INU - Homa Roboby is a 29-year old woman living in Camp Liberty. She was personally affected by the September 1, 2013 attack on Camp Ashraf as two of her friends were killed and seven others she was close to were injured. Roboby was kind enough to sit down with Iran News Update for an exclusive interview where she discussed the attack on September 1, what it is like to be a participant for 60 days in a national hungers strike and what actions she believes are necessary for the United States and United Nations take immediately.
How did you get to Camp Liberty?
I came to Ashraf in 1999 from Canada. I was in Ashraf until May 2012. And that’s when I came to Camp Liberty. It was a little more than a year ago. And this was after an agreement between the US, United Nations, and Iraq. They guaranteed us protection and security while we did the interviews with the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UNUPR). But apparently that guarantee was a deception and we were lied to and deceived. And forced to come to this camp where we are facing more threats on our lives. And we have been under three attacks which have led to ten people being killed. And more than 170 wounded. And many of them were my friends, too.
What inspired you to join the hunger strike and what inspired you?
On September 1, the Iraqi forces attacked Ashraf killing two of my friends and injuring seven others who were supposed to be protected under the 4th Geneva Convention. And we were promised protection and security from the United Nations and the United States. And these promises, not one of them were fulfilled. We have been paying the price for the betrayal of the U.S. and UN. It seems that they have taken silence from their actions and policies, unfortunately. So I have found no other respective way of protesting to these policies and promises than to go on a hunger strike. Right now, it’s almost been 50 days.
It’s been almost 2 months now that Iraq has been holding my friends hostages, which really worries me. I worry about their condition and that’s how long we have been on this hunger strike. It has been two months since I have eaten anything and my physical conditions along with other hunger strikers are in a critical stage. I, personally, have been having trouble with my eye sight. And others have lost up to 50 kilograms. And some have even fainted because of the headaches and their bodies shutting down from the hunger strikes.
What do you and the hunger strikers hope to accomplish with your hunger strike?
Well, we first started the hunger strike in hopes of releasing the seven hostages and the guarantee of our protection by the UN and U.S. here in Camp Liberty and independent and impartial investigation on the crimes that have occurred here in Camp Ashraf. And we were determined to reach those demands because after being promised protection of our lives, you want your voice heard. So with these crimes and betrayals, the question now is “what’s there to be done?” And the answer is very clear to me, in my opinion. I have to endanger my own life to awaken the international communities from its slumber. And the U.S. and UN are responsible to anything that happens to the hostages or us here.
How long will you and the other hunger strikers fast?
We will continue our hunger strike until we reach our goal and demands. However long it takes and whatever the consequences be until the U.S. and UN force Iraq to meet our demands. And this has to happen immediately before anyone else gets hurt or killed. And if anything like this happens, the U.S. and UN will be held liable. And we will continue, but it all depends on the international community, especially the U.S. and the UN, to take immediate action. We want them to release our seven friends.
What actions need to be taken by the people or government to help change the situation of the MEK members in Iraq and the hostages?
The first action is for the U.S. and UN to act, but they aren’t. And to make sure that protection is granted to us and the seven hostages. That’s the first and most important priority. And not to do so will only encourage Iraq to attack more. If the U.S. lived up to their first promise, the Iraqi government wouldn’t dare to commit these crimes. And our friends and families that were either killed or abducted would still be here with us. So I think the most important thing that will change the situation here is for the U.S. to commit itself to our protection here and for the UN to place their Blue Helmets here in Camp Liberty. And to once again promise us that the lives of our residents will not be placed in further jeopardy.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would like to speak on behalf of the hunger strikers here at Camp liberty. And they want our voices to be heard. Everyone here would agree that it is time, especially for President Obama and the UN to stand with those who are speaking democracy in Iran. The more they stay silent and turn a blind eye, the more the Iraqi government will be encouraged to attack innocent people.