My name is Elham Fardipour and I am an Iranian refugee living in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. Not only is Camp Ashraf my home, yet it is also home to 3400 Iranian dissidents, including 1000 women. Many years ago, I joined the nationwide resistance against the Mullahs and came to Camp Ashraf with the goal of bringing freedom to my country, Iran, and saving the lives of Iranian men and women living under the cruelty and suppression of the religious dictatorship ruling Iran, which posses as a serious threat to world peace through its nuclear program and state sponsoring of terrorism. From 1989 to 1993, I lived in the UK studying in the field of electronics. You might be surprised, and ask why a woman alone leaves her life in Europe and cemes to Iraq. However, while witnessing the ruthless suppression of women in Iran, fathers who selling a kidney to make ends meet, the trafficking of 9 year-old girls in Kuwaiti markets, selling eye corneas to pay house mortgage and…, a comfortable and leisured life was no longer tolerable for me.
Following the occupation of Iraq, the responsibility of Ashraf residents’ protection was on the shoulders of US forces, under an agreement signed between the US government and each and every resident in Ashraf, continuing until 2009. After the transfer of protection from US forces to the Iraqi government in the beginning of 2009, this camp has been placed under an inhumane siege by Iraqi security forces under the command of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whom has very close ties to the tyrannical regime in Tehran. Camp Ashraf has been placed under an all-out blockade, and the common goal of Tehran’s Mullahs and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is to make living conditions for residents intolerable, forcing them to return to Iran where all the Ashraf residents will face definite execution and torture.
Although the blockade, due to the widespread international auspices by human rights organizations and numerous MPs of democratic countries from around the globe, has not reached its final goal of suppressing the camp’s residents and having them expelled from Iraq, it has actually caused mental and physical damages to Ashraf residents. It has also brought about restrictions in Ashraf residents’ free access to medical services and treatment. As a result, a number of my best friends, due to the Iraqi government’s prevention of their access to medical treatment, have lost their lives.
I am one of the victims of this suppressive blockade enforced by Nouri al-Maliki’s government. It has been nearly two years that my life is under great danger due to my cancer illness. However, the committee acting under the Iraqi Prime Ministry, which is responsible for Camp Ashraf, has prevented me, along with my nurse, from free access to medical specialists and medical treatment procedures during this time period.
Following widespread international protests on the prevention of my access to a medical specialist, I was able to visit a physician who emphasized that I immediately undergo treatment. However, unfortunately the hospital director named Omar Khalid, who is an agent of the Prime Ministry under the disguise of a doctor, didn’t give authorization and for the fifth time in the past 9 months, I have not been allowed to be transferred along with my nurse to a hospital in Baghdad to undergo chemotherapy. This is while the cancer in my body is developing and it is reaching a terminal stage.
Although my friends and I in Camp Ashraf have gone to great extents so that I can, at my own expense, undergo treatment, the Iraqi government neither authorizes the entrance of medical specialists into Ashraf, nor does it allow me to visit them.
I am currently in a very critical condition and if I do not receive immediate medical treatment, my illness will become uncontainable and there will be no chance to save my life. The case of Mehdi Fathi, another Ashraf resident, was similar to mine, and regardless of the warnings he gave, his treatment was delayed, which finally led to his death.
The Iraqi government’s recent inhumane pressures imposed on Ashraf and especially the patients here at the request of Tehran, has raised concerns. A hearing was held at the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, 18 November 2010 regarding the situation in Iraq with US Assistant Secretary of State in Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Collin Kahl attending. Senior committee members Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Sheila Jackson Lee, while showing pictures of me, questioned the senior officials of the US State and Defense Departments regarding the violation of Ashraf residents’ rights, and the restrictions, pressures and psychological tortures imposed against me and other terminally ill patients in Ashraf. In this session, members of the House demanded urgent action by the US State Department to bring an end to the inhumane restrictions against Ashraf, and the necessity of the US government’s urgent intervention to provide protection for Ashraf residents.
Also, the European Parliament on 25 November 2010 in a written declaration registered by the majority of members called on the US government and the UN to take urgent measures to provide protection for Ashraf residents.
My call is not only to save my own life, yet it is a call on all vigilant consciences to defend human rights and justice in the world.
Is there a vigilant conscience that will answer to the call of the oppressed against dictatorships such as the clerical regime in Iran and its proxies in the Iraqi government?
The only solution to guarantee the protection and security of Camp Ashraf residents is for US forces to assume the responsibility of their protection and the reopening of the UNAMI office inside Camp Ashraf.