During an event titled “Right to access to medical care” held on February 20, calls were made in favour of lifting the cruel medical siege on Camp Liberty, which has severely added to the many hardships faced by unarmed residents.
The Conference, which was held in UN Geneva Headquarters, was organized by the France Libertes-Foundation of Danielle Mitterrand, the Nonviolent Radical Party, the Transnational and Transparty, the Women’s Human Rights International Association (WHRIA) and the International Educational Development. The event was told that at least 23 Iranian dissidents had died as consequence of the medical blockade and other lives were hanging in the balance. Camp Liberty is temporary home to a number of Iran dissidents including members of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Speakers included Swiss MP and member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Eric Voruz, Swiss MP Jean-Charles Rielle, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order Alfred de Zayas, former MEP Paulo Casaca, Honorary Professor at the University of Geneva Christiane Perregaux and Président de la Fédération Humaniste Européenne Pierre Galand. The speakers demanded that immediate action ought to be taken by European governments to provide security for the Iranian dissidents residing in the camp. They also criticised and called for an end to the policy of appeasement of Iraq by Western governments.
Serious limitations on residents’ access to medical facilities have remained in place. Residents are compelled to wait for days and months before being allowed to visit a hospital to receive treatment. Since 2009, 24 refugees have died owing to the medical blockade. The deceased include Ms. Mahin Afzali, who suffered a cardiac arrest on 13 January 2015 and subsequently died because of the lack of basic facilities in the Iraqi clinic of Camp Liberty.
Regardless of the many commitments made by the government camp management before UNAMI representatives, patients in dire need of medical attention are not being transferred to hospitals. As of January 2015, 37% of residents of Camp Liberty, which include 907 people including 245 female residents, await their turn to visit a hospital. 117 amongst them have been waiting since as early as 2012. To make matters worse, the Iraqi government is not allowing residents to transfer medial equipment from Ashraf to Camp Liberty, which includes CT-Scan and X-ray machines.
Residents of Camp Liberty face several other problems including direct attacks by the Iraqi forces carried out on the behest of the Iranian regime, denial of property rights, logistical problems and an extremely slow-paced resettlement process.
So far, the international powers have been abdicating in their responsibility towards protecting Camp Liberty residents, who had voluntarily surrendered their arms in 2003. Since then, 117 lives have been lost and 1400 persons have been injured in the several attacks launched against them. NCRI, politicians and several human rights groups have demanded that UN Security Council should recognise Camp Liberty as a refugee camp and residents ought to be granted refugee status and be protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention.