives will.
- Ashrafi condemns world silence on Camp Liberty massacres (hicentre.org)
- An Exclusive Interview With Camp Liberty Resident, Homa Roboby a Participant for 60 Days in a National Hungers Strike to Free 7 Hostages in Iraq (freethe7.wordpress.com)