Iraq: Inhumane Siege of Camp Liberty following Deadly Rocket Barrage

Days after the lethal October 29th rocket barrage on Camp Liberty in Iraq, home to thousands of Iranian dissidents, which left 24 dead and more than a hundred wounded, living conditions remain drastic and critical. While scores of humanitarian and political dignitaries in the U.S. and EU, including distinguished U.S. senators, condemned the attack and demanded urgent aid for the residents, the Iraqi forces in charge of the camp, loyal to Iran’s mullahs, have aggravated the situation by intensifying the inhumane siege already imposed on the residents. The camp inhabitants have been deprived of vital life necessities including food, fuel and, shelter material after the attack.

This enormous attack was a massacre that many humanitarians throughout the world had warned of for months. In numerous letters, press releases, and statements the U.S. government, UN and EU were warned that the Iraqi government is not a competent entity to be responsible for the security of this camp. As such, the refugees interned within this ‘death-camp’ remain in imminent danger.

Warnings went neglected. The same criminals responsible for previous massacres against the residents in their previous home of Camp Ashraf in Diyala Province have been allowed to remain in charge of Liberty. They have planned and committed numerous crimes against Iranian opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran members in Iraq in recent years. The residents in Camp Liberty are members of this opposition organization.

Iraqi National Security Advisor Faleh al-Fayyad, the key oppressor of the Camp Liberty residents, has in recent weeks and even during these gloomy days imposed an inhumane siege of the camp, depriving the residents of basic needs such as food and fuel as well as plastic sheets needed for temporary shelters during Iraq’s in rainy season. As the residents are living in highly vulnerable and flimsy trailers, their surrounding protective concrete T-walls have been taken away by the Iraqi authorities and they were denied the right to even have their own protective helmets and vests, which they were forced to abandon in Camp Ashraf.

Again repeated warnings that this blatant denial of their rights to their own property would render them vulnerable to rockets attacks were ignored by the U.S. and UN.

Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, reiterated in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Nov 4, 2015: “As Iran’s malign involvement in Iraq grows, the security situation around Camp Liberty is increasingly dire. It is clear that immediate actions must be taken to ensure the safety and security of the residents of Camp Liberty.”

“Yet despite the atrocious conditions and continued danger to residents, the United States has remained ineffective, and even reluctant, in responding to our humanitarian obligations to protect the residents. We made a commitment to protect these Iranian dissidents and, as we move forward, I look forward to working with you to fulfill this commitment.”

Other American senators joined voice with Sen. McCain. Senator Charles E. Schumer strongly condemned the October 29th terrorist missile attack:

“I strongly condemn the recent rocket attack on refugees at Camp Hurriya in Iraq. The perpetrators that committed this disturbing, cowardly and barbarous attack must be swiftly brought to justice. … I urge the State Department and the Iraqi government to do all they can to find and punish the perpetrators and to ensure the residents at Camp Hurriya are safe.”

Since early 1980, the PMOI has been the main opposition to Tehran’s clerical dictatorship, and the ayatollahs have always taken advantage of any opportunity to strike against their main rival. To exacerbate the situation, U.S. strategic foreign policy mistakes since 2009 have given a free hand to Iran in Iraq.

In the current alignment of power in Iraq, how the ayatollahs’ main opposition, PMOI, is treated sets the metric for measuring the extent of Iran’s influence in this country. To proclaim its leading position in defending moral values, international laws, and regulations protecting refugees, the U.S. must fulfill its commitment of protection given to each of the residents in a written letter, and in cooperation with UN work to announce Camp Liberty as a Refugees Camp under direct UNHCR supervision. Other measures proposed by U.S. politicians must be comprehensively assessed to prevent more deaths. It is already too late for those who have been killed, but we can always act for those who have survived.