These next few articles will focus on the MEK at Camp Ashraf And Camp Liberty in Iraq.
The MEK lived in Camp Ashraf, Iraq, roughly 44 miles from Iran’s western border, for 25 years before they were forced to moved and created a fully functioning city out of what was essentially a handful of deserted buildings without running water or paved streets.
It all began in 1986, when the MEK leadership relocated from France to Iraq, in order to better assist in gaining freedom for the Iranian people. The Iraq government allowed to live in an abandoned military outpost to the north of Al-Khalis in Diyala Province.
The MEK turned this desolate area into a thriving modern city, which had a number of educational, social and sports facilities, and named it after Ashraf Rajavi, a famous political prisoner at the time of the Shah. This became the MEK’s centre in Iraq.
However, as such, Camp Ashraf was under constant missile attack or aerial bombardment by the Iranian Regime, who hoped to exterminate the MEK. Despite this, the MEK kept their spirits high because they knew that they were fighting for a higher cause: freedom for all Iranians.
Indeed, visitors were amazed at the high morale there, as well as its democratic nature. The Iranian Regime tried to create discord among the MEK members, but due to the MEK’s commitment to dialogue and reasoning, they could not be broken.
The MEK even went out of their way to promote incredible relations with the neighbouring community, by investing heavily in infrastructure that would benefit the rest of Diyala province, like a water purification plant, road network, and electricity grid. The MEK also welcomed Iraqis at their medical clinics.
This also helped the Iraqi people to recognise that the Iranian Regime posed a clear and present danger, not just to the MEK, but also to the sovereignty of the Iraqi state.
In 2006, over 5.2 million Iraqi signed a petition warning about the danger that the Iranian Regime posed to Iraq and cited the MEK as the main force preventing the Iranian mullahs from taking over.
In 2008, more than 3 million Iraqi Shiites signed a declaration that called for the eviction of the Iranian Regime and its proxies from Iraq and the lifting of restrictions against the MEK in Camp Ashraf.
Thus, the Iranian Regime stepped up its campaign to eliminate the MEK; something made worse by its infiltration of the Iraqi government, as the Iraqi people had previously been concerned about. In July 2009, the Iraqi Army under the direct order of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki launched a deadly attack on Camp Ashraf that left 11 MEK members dead and a further 500 wounded.
For nearly two years the MEK were subject to constant attacks, psychological torture, and a ban on the imports of food, fuel and medicine.
In April 2011, al-Maliki launched another attack that left 36 MEK members dead and hundreds wounded; drawing widespread condemnation and described by then-US Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as a “massacre”.
That’s when the MEK were moved to Camp Liberty, which we will learn about in the next piece.