Camp Liberty residents tell their plight to Al-Arabiya TVPublished by International Liberty on June 7, 2015
In a documentary broadcast by Al-Arabita TV on 4 June 2015 two former Camp Liberty residents explained their ordeals in camps Ashraf and Liberty. English translation of the interviews appear here.
Al Arabiya: Before it leaving Iraq, the United States asked Iraq to guarantee the security of Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf, but Nuri Maliki’s forces attacked this camp several times and resorted to a massacre of the residents.
Shokriya: In Ashraf we said that Ashraf is like a mini Iran. All Iranian ethnicities are present; the Baluchis, Kurds, Fars and there really is no difference between them. Ashraf was a small size Iran and a model for the Iran of the future.
My life in Ashraf was beautiful. We had a library, stadium, swimming pool and university. I learned Arabic in Ashraf´s University in Iraq. People are close to each other and love one another. There is a fine human relationship between the people. I made many friends there, especially my dear friend Faezeh Rajabi who became one of the martyrs of the April 8, 2011 attack. She was Kurdish and had come to Ashraf from Iran.
Sabriya: I learned from my father about the resistance and I decided to come to Ashraf. I was in Ashraf for 12 years and in Camp Liberty for three years. In this process that I was in Ashraf and Camp Liberty, regrettably there were five criminal attacks by Iraqi mercenaries on the orders of Maliki and the Iranian regime. They attacked both Ashraf and Liberty. Most of my friends were killed in these attacks. Young women like Asiyeh Rakhshani, Faezeh Rajabi, Rahman Mannani, Hanif Emami and others; I don’t remember all the names now.
On April 8, or to be more exact since April 2, Maliki’s elements were ready to attack Ashraf. It was on April 2 that we faced Iraqi BMPs that came to Ashraf. Since I knew Arabic, along with a number of my other sisters, we went to talk to them and ask why they have brought these tanks to Ashraf. They said that they do not know and are just following orders and that we should ask their commanders.
Their commanders said that they were ordered to come and return the agricultural land here to their owners. We refuted their story and told them that we are living in Ashraf and that it is 25 years that we have been living here. They said that they didn’t know about this and that they could not answer us. This situation continued until April 8. They would advance and we tried to get them back and in particular to prevent them from entering the women’s locations. It was very hard for us if they would enter our place.
On April 8 we learned that the Iraqi government had issued an order for them to attack Ashraf. Maliki was heading the government then. I think it was around 5 or 5:30 in the morning that the attack started and lasted till 12 noon. Thirty-six people were martyred, including eight women. The news of the death of the people was very hard on me. It was difficult to see that others were dying and I was alive. The sound of machinegun and different kind of weapons would not cease.
It was at noon that I heard the sound of call to prayers from the mosque of Fatemeh Zahra and I suddenly burst into tears as I thought of those who had been martyred. Simay-e Azadi, the resistance TV station, announced those who had been martyred. It was very difficult for me to hear that Faezeh was among them.
Al Arabiya: The U.S. attempted to resolve the problem of refugees in Ashraf by transferring them to a place it used when it was in Iraq which was called Camp Liberty, but the siege of the refugees continued.
A resident in Camp Liberty: I am talking to you from a camp that before all else its name is a farce. They call it Camp Liberty, but there is no freedom here. We spend the days like prisoners. We cannot leave the camp and no one can come to the camp. They even prevent goods that we purchase through middlemen to get to the camp. We cannot buy computers and bring them to the camp or get insecticides although we live beside a river and marshes. We cannot bring mobile phones to the camp. We need concrete for our pavements, but they prevent it. How can we live in this camp?