Praying for all of the Hanifs in Iran

3 09 2009

By Hajar Mojtahedzadeh, Connecticut

One of many global protests against Iran’s disputed election and the regime’s actions against those standing up for justice and human rights that took place this this summer. This protest was in San Francisco (CA). Photo credit John Green, AP Images

The last thing I ever expected to see when I turned on the TV was my brother being severely beaten up by thugs. But on July 28, Hanif, 28 was drenched in blood, brutally beaten with a baton by members of Nuri-Al Maleki’s forces assigned to raid the Iranian Resistance at Camp Ashraf – located in Diyala Province (Iraq).

“It was excruciating to hear my brothers’ audible cries for help on TV.” -Hajar Mojtahedzadeh

American Humvees, guns, tear gas, planks of wood and axes were used in the attack against the People’s Mojahedin of Iran – considered Iran’s strongest opposition movement and best hope to defeat the Iranian regime. Iran’s Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei had turned to his allies and agents in the Iraqi government for a favor – Take out this group which the regime has fought for the last 30 years. Iraq’s forces wounded 500 people, killed 11 and took 36 people hostage.

It was excruciating to hear my brothers’ audible cries for help on TV. And now, even after being savagely beaten he is in danger of being extradited to Tehran. The regime has been demanding the turnover of members of the Resistance group for years.

Although Hanif is only five years older that I am, he is like a father figure to me. Our father was killed by the Iranian regime’s forces 21 years ago when I was two years old. Our mother was killed tragically in a car accident at Camp Ashraf 16 years ago.

As our deceased parents’ only children we are fiercely protective of each other. I refuse to lose the last remaining member of my family to the murderous, pathological strategies of the Iranian regime.

Since the vicious attack, Iranians in exile have been holding 24/7 hunger strikes in front of US embassies throughout the world, as well as in front of the White House. It is in front of the White House where I am spending most of my summer.

Our message to President Obama is quite simple – the US is responsible for the protection of each and every member at Camp Ashraf under Article 45 of the 4th Geneva Convention. In good faith the Iranian Resistance voluntarily disarmed themselves in exchange for US security in 2003. Until other options are provided and confirmed, the US has agreed to provide them with this protection.

But there was no protection when it was needed. The unanswered question is why?

We, the family members of the residents of Camp Ashraf hold the US responsible for upholding these legal guarantees. We demand the return of the 36 hostages, as well as the removal of the Iraqi forces within the camp, as they continue to pose a serious threat to the safety of our loved ones, particularly to the 1,000 women residing in Ashraf.

“Let’s hope that President Obama backs up US commitments of protection to those living in Ashraf. Otherwise so much for the slogans “yes we can” and “the change we need” that Obama promised us, Americans.” -Hajar Mojtahedzadeh

We also demand the US Army temporarily become responsible for the protection of the people in Ashraf until the UN establishes a monitoring team.

The US is bound by international, humanitarian, as well as contractual law, to guarantee the protection of the Camp’s residents, including my brother, Hanif.

As an Iranian American whose country of origin is Iran I have rejoiced in knowing that over the summer the world has come to see a different side of Iran. They have heard the people’s cries of freedom – “Down with the dictator” echoed from Tehran to Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz and elsewhere throughout Iran.

While hundreds have been killed, thousands have been arrested and thousands more wounded the world has seen that the protestors haven’t given up their fight for freedom. And the Iranian leaders know very well that the only way they will be able to suppress these protests is if they take away people’s hopes and inspirations.

Let’s hope the Obama administration recognizes the courage and bravery of so many Iranians like my brother, Hanif. Let’s hope that President Obama backs up US commitments of protection to those living in Ashraf. Otherwise so much for the slogans “yes we can” and “the change we need” that Obama promised us, Americans.


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