On September 1, 2013, Iraqi forces under the command of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki stormed Camp Ashraf, murdering 52 of its residents and abducting seven others, including six women. This abhorring crime triggered a humanitarian crisis that has aggravated and reached critical levels after the passage of more than two months. The idleness of US and UN in this regard has endangered the lives of the seven hostages and hundreds of hunger strikers.
Camp Ashraf was home to more than 3000 Iranian dissidents for more than 26 years. In 2003, after the US invasion of Iraq, the US Army promised to protect the residents of the camp and recognized them as “Protected Persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention. In 2009, the US government decided to hand over the security of the camp to the Iraqi government, which was in league with the Iranian regime, the bitter enemy of Ashraf’s residents. The residents of the camp warned against this course of action, but US authorities promised that the safety and security of the residents would be ensured, and left them at the mercy of the Iraqi forces.
A few months later, in July 2009, when Iraqi forces raided the camp, murdering eleven and injuring more than a thousand of the camp’s residents, the US forces stood by and did nothing to stop the carnage. The same scenario repeated itself in April 2011; this time, the attack by Iraqi forces claimed the lives of 36 residents.
As 2011 came to a close, the US and UN encouraged the residents of Ashraf to move to Camp Liberty, Baghdad, where they would enjoy better security and would be quickly transferred to third countries. At the same time, it was agreed between the US, UN, the government of Iraq and the residents themselves that a hundred residents remain in Ashraf to negotiate the sale of the residents’ property. The US and UN had given guarantees about the safety and security of those 100 individuals.
Since the residents’ relocation to Camp Liberty, two missile attacks have left ten people dead and nearly two hundred injured. Again, the US and UN did nothing to mitigate the threats to the lives of the residents of Camp Liberty, and the same Iraqi forces that had perpetrated the previous attacks on Camp Ashraf were put in charge of Camp Liberty’s security.
The same happened when the last and most brutal attack took place on Ashraf on September 1st. Countless documents and evidence prove that the attack was carried out by the Iraqi forces and the seven hostages are in the custody of the Iraqi government. Camp Liberty residents and dignitaries from across the world called on the US Government to live up to its promises about the security of Ashraf residents, and to intervene and put pressure on the Iraqi government to release the hostages. But US authorities preferred to remain silent and believe the outrageous lies of the Iraqi government, claiming that the attack wasn’t conducted by Iraqi forces and the hostages are no longer in Iraq. And again, they turned their back on the residents.
In protest to this continued breach of agreements and betrayal of promises by the US and UN, hundreds of Camp Liberty residents went on hunger strike as the last means to have their voices heard, demanding the immediate release of the seven hostages and the protection of Camp Liberty by UN Blue Helmet forces. In solidarity and support of Camp Liberty residents, similar hunger strikes were launched by hundreds of Iranians in Canada, Germany, England, Switzerland and Australia.
The hunger strike has been ongoing for more than two months, and the hunger strikers’ health conditions are deteriorating at a fast pace. Many of them have been hospitalized and damages they’ve sustained are becoming irreversible. Yet they are determined to continue their hunger strike until the hostages are released and their demands are met. They hold the US and UN accountable for anything that befalls the hostages and any of the hunger strikers.
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