Time to wake up President Obama

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by Mohammad Ali Aghaii, hunger striker in Camp Liberty

I studied architecture in Iran. My twin sister was a physical training student. We were both interested in martial arts. I got my green belt in Kung-Fu in 1998. She taught Karate. We both put behind our martial arts carrier in Iran.

Why? you may ask. Well, you’ll get your answer with a simple glance at the living conditions of the Iranian people. But to see things from an athlete’s perspective, you just need to look at the headlines of Iran’s sports-related news:

–       FIFA warns Iran because of executions in stadiums

–       Iranian clerics: “Sending female athletes abroad is against Islam”

–       The commanders of the IRGC consider sports as one of a domain of threat for the government

My sister and I both loved martial arts, but were deeply pained by the poverty, suppression, execution, torture, addiction and… that plagued our country under the rule of the mullahs. We tried to help the poor in our own way, but there was only so much the two of us could do.

Finally, one day, my sister and I decided to come to Camp Ashraf. This was the only effective way to contribute to the cause of freedom in our country. Putting behind all of my personal dreams and ambitions was hard for me, but at the end of the day, I decided that dedicating my life to the betterment of other people’s lives is worth more than any personal achievement.

Mohammad Ali, performing in Ashraf
Mohammad Ali, performing in Ashraf

In 2009, after the US government handed over Camp Ashraf’s security to the Iraqi government, Maliki’s armed forces attacked Ashraf, murdered 11 residents and injured more than a thousand people. My right eye was injured in that attack, and I nearly lost my sight. My twin sister was outraged. “Why?” she cried, as she came to visit me in the hospital. “Hadn’t the US promised to protect us?”

The US government promised there wouldn’t be any further violence. But in 2011, when the Iraqi forces attacked Ashraf for the second time, the American forces were nowhere to be seen. I was injured again; this time, I suffered a shrapnel-wound to my foot. I had no words to console my sister when she came to visit me in the hospital. I wrote letters of complaint to every possible person that was involved, but no one answered my letters.

This time, the US – and the UN – promised that if we move to Camp Liberty, there would be no more risks to our security.

On September 1, Iraqi forces attacked Camp Ashraf again, brutally murdering 52 of its residents and abducting seven others. Quite predictably, the US and UN took no action. I couldn’t take it anymore. I went on hunger strike at 11am on the same day, and I swore to continue until the hostages are freed. The doctors warned me that I could lose my right eye – the same one that was wounded in 2009 – but I was past the point of listening to such explanations: we had been betrayed one too many times, and it was time that something serious was done.

On day 83 of the hunger strike, I fainted while I was walking. I gained consciousness with excruciating pain in my side and later learned that I had fractured a rib. That’s one more notch on the US government’s scoreboard. Again, my sister was outraged. “How many deaths will it take,” she asked, “for Obama and Ban Ki Moon to wake up?”

I could only answer, “The world powers betray their commitments. This is the last means to save the seven hostages and ensure our security.”

Mohammad Ali faints after 83 days of hunger strike and fractures a rib
Mohammad Ali faints after 83 days of hunger strike and fractures a rib
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