The airlifting of the final remaining residents of Camp Liberty, Iraq were removed this week after nearly five years of struggle by the Iranian Resistance to secure their relocation.
The camp, which was originally a U.S. military installation created during the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, was a destination point for exiled members of the People’s Mojahiden of Iran (PMOI, or MEK), the largest political opposition group in Iran.
Last year, 2,000 people were evacuated from the site to different European countries. Most of the recent evacuees were sent to Albania. The final 280 residents were evacuated on Thursday, September 9th, headed for Albania from Baghdad Airport.
At a conference on Saturday, September 10, Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), spoke about the lengthy struggle to evacuate a camp that was never intended to be a permanent settlement.
“It’s common knowledge that after the residents depart from Ashraf, after the removal of the terrorist designation, Liberty was supposed to be a temporary transit location. This was the legal and official name given to Camp Liberty. Just a transit point for a few weeks, or a few months. It has taken now five years. This helps us to understand the scope of the blackmail and terrorist threats made by the regime in Iran in this regard as well as the dimensions of the bribery and the investments that the regime made in this process.”
“The regime wanted to expel the PMOI from Iraq and send them away from the Iranian borders; the mollahs’ true demand for PMOI members in Ashraf was their destruction, their annihilation, or their surrender to the mollahs’ rule. Fake arrests warrants issued by the Iraqi judiciary…the red notices passed on to Interpol all were to pave the way for the same purpose. ”
“Both houses of British parliament; parliaments of Iceland, Canada, Egypt…I can only say that we do not possess any oil wells, or warships, or other powers…It was a much greater power that came to our aid, and that was the power of conscience and dignity. These are examples of the moral and ethical power of contemporary mankind.”
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, president of the International Search for Justice (ISJ), said that “all our friends in Liberty are now safe, and this is the best news we could get today.
“The way to freedom, to justice, peace, dignity, is not a flat, easy way. [The Iranian regime] know[s]..and they are right…that people in Liberty are the core, the energy, the hope of Iran, and they wanted, at all means, to finish with it; to kill all of them; to murder all of them. And they have not succeeded, thanks to the endurance, the bravery, the steadfastness of the residents.”
“This is an absolute game-changer. We have passed from defensive mode to offensive mode; today, our hands are free. There is no weight on our shoulders to prevent us from moving. Until today, we have resisted; now, we will attack.”
French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt said that “when seeing the images [of Liberty residents leaving the camp], I felt my own liberation…With tanks, loudspeakers, machine guns, they were hunting them like rabbits. They suffered attacks of hatred, of revenge.”
While the cause of political change in Iran still requires a great deal of work, the removal of the last residents of Camp Liberty is an important victory for the resistance and the culmination of years of effort to relocate them.