For 15 years the justification for doing nothing, never changed. The USA considered the MEK (Mujahedin el Khalq of Iran or People’s Mujahedin of Iran-PMOI) a terror organisation and the penalties for aiding any terror group included Federal imprisonment and fines. After covering the humanitarian crisis aspect of this story for five years, Friday was still movement and a hard-fought victory for people worried about their families and friends instead of labels.
Friday evening, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a “take out the trash” news dump, announced the MEK/PMOI would be removed from the terror list following repeated orders from US courts declaring the listing be removed. One likely reason for foot-dragging was the MEK/PMOI was placed on the list by her husband in 1997 when he was President. Though sources deny it, this was a likely diplomatic trade-off because US Intelligence indicated the incoming Iranian regime was more moderate and would likely deal with the USA in exchange for the listing. Instead the Iranian regime denied, then embarked upon the nuclear programme now at the centre of the news events globally.
The MEK/PMOI had been delisted years earlier in the UK and EU and indeed Parliamentary committees in both bodies plus human rights groups like Amnesty International worried about the systemic abuse of 3,400 people in Camp Ashraf. They were finally transferred from their desert home for 25 years to the US-vacated Camp Liberty in downtown Baghdad. The human cost was dozens killed in the camp, scores wounded by agents loyal to the Iranian regime and the continuing poor treatment of residents including theft of personal belongings and difficult living facilities.
Camp Ashraf sat 60 miles NW of Baghdad and 60 miles from the border of Iran. Its residents bitterly resisted and fought the Iranian regime. When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, the camp’s residents came under coalition control. Its members disarmed themselves and accepted coalition and UN control of the camp. This worked until the SOFA expired in 2009 and US troops moved out of cities (and Camp Ashraf) and eventually out of Iraq in 2011.
The Iraqi government was warned repeatedly by the UN that camp security was now their responsibility. But the term ‘Iraqi Government’ is an oxy-moron. It is corrupt and hanging by its fingernails trying to avoid an all-out Sunni vs. Shia civil war. To keep peace on his Western flank with Iran, Prime Minister al Maliki looked the other way as troops and agents of the Iranian secret police launched brazen intimidation attacks on camp residents.
I was writing for truthout.org and had contributed a dozen or so investigative pieces on everything from voting machine fraud in the USA to travels across Tea Party country to understand what this group was about. Aside from payment, each story garnered 75K+ views and it was a mutually beneficial relationship. Their motto is “Fearless, Independent Journalism.”
Their behaviour in 2010 was anything but… in December of 2010 I wrote about the Camp and its sitting duck residents being pulled at by as many as seven different sides. The Iranian propaganda machine flooded the article with comments and suddenly the ‘fearless, independent journalism’ was changed to “pull the article and throw Denis under the bus.” Shortly thereafter, every piece they had paid for disappeared. The Commissioning Editor and Editor would not explain why except for one line… “you did not tell us these people were the MEK” (except, of course, in the opening two paragraphs). So while truthout.org has played safe, ProPublica.org has won a Pulitzer for real, courageous journalism.
And while the struggle continues, the playing field just levelled considerably because someone in the US Government finally did the right thing. Now if we could get Camp Liberty’s residents some real security and water, we might be able to sit all of the sides pulling this beast apart at the table and resolve it once and for all.
And as for truthout… if you were truly fearless, you would have covered this story instead of being such cowards. I know there are no Boy or Girl Scouts on any side of this fight, but this story was a humanitarian crisis and you played politics and turned your back on 3,400 people in the desert because Iranian propaganda scared you witless by doing their job. You should have done your job.
A few of the articles generated over the last several years:
- The Siege of Camp Ashraf, Iraq
- Editorial: ‘Fearless’ Journalism? truthout.org Pulls Camp Ashraf Article Without Explanation/Response
- “The Friendliest Terrorists You’d Ever Want to Know!” Misinformation, Misunderstanding & FEAR!
- Rock and a Hard Place – With Libya, Are Camp Ashraf Refugees Now on Their Own?
- REPORTED: 23 Dead, 200+ Injured in Overnight Camp Ashraf Attack by Iraqi Government Troops
- UK Progressive Agrees with FOX News OpEd – PMOI Should Be Removed from Terror Watch List
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Congressional Testimony Before Foreign Affairs Committee on Camp Ashraf
- 54 Days to Save Camp Ashraf Residents – Emboldened Iraq/Iran May Not Wait
- The Monday Line: 19 Days to Genocide in Camp Ashraf
- Editorial: Everybody Stop Pushing! You’re Not Helping Your Cause!
- Iraq Camp Ashraf: Who’s ‘Got the Backs’ of These Refugees on 31 December 2011?
- A Man of Heart and Humility – Lord Corbett of Castle Vale (1933-2012)
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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