By Saber, Camp Liberty resident
One who bears hardships; that is the meaning of my name, Saber, in Persian and Arabic. Might be that my parents knew in advance that my entire life would be marked with these “hardships” when they chose my name. What I do know is that the trials began from the very first months of my life.
My mother, who opposed the religious dictatorship of Khomeini, was killed in her own house by the Iranian regime’s “Revolutionary Guard Corps”. After murdering her, the regime’s agents tore me from my mother’s arms and took me to the notorious Evin prison. I spent the first four years of my life in Evin, reared by political prisoners who took care of me.
Finally, after four years, Khomeini’s prison guards came to understand that I pose no threat to their regime – or maybe they were just too annoyed of hearing me crying – and they delivered me to my aunt, outside the prison.
But since my aunt was a dissident as well, the Iranian regime’s guards came after her too, and while I was very young, I was forced to switch between different families many times. At length, my grandfather took me under his care and raised me.
As soon as I got a hold of my bearings, I found out that my father too, opposes Khomeini, and is currently in Camp Ashraf, Iraq, home to thousands of Iranian dissident refugees. I also learned that two of my uncles had been killed under torture in the Iranian regime’s dungeons, because they had the guts to raise their voices for freedom.
In light of all these tragic and horrible events, I could no longer bear living in Iran: the very sight of the flagstones of the streets only brought up nightmares. All I could think of was joining my father. It was the only thing that I dreamed of as a child.
Finally, sometime before the 2003 US-Iraq conflict, I succeeded reaching Camp Ashraf, where I experienced the joy of seeing my father for the first time. In a short while, I was drawn to the good-natured and hard-working folks who inhabited the camp, and who strived for everything that I had dreamed of: freedom and democracy in Iran. I decided to stay. It was like being home for the first time.
And then the 2003 conflict came along.
American forces bombed us during the invasion of Iraq. Why? I still haven’t figured it out. We had clearly declared our impartiality in the conflict months before the first shot was fired. We didn’t even react in self-defense when they were attacked by American bombers and fighters.
Fifty of my friends lost their lives in a war that had nothing to do with.
Afterwards, US officers said, “Sorry, it was a mistake.” We delivered our weapons in exchange of a document in which an American General promised that US forces would protect us. Each and every one of us received a copy of that document and an ID card that designated us as Protect Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
But a couple of years later and with the advent of the new administration in Washington, the US government decided to hand over the protection of the camp to Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, an obvious ally of the Iranian regime. The results were disastrous: five deadly attacks by Iraqi forces against the camp’s residents, 112 dead, more than a thousand wounded.
The last instance took place on September 1, 2013. On that day, Iraqi Special Forces attacked the residents for the fifth time, brutally murdering 52 and abducting seven others. Ali Seyyed Ahmadi, my teacher, mentor, and father was one of them. The life of the man who had always been a source of inspiration and strength to me ended abruptly with a bullet wound to the back of his head, shot by Iraqi forces with weapons acquired from the United States. The image of my father, lying face down on the floor with his blood gathered in a puddle around him, still haunts my dreams. His body is lying in some morgue right now, still in the hands of the Iraqi authorities, who after four months are still refusing to deliver the bodies of the victims for burial.
I cling on to the memories of my father when the pain becomes unbearable. I know that he expects me to weather this storm with my head held high, like many others that have come across my path during the years of my life.
The seven hostages, six of them women, are still in the hands of Maliki, withheld in the dark corners of his secret prisons. I shudder when thinking of the torments they endure each minute that passes.
The US government promised to protect us, but in effect left us at the mercy of our murderers, and it currently isn’t even willing to take action to secure the release of the seven hostages, or protect the rest of us from further attacks.
America’s promise? What promise? I spent the first four years of my life in prison. My mother was murdered by the Iranian regime, my father by Maliki.
Whose side are you on President Obama?
- From the mullahs’ prisons to the UN’s (freethe7.wordpress.com)
- From prison to prison, a letter to my sister (freethe7.wordpress.com)