The residents of the camp have over the years been systematically put under tremendous pressure. In 1997 the inhabitants were placed on the terrorist list. In 1999, the U.S. military took control of Camp Ashraf and conducted a detailed research and analysis of each of its residents, all of whom voluntarily disarmed in exchange for the U.S. military protection. They remained in the FTO list despite the fact that investigation conducted by the U.S. military found no evidence of terrorist activity, or any association with recent terrorist activity in the region or anywhere else in the world.
Further investigations conducted by several U.S. and international law enforcement organizations reiterated the same conclusion – that the MEK is not involved in terrorist activity at all.
Talking to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, General David Phillips, a retired U.S. Army General and former Camp Ashraf commander said:
“A thorough individual investigation produced no evidence of wrongdoing, no evidence of criminal acts, and absolutely no evidence of terrorism by these people. I didn’t read or get my information second and third hand. I lived it. I experienced it. I know it.”
But the question that remains to be answered is that why are these Iranian individuals, who are found guilty of promoting democracy by the Tehran mullahs, have been (and are being) treated in such a cruel manner by the U.S. Secretary Department.
Famed Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein told delegates during a speech at the Camp Ashraf conference in New York that the Camp Ashraf story had “so far escaped the attention it deserves”. However, Bernstein continued, it has at last been brought to the public’s attention.
Sharing this sentiment was the former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani noted that in July 2010, the U.S Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the State Department had violated the due process rights of the MEK, and remanded the case to the Secretary.
However, 19 months later, the State Department has still refused to act. Giuliani told fellow panelists at the Camp Ashraf event in New York:
“Why is the State Department waiting so long? What is it, two years now that they have been delaying making this decision? These [Giuliani’s fellow panelists] are terrorism experts. They know terrorism. These people know terrorism when they see it. This group [MEK] is not a terrorist group. Lift the designation and let’s have our country on the right side.”
As a result of this unacceptable delay, the residents are continuing to be bullied and put under pressure. After long negotiations and insistence of the Iraqi government, they accepted to leave the camp Ashraf. They were first told that the new location, Camp Liberty, which used to be a base for American soldiers, had the advantage of being large enough to locate the 3400 dissidents. This was despite the fact that the base was a desert-like place hardly suitable for men and women civilians. This information however, was soon proved to be wrong and the Iraqi government decided to force the men and women in the camp to a place about 40 times smaller than Camp Ashraf and was surrounded by four meter walls. No-one would be allowed to leave or enter the camp either.
This reminded everyone of the concentration camps used by the Nazi regime for its opponents.Looking at the history of the term concentration camp, one cannot help noticing the resemblances which exist. At the time, Hitler ordered to have his opponents physically concentrated in one place, and that is where the word concentration camp came from. One can also read in the history books that the term concentration camp referred to a camp in which people were detained without regard to legal norms that are acceptable in a constitutional democracy.
Sadly, these are the very conditions that the Iranian dissidents have been subjected to and the conditions have continuously become worse during the past year. The residents in Camp Ashraf are in fact intellectuals who have decided to stand up against the fundamentalist regime in Iran for democracy and freedom. But the fact is that they are receiving a harsh treatment from the international institutions, which are supposed to defend their rights.
As many humanitarian figures, including the archbishop of Wales have re-iterated, the world and the US Secretary of State must not act to stop the inhumane conditions the Ashraf residents are being force to.