In our first piece, we spoke about how the MEK transformed a set of derelict buildings at Camp Ashraf into a fully functioning town that would have helped them serve the great cause of overthrowing the Iranian Regime. Then, in our second piece, we spoke about how the MEK was forced to leave Camp Ashraf after experiencing incredible levels of violence, including missile attacks, and harassment from the Iranian Regime and their proxies in the Iraqi government.
In this piece, we will discuss the conditions at Camp Liberty and how the MEK survived there from 2012-2016.
The MEK was given repeated assurances by Martin Kobler, the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), about their safety and adequate standards of living at Camp Liberty, but it became little more than a prison for the MEK, with human rights abuses being the norm.
Camp Liberty was an old American military centre that was unfit for long-term residency and had none of the amenities needed to support a great number of people. On top of that, Iraq banned the MEK from selling or transferring its property at Camp Ashraf, which would have provided $525 million for the MEK in 2012.
It had no connection to the electrical grid – Iraq refused to connect it – and only a few dilapidated generators. By the end of 2012, the MEK had paid $3.5 million for generator fuel and $2.5 million for water supply.
It didn’t even have roads and the Iraqi government refused to allow the MEK to move machines from Camp Ashraf to Liberty for construction work, which led to many injuries from MEK members trying to make do without the proper equipment. The MEK was not even allowed to build ramps for disabled people.
Worse still was its lack of adherence to the basic human rights of the MEK, which violated a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Iraq and the UNAMI.
It all began when the Iraqi government, at the behest of the Iranian Regime, began to install security apparatus in there, including a central police station, at least five other police posts, surveillance cameras, and eavesdropping devices, which was coupled with uninterrupted patrols.
The MEK did not ask for or want this apparatus, but the Iranian Regime found this a useful way to keep track of the MEK and gather information on them.
The area of Camp Liberty was little more than half a square kilometre – barely able to accommodate some 3,000 MEK members – and it was run by Iraqi Colonel Sadeq Mohammad Kazem, who was already wanted by a Spanish court for orchestrating attacks on the MEK at Camp Ashraf in 2009 and 2011.
Iraq banned the MEK from leaving Camp Liberty or even receiving visits from family members, human rights activists, parliamentarians, reporters or any foreign visitor; something that indicates a massive cover-up. The MEK was also denied proper medical care, which led to the death of some 27 residents.
The MEK was also, again, subject to deadly missile attacks by Iran-backed Iraqi militias. The worst attack occurred in 2015, when 80 rockets were fired at the camp, killing 24 MEK members and wounding dozens.
In our next piece, we will discuss the MEK’s move to Albania.