Since August 2007, I have received telephone calls and emails from individuals, who are among a group of 200 Iranians being detained for the past five years in an American military camp in Iraq.
The following summary is based solely on these telephone calls and e-mails. These emails are available upon request.
The United States State Department interviewed all the members of the organization of the People Mojahedin of Iran, PMOI (Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization). A group of 200 individuals, who had been in disagreement with Mojahedin for some times, informed the US officials that they wanted to leave the PMOI. This group was later taken to a camp called Temporary International Presence Facility (TIPE) in Khalis city in Diyala province The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) assigned refugee status to these individuals, promising that all the necessary arrangements would be made in near future and they would be sent to another country. These 200 individuals were detained against their will in TIPF. Lt. Col. Amy F. Turluck was the American director of the camp.
150 individuals started a peaceful vigil. Their main request was to leave the camp. This vigil was suppressed by 150 anti-insurgent US guards who used pepper spray and guns. The guards arrested all the representative of the group, in addition to some individuals. The arrested individuals were then sent to solitary confinement for several months and were later transported to a smaller camp.
The Iraqi government issued Laissez Passers for these refugees and informed them that with these Laissez Passers they could leave the TIPF camp and Iraq. The Laissez passers and the money of theses refugees were confiscated by Lt. Col Turluck and they were told that they could not leave the camp or Iraq.
On many occasions the refugees asked Colonel Turluck to return their Laissez Passers
and money so that they could leave the camp, but to no avail.
The American military authorities also told them that the Iraqi government would not allow them to leave the country and that they would need visas for leaving Iraq. The relatives of these refugees went to the Iraqi Embassy in Tehran to inquire about the situation. They were told that the Iraqi government had already issued the Laissez Passers and that these refugees were free to leave the camp, acquire visa from a country and leave Iraq. These relatives also approached the Turkish Embassy in Tehran to find out if the Turkish government would issue visas to these refugees. They were informed that Turkey via its embassy in Iraq was prepared to grant visas to these 200 refugees if they applied in person. The refugees, however, were constantly told by the camp authorities that they have only the following two options. 1. To rejoin the PMOI (even though the PMOI is on the black list, i.e. it is considered
to be a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union).
2. To go back to Iran (even though they could be executed by the Iranian regime).
· Twenty individuals started another peaceful vigil. This time Col. Turluck threatened to suppress the vigil once again if they did not stop it. Five of these individuals went on a hunger strike and as a result were placed in solitary confinement. They could not have any visitors and could not call their families.
· On October 8th, one individual was taken to the camp hospital and nobody was allowed to visit him. By October 12, after being on hunger strike for 29 days, he was told by the American authorities that if he would not break his hunger strike they would take him to Booka prison, cut his stomach open and would then force feed him. This individual was later transported to Krapeh hospital prison, which is usually used for members of Alghaedeh.
· On October 8th, the other four individuals had been on hunger strike for 15 days, 12 days, 11 days and 9 days. One individual who was kept in the hospital of the camp had internal bleeding and had vomited blood. Col. Turluck visited these individual in their cells and told them that they should write their will and indicate where they wanted to be buried. These individuals were constantly being harassed by the American authorities to end their strike.
· On October 13 Colonel Turluck announced that the Laissez Passers would be returned to all the refugees. While visiting the refugees on hunger strike in the solitary confinement, she promised them that if they broke their strike, their Laissez Passers would be retuned and they would be taken to Mousel.
The refugees on hunger strike ended their strike and returned to the camp.
· Colonel Turluck had promised that the voluntary project of re-location to Musel would be finalized by the end of October.
· On October 22nd, these refugees were informed that due to the security reasons, they would not be allowed to use the phone.
· By the end of October it became evident that the project of re-location to Musel was not going to materialize.
· By early November as the lies about re-location to Musel became evident, those who had broken their hunger strike started another hunger strike.
· By November 20th, one of these individuals had been on hunger strike for 9 days.
· On November 18 th , sometimes during the night, five of these individuals, who were on hunger strike, were taken out of the camp and were left on a nearby road.
· Before leaving the camp, the camp authorities videotaped these individuals. In these videotapes they were asked to state that they were leaving the camp on their own free will.
· Few days later five more individuals were taken out of the camp at night and were abandoned on the nearby road.
· By now 20 individuals have been taken out of the camp in the dark of the night and have been dropped off somewhere close to the camp.
· These abandoned individuals are in danger any time they come across an American checkpoint, the head hunters of the Iranian regime and the dangerous gangs and individuals in Iraq.
· By November, the previous director of the camp, Col. Turluck, was replaced by Officer Harmon.
· On December 17 two individuals who had left the camp and were residing in a hotel, left their friend in the hotel for an outing. They have not been heard from since then and no one has any information of their whereabouts.
· On December 18 six more individuals were taken out of the camp and were left on a nearby road. No one has heard from these individuals since then.
Conditions at the camp
· No access to outside/denied to see a lawyer
· No access to the internet
· The limited letters, e-mails and phone calls are censored and monitored. If the refugees talk about their condition in the camp on the phone, the American authorities threaten them with losing the right to use the phone. Some emails were never sent and the complaints remain unanswered.
· Limited medical services in the camp
· No medical services outside the camp
· A prisoner, who is going blind and needs immediate surgery, is not allowed to go to Baghdad for the operation.
· Water shortage- no water on some days and on other days 3-4 hours at most, for months at a time
· The refugees live in tents.
· Constant mal-treatment and torture - In one occasion, these refugees denied entry to their tents to an American soldier who refused to remove his boots. (They pray in the tents and therefore everybody must remove their shoes prior to entering the tent). The angry soldier beat them up and broke the shoulder of one of them. Needles to say, the broken shoulder was never treated medically.
· There have been fifty incidents such as this resulting in the batter and injury of these refugees.
· When these refugees go on hunger strike, they are immediately moved into solitary confinement and they lose all their privileges such as visits by their friends or contacting their families by phone.
· There is evidence of cooperation between American authorities and PMOI. Once in a while some members of the PMOI are brought into the camp. They mingle with the refugees and try to get as much information as possible. They then pass the information to the American authorities and leave the camp. Two of these PMOI spies are presently living in Germany.