By Bahador, Camp Liberty resident
26 years ago, when I caught my first glimpse of my father, Mansoor, I didn’t think that such a brief encounter would have such a great impact on my life. Neither did I think that it would be the only time that I would ever see him alive.
I was five years old then, and was anxiously staring at the end of a hallway in Evin prison in Iran. A door opened and a silhouette appeared in the doorway. We locked stares and I instinctively knew that it was my father. Impulsively, I ran forward to catch up to him, fearing that I would miss the chance if I hesitated. Before I could reach him though, he was violently shoved back inside the room, and the iron door closed. I crashed face first into the metal barrier that separated me from my father, but I stayed there, pressed against the door, trying to remain as close to him as I could. In my childish thinking, I was willing him to reach through the inch-thick iron door and take me into his arms.
His image, standing tall and proud, smiling despite the pain and pressure that he was enduring, was forever etched into my mind.
In the years that followed, I would sometimes chance to meet some of his cellmates, people who had managed to escape the savagery of the Iranian regime’s prisons, and they would recite their memories of my father. The more I heard of him, the more I longed to see him once again.
But that wish never came true. In the summer of 1988, he was executed along with thirty thousand political prisoners. My father was thrown in jail because he had dared to oppose the dictatorship of the mullahs in Iran and raise his voice for freedom and democracy. He was executed because he refused to give in to the mullahs’ tyranny. The mullahs’ agents were afraid to deliver his body for burial – they thought that his grave would turn into a symbol of freedom and rally more people to the cause. They secretly interred him in a clandestine location, in a mass grave where hundreds of other heroes who, like him, had stood for freedom.
If there was one thing that I learned from that brief exchange with my father, it was that freedom is a cause worth fighting for, and one must pay the price to achieve it.
Many years later, I found myself following my father’s footsteps, and I joined the struggle to bring freedom and democracy: I came to Camp Ashraf, where thousands of Iranian dissidents had devoted their lives to deliver Iran from the clutches of the mullahs’ regime.
Now, I find myself in circumstances resembling those of my father. I’m in a prison called Camp Liberty, where the residents of Camp Ashraf have been relocated against their will. The sad part is that we are here with the accord and acknowledgment of the US and UN, two parties that had promised to protect us but have failed to do so in the past years. I’m under constant pressure and oppression by the Iraqi government, a close ally of the Iranian regime. 52 of my dearest friends were massacred in Camp Ashraf by Iraqi forces, and after nearly four months, they have not yet been laid to rest because the Iraqi authorities refuse to deliver their bodies to us. Seven others are hostages in the hands of Maliki’s forces, confined in their secret prisons in Baghdad, under abhorring conditions.
President Obama is directly responsible for the safety and security of the hostages. Yet, during all this period, he has remained silent in this regard, and his silence is prodding the Iraqi government to complete its sinister plot and to extradite the hostages to Iran, where they will be tortured and executed by the same vicious regime that murdered my father and thousands of innocent people. It is also opening the way for further attacks and massacres against us.
I will continue to stand for the freedom of the seven hostages, and I will continue to call for the US and UN to break their silence and take action before it’s too late. I know that my father and his fallen companions are proud of me for having stood by my colleagues and not having given in to the many conspiracies and trials that the Iranian regime and his allies have set before my path during these years.
Will you stand by me?
- The image of my father’s death still haunts my dreams (freethe7.wordpress.com)
- US did not live up to its end of the bargain (freethe7.wordpress.com)