Eyewitness: condition at Liberty was one hundred percent better than Ashraf

SFF interviews Hassan Sharqi

Mr. Hassan Sharqi who could release himself from Camp Liberty (Temporary Transit Location) SFF interviews Hassan Sharqion August 22nd, 2012 was interviewed by Sahar Family Foundation a few days after his defection. The following is the interview which was translated by Nejat Society.

SFF: Please introduce yourself.

Hassan Sharqi: I am Hassan Sharqi. I was taken as a War Prisoner by Iraqi forces in 1980 and I was in Iraq POW’s camps for 9 years. I joined the MKO in 1981 because of the difficult conditions in Iraqi camps. After a while, I found out that I was detained in a worse situation. I still had to stay imprisoned but this time in the cult of Rajavi. I asked to leave the organization twice, in 2008 and in 2012 but they didn’t accept my demand. Instead, they held long-time meetings to punish me. Since Camp Liberty belongs to the United Nations, I decided to announce my defection during the interview and not to get back to the organization.

SFF: During the years you were in the MKO, how many times did you contact with your family?

HS: Except the nine years of my imprisonment in Iraqi prison that I used to write letter, I had no contact with my family during the 24 years that I was in Camp Ashraf. About one and a half years ago, my brother called to me via loudspeakers from the eastern side of the Camp. He wanted to visit me but I wasn’t allowed to meet him because of the severe controlling
conditions in the group and the way the officials treated us. My brother is back in Iran now.

SFF: how influential was the families’ presence at the camp?

HS: it was extra ordinarily influential. When their voice was heard in the camp, it was very motivating. Members are stuck there, they are waiting the day they can join their family. Some could risk and escape the camp to set themselves free. After each escape, supervision and guarding was enhanced so it became harder and harder for others to leave the Camp.

SFF: what kind of communication facilities did you have in the Camp?

HS: I, myself had no access to communication tools like cell phone, telephone or the Internet. These tools were only accessible for high ranking members.

SFF: why doesn’t the MKO allow members to contact their families?

HS: mainly because they fear the collapse of the cult. They fear that members be absorbed by the families. That’s why Massoud Rajavi, the cult leader, calls the families as mercenary and enemy. He is afraid of them. He says that the Iranian regime wants to stop you by wife and life and eventually to stop you from struggling.

SFF: In which phase were you transferred to TTL?

HS: I was moved in the third convoy.

SFF: can you describe the condition at Camp Liberty?

HS: about water, electricity, food and settlement facilities, I believe that the condition at Liberty was one hundred percent better than Camp Ashraf. American forces have previously been in TTL, they’ve left their equipments there and now the MKO is using them. About kitchen and preservation equipments, Camp Ashraf has never had such amenities.
About living conditions, if the authorities housed the members according to what the UNHCR had assigned, the place would be the best. The beds and closets are very good. Each Conex has three air conditioners. But out of 40 Conexes the authorities allocated only 20 ones to members’ accommodation and the rest were allocated to offices and working place.

SFF: the MKO says that it had no possibility for planting trees? What does it mean?

HS: in my idea, there is no need for planting trees or building side walks and streets if the site is a temporary one, there is no need for asphalted streets. They want to make a new base because they’re losing Ashraf. What they do has nothing to do with a Temporary Transit Location. Secondly, everyone knows that planting trees in this hot season is a vain work. The trees will go dry. This is just to keep members busy so that they cannot think of anything else.

SFF: did the MKO conserve its organizational structure at Camp Liberty?

HS: yes, it did . They accepted to move to liberty because Iraqi forces were not involved. Camp Ashraf consist three parts. They moved them all to Liberty. They didn’t want the organizational structure to be understood. They divided the forces in 40 quarters that were given to them. They separated each part from the others using curtains because they didn’t want forces of each unit communicate with the other one. You may not believe that in the world of satellites and the Internet, we weren’t able to communicate with the person next to us. They disagree with any form of communication devices. Brainwashing sessions including Current Operation, Weekly Cleansing and Organizational meetings were held more severely and more frequently than the ones that were held at camp Ashraf.

SFF: where was your interview with UNAMI?

HS: on August22, I was interviewed by UNAMI representatives who were installed in camp Liberty together with 15 other members.

SFF: did they hold any meeting for you before the interview?

HS: yes, on August 21, I was told to be at the commandant’s office at 9 O’clock. Two officials, Rasoul and Mohammad Bakhshayee tried to manipulate our minds about the following day’s interview. The meeting took three and a half hours long. They told us that we should claim that the conditions of life were not good at liberty and we had problems with water and electricity. We had to say that we had had contacts with our families before coming to liberty and we had no meetings except Current Operation. They asked us to say that food supplies were very little and Iraqi forces didn’t let us reach food easily. They told us to tell lies.

SFF: why did you decide to leave the group?

HS: I spent 33 years of my life in camp Rumadia (9 years) and Camp Ashraf (24 years) as a prisoner. I found out that the MKO was a liar and just wanted to maintain its establishment from collapse. Thus, I asked to leave the group twice but they refused my demand. On the interview day, I used the opportunity and said everything to the authorities of HCR. I told them about the reality of the organization and that I didn’t want to get back any more. I was serious in my decision.

SFF: do you think there are other people in the group who are willing to leave it?

HS: during the years of imprisonment, the MKO has manipulated members by brainwashing sessions and deceitful words of leaders so no one is able to make a serious decision until he is helped from the outside world. They have no idea of the world they would enter after defection.

SFF: what do you want to do after your release?

HS: First of all, I want to hire an attorney to sue the MKO leaders in Iraqi judiciary in order to reveal the atrocities they committed against me in those 24 years. Then, I’m determined to return to my country even if I am alive for a few days. I am an Iranian; I shouldn’t be far from my territory.

SFF: Thanks for your time.

HS: thank you, I know that SFF has played a major role to denounce the Cult of Rajavi. I want to continue denouncing Massoud Rajavi and the crimes he committed.

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