The residents of Camp Liberty are mainly members of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/ MEK) which Jorgensen mentions has a “unique” relationship with the USA. From 19997-2012, MEK was on the US terror list, allegedly at the regime’s request during negotiations but they were removed after the US found “no recent history of terrorist activities”; in fact, they had been providing the USA with information on the terrorist activity in Iran.
Several US politicians from both major parties condemned the attacks including US Senator John McCain.
The former presidential candidate said: “Sadly, this is not the first time the residents of Camp Liberty have been the victims of horrific attacks.”
He added: “And I remain deeply concerned about their safety. While I am pleased by the State Department’s effort to expedite the residents’ resettlement to a safe location, this latest attack demonstrates the need for the United States and Iraq to do more to ensure the security of Camp Liberty during this process.”
Jorgensen cited the support for the Iranian resistance demonstrated in the Free Iran rally in Paris last month, which brought together over 100,000 people. The gathering, organised by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), focused on building a democratic Iran. It attracted politicians, religious leaders, and civilians from around the world.
She wrote: “Almost every American speaking at NCRI mentioned Camp Liberty. Former White House director of public liaison Linda Chavez said, ‘Let’s honour and commend the bravery and dedication of Camp Liberty residents.’ Francis Townsend, a former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, brought up the bipartisan advocacy on the part of Americans [and said] ‘We’re not done with that work until the last person leaves Camp Liberty, we will not be stopped’”.
Camp Liberty is a former US military base, where Iranian refugees are housed, supposedly protected by international law until they can reach a safe country.
The refugees were previously evicted from Camp Ashraf, also a US base. They set up camp in Iraq in 1986, after fleeing persecution in Iran. During the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, American military forces took control of the base. Then, the MEK surrendered its weapons in 2004 and received protected status under the Geneva Convention.
She wrote about Retired Colonel Wesley Martin, the first U.S. military official to serve as base commander in 2006.
She wrote: “During his time at Ashraf, Martin developed a professional relationship with the MEK, and when his tour of duty ended he continued to stay in communication with the group’s leaders on behalf of the State Department and the Pentagon. But when President Obama pulled out of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq in 2009, U.S. support for camps such as Ashraf went away as well. The camp was turned over to Iraq’s government.”
Iraq then tried to close the camp, which required the United Nations to intervene as a mediator. When this failed, Martin Kobler, head of the United Nations’ Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issued a plan for relocation which was agreed to by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The residents were moved to the smaller, and less well-equipped Camp Liberty where they are now under the care of the United National High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This was supposed to be a short-term fix until the residents could be moved to safe countries but four years later the camp still exists with 1,300 residents.
Martin blames this on the UN and said that America must stick to its guns in terms of relocation and monitor the camp to prevent any further attacks.
He said: “The UN is not a pure origination, there are a lot of political motivations.”
Martin added: “All we gotta do is put [the refugees] on buses, put them on planes, get them to Albania. And then no problems, [the Albanians] were happy to take them.”
Thankfully, Jorgensen notes that Americans are taking “more aggressive action”.
She wrote: “McCain pushed a resolution, S.Con.Res.42, to the Foreign Relations committee, where it passed unanimously, and now heads to the Senate for a floor vote…the bipartisan support of humanitarian efforts to rescue people in Camp Liberty give the U.S. an even stronger voice on the issue, one expected to end by 2017.”