For the past week, we have held a series of exclusive interviews with Camp Liberty residents. The residents have passed along their stories and shared their experiences.
Below follows part one of an interview with Mehrdad Safari, a 46 year-old man living in Camp Ashraf.
Q: What is your name and age?
My name is Mehrdad Safari, I am 46 years old and I’m an electrical engineer.
Before coming to Ashraf, I used to live in Toronto Canada and I was studying to receive my masters from the University of York in Toronto.
Q: What inspired you to join the hunger strike and how long have you been fasting?
I’ve been on hunger strike for 67 days. After the fifth massacre and horrible atrocity in Camp Ashraf on September 1; after the betrayal of all commitments and obligations about our security and safety by the U.S. and UN, I decided to join the hunger strike as the last means to bring attention to our plight.
Q: What do you and the other hunger strikers hope to accomplish with the hunger strike?
Our first demand is the release of the seven hostages, who are still in the hands of the Iraqi government and are facing the threat of being extradited to Iran, where they will be tortured and executed by the most brutal and notorious regime in the world.
Our second demand is the stationing of the UN Blue Helmets for the protection and the security of Camp Liberty. We also ask for an independent investigation into the Iraqi government’s atrocities on September 1st.
Q: How are you feeling, physically and how are other hunger strikers health conditions?
First of all let me say, the health conditions of the hunger strikers are deteriorating at an increasing pace. Most of us have lost more than 20% of our weight. I myself have heart disease, I had heart surgery twice before.
The doctors strongly insist that I end my strike, but I rejected because this is the only way I can bring the U.S. and UN to their senses and make them stand up to their responsibilities. But let inform you that if anything happens, the U.S. and UN are responsible.
Q: How long will you and the other strikers continue to fast?
We are determined to continue our hunger strike until our demands are met, especially the freedom of the seven hostages.
Q: You have said, time and again, that the U.S. is responsible for the protection of the hostages and the residents of Camp Liberty. Why do you believe that President Obama bears such a responsibility?
The U.S. and UN can and must force the Iraqi government to release the hostages. They had given their word to protect the residents of Ashraf in a quadripartite agreement between U.S., UN, Iraq and the residents themselves.
The U.S. had given each resident of Ashraf a protected person card and promised to protect them based on the Fourth Geneva Convention. Therefore they should have prevented the attack and they are now responsible for anything that happens to the hostages. Moreover, the residents of Ashraf moved to Camp Liberty based on the promises given by the U.S. State Department and the UN that their security would be provided and would not have to worry about being further attacked. But in the past year, the camp has been targeted by rockets on three accounts, and is vulnerable to further attacks.