U.S. Senate hearing urges protection for Iran dissidents in Camp LibertyPublished by International Liberty on October 21, 2015
The U.S. government must live up to its promise of protecting thousands of members of the main Iranian opposition, who are based at Camp Liberty, near Baghdad, a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services was told on Wednesday.
The hearing, entitled Iranian Influence in Iraq and the Case of Camp Liberty, was aired live on the Senate website.
Senator John McCain (R – AZ), Chairman of the Committee on Armed Services, warned that residents in Camp Liberty have been constantly victims of harassment and rocket attacks by agents of the Iranian regime and Iraqi militia groups.
Sen. Jack Reed (D – RI), Ranking Member on the committee, said: “The Iranian dissidents at Camp Liberty are in an increasingly perilous situation, having repeatedly come under attack. These horrific attacks, which have killed more than 100 residents in Camp Liberty since 2009, clearly indicate the threat to this group from Iran and Iranian-backed militia seeking to eliminate and silence these dissidents.”
The Senate committee heard from General James Jones, former National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama; Hon. Joseph I. Lieberman, former U.S. Senator; and Colonel Wesley Martin, former Commander, Forward Operating Base Ashraf, all of who warned that the residents in Camp Liberty were at risk of a massacre at the behest of Iran’s fundamentalist regime.
Sen. Lieberman described the residents in Camp Liberty as “freedom fighters.”
“They believe in freedom. They are a moderate Muslim group. They are quite refreshingly led by a woman who has put out a 10-point plan” which supports separation of church and state, complete gender equality, commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, peaceful coexistence with its neighbors and a non-nuclear Iran.
Sen. Lieberman urged the U.S. government to take up protection of the Camp Liberty residents.
Gen. Jones told the committee: “The residents in Camp Liberty are exiles from Iran who have lived in Iraq since the mid-1980s. They oppose the regime in Tehran which has helped facilitate a campaign of harassment, intimidation, and murder against their encampment with the complicity of Iraqi authorities–despite America’s promise to protect the men, women, and children of Camp Ashraf, now residing at Camp Liberty.”
“You know the grave implications of Iranian efforts to shore up the Assad dictatorship and to prosecute the malignant Shiite-Sunni conflict in Iraq and foster its reach in Lebanon, Gaza, and Yemen. What is not as well know is that part and parcel of Iran’s subversive program in Iraq has been the persecution of nearly 3,500 Iranian objectors to the regime housed first at Camp Ashraf in Diyala Province and now at Camp Liberty in Baghdad.”
“This is a group that has consistently opposed the Iranian regime and resided at Camp Ashraf in Iraq since 1986. During Operation Iraqi Freedom the group welcomed American troops, voluntarily disarmed.