|This article is outdated. (December 2013)|
Camp Liberty in September 2009, during the Iraq War.
|Occupants|| People's Mujahedin of Iran (current)
United States of America (former)
|Events||Camp Liberty killings|
Camp Liberty is a former United States military installation in Baghdad, Iraq, now being used to house the members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI, also called MEK) who previously resided in Camp Ashraf. Camp Liberty first came into existence during the 2003 invasion of Iraq as Camp Victory North, and was renamed in mid-September 2004 (its Arabic translation is "Camp Al-Tahreer") to its later name of Camp Liberty. Other camps that make up the Victory Base Complex include Camp Victory (formerly known as Camp Victory South), Camp Striker, Seitz, and Camp Slayer. The renaming was part of an effort to give U.S. facilities around Baghdad friendlier connotations, and an attempt to resolve the issue of constantly changing facility names.
During the Iraq War, following the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the base was a large coalition military installation located northeast of the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), becoming part of the U.S. military's Victory Base Complex (VBC). Camp Liberty was twice the size of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, and one of the largest U.S. overseas posts built since the Vietnam War.
Camp Liberty currently is used as a refugee camp for members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran. PMOI is a group which has been exiled from its native Iran since the Iranian Revolution, which the government of its host country of Iraq still considers to be a terrorist organization despite the fact that the USA removed it from the list of terrorist organizations, and which an Iranian organization opposed to it accuses to have killed over 25,000 Iraqis on behalf of Saddam Hussein.
Camp Liberty killings
On 11 May 2009, an American soldier, U.S. Army Sergeant John M. Russell, opened fire on his fellow service members within the camp at a counseling clinic center, killing five before being subdued and taken into custody.
People's Mujahedin of Iran
Under strong pressure by the Iraqi government, whose declared will is to expel PMOI/MEK from Iraq, but who was aided as well by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) under the pretext to preserve their security, near all of the 3400 MEK residents of Camp Ashraf were more or less forcedly moved to Camp Liberty in 2012. This helped partly to convince the United States removing the MEK from its list of designated terrorist groups. 166 of the MEK members are wanted for committing acts of terrorism inside Iran and the Iranian government is seeking their extradition.
Camp Liberty was renamed Camp Hurriya. A rocket and mortar attack left at least eight dead and nearly 100 wounded occurred at Camp Hurriya on 9 February 2013. Iranian residents of Camp Hurriya and their representatives and lawyers appealed to the UN Secretary-General and U.S. officials to let them return to Ashraf, which they say is 80 times larger than Liberty and has concrete buildings and shelters that offer more protection. They argue that this move is all the more imperative because according to the UN Refugee Agency and the US embassy in Baghdad, resettlement will take anywhere from three to 10 years. So, the residents would be at risk of further attacks and the move to Ashraf would not hinder their resettlement. The United States has been working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on the resettlement project.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Human Rights Council has categorized, in his Opinion of August 2012, the status of the MEK residents in Camp Liberty/Camp Hurriya as Arbitrary detention and called the Iraqi government for the "immediate release and lifting of all restraints upon the free movements of these persons".
29 April 2013 rocket attacks
On 29 April 2013, 20 explosions hit Camp Hurriya. Its residents accuse the Iraqi government of failing to offer adequate protection or medical care.
- Abu Ghurayb Presidential Site. GlobalSecurity.Org, Retrieved 12 February 2009.
- Shane, Scott (21 September 2012). "Iranian Dissidents Convince U.S. to Drop Terror Label". New York Times.
- Tahar Boumedra (2013), The United Nations and Human Rights in Iraq. The Untold Story of Camp Ashraf, ISBN 978-1-909740-64-8.
- Iran seeking extradition of 166 MKO members: ambassador
- A/HRC/WGAD/2012/32, Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its sixty-fourth session, 27–31 August 2012 - No. 32/2012 (Iraq) http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/alldocs.aspx?doc_id=20900
- Latest News Coverage on Camps Ashraf and Liberty (National Council of Resistance of Iran)