October 24, 2017

Camp Liberty physicians call on UN officials to end medical siege by Iraqi government

Camp Liberty No. 67

Martin Kobler depicts a false picture to let Iraq escape from consequences of medical siege

NCRI- In a joint letter to Mrs. Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, nine physicians residing in Camp Liberty and the residents’ legal advisor detailed the case of Behruz Rahimian, the camp resident who was slain due to obstruction made by Iraqi intelligence agents preventing him receiving proper medical treatment. The letter also detailed the way Iraqi intelligence agents treated Mr. Rahimain particularly on 25 November 2012, the day he was transferred to hospital.

Physicians at Camp Liberty wrote that if the agents had not prevented Rahimain from being hospitalized in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU), most probably he would not have been faced with such a condition.
The doctors, who have been dealing with medical affairs of the residents in Camp Ashraf for 25 years, described the medical situation in Liberty and asked the High Commissioner for her intervention in to put an end to the inhumane medical siege in Camp Liberty by Government of Iraq.

The letter, which is also signed the interpreter accompanying Rahimain in his last visit to the hospital, describes the Martin Kobler’ remarks in a letter to the residents’ representative on December 26 and to Associated Press on December 27 as a failed attempt to depicts a false picture to let the Government of Iraq escape the consequences of torturing patients to death. Kobler claimed that “his condition was assessed by doctors there as not requiring hospitalization” and he “does not have any indication so far that treatment was obstructed by the Iraqi authorities.”  The physicians wrote in their letter that hereby he is blaming the victim instead of oppressor.

Copies of the letter have been sent to the UN Secretary General and his political deputy, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Special Representative to the U.S. Secretary of State, Special Representative to the UN Secretary General for Iraq and his deputy, and many other international personalities.

The letter noted that Rahimain’s interpreter while in hospital twice called head of UNAMI monitoring team in Camp Liberty seeking help but he was asked to show restraint and  he was promised that the issue would be followed up. However nothing was resolved and the patient and his interpreter returned to Camp Liberty in tense situation created by the Iraqi agents.

The physicians’ report adds that although Rahimain was very tolerant, on the way back from the hospital and the days after he was very upset with those agents’ behavior that he described as psychological torture.

The physicians underscored that Rahimain case is not the first and would not be the last unless there is an end to the restrictions and obstructions imposed by the Iraqi government against the residents.

Among many issues that limmits the Camp Liberty residents free access to medical services the physicians highlighted the following:

• The number of serious patients at Camp Liberty is over 800 to include many of those injured in July 2009 and April 2011 attacks in Camp Ashraf. An Iraqi general practitioner at Camp Liberty is unable to prioritize over 800 patients in need of appointments with specialists in Baghdad. This primary health center has the capacity to provide care for 15 patients a day.

• In period of 304 days in 2012 (February 20 to December 20)  255 patients were tsken to Baghdad for treatment while 216 more patients recommended by the camp clinic to visit specialists in Baghdad, are still waiting in line. They have not been taken to Baghdad even once. Also, 148 patients are in line for surgery. (see the chart)

• This clinic has only one ambulance and most of the times the patients and their caretakers are taken in very cramped and harsh conditions. Therefore, even if we presume no new patient is added, it will take more than two years just to finalize the cases of current patients.

• The Iraqi government does not allow to transfer our own hospital and medical equipment, including the CT scan device from Camp Ashraf clinic to Camp Liberty. We used the equipment to provide treatment for our ordinary patients and keep our serious patients under observation. These devices and equipment were used by the residents during the past 26 years, including when US forces were in charge of Camp Ashraf’s security. Depriving the residents from the facilities is aimed at torturing to death the refugees with illnesses at Camp Liberty.

• Since two months ago the agents affiliated to Iraqi Prime Ministry office have been accompanying patients causing serious obstructions in the affairs regarding their treatment such that the patients persistently complain that they are subjected to psychological torture, insults and degrading behavior by the agents. These agents sometimes even do not allow the patient to visit a doctor privately. They insist that the patient or his interpreter talk to the doctor only in Arabic.

These persecutions and harassments have been reported in 31 reports in November and December 2012 to Martin Kobler and his deputy Mr. Busztin; Mr. Francesco Motta in UNAMI’s Human Rights Office; and Ms. Claire Bourgeois in UNHCR. Besides, in October, November and December 2012, the residents’ representative and their legal advisor brought up the issues with Iraqi officials in Camp Liberty at the presence of UNAMI representative in at least nine meetings on October 16, 30 and 31; November 4, 6, 13 and 20; and December 6 and 18. Those officials promised that the agents would not interfere in medical affairs and would not harass the patients anymore. But those pledges not only have never been met, but harassments have been intensified.
• In meetings with UNAMI officials on October 9, 15, 17, 18, 23 and 25; November 1, 2, 5, 6, 20, 25 and 27; and December 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 15, 22 and 23, the issue of patients’ problems and their harassment and torment in going to hospitals have been brought up by residents’ representatives and legal advisor, but to no avail.

• In all abovementioned reports and meetings, all cases of violation of basic rights of the residents such as their free access to medicine and doctors, having interpreter and a nurse to accompany the patient, privacy of doctor and patient relationship, as well as various examples of preventing patients from being hospitalized, cancelling appointments, preventing purchase of medication, and deliberate delays in leaving the camp have been explained.

In their letter to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the nine physicians residing in Camp Liberty asked for her intervention to resolve three specific problems.
First: prevent any interference by elements of Iraqi intelligence and Prime Ministry Office in the medical affairs of residents;

Second:  Increase to 10 the number of patients that are taken to hospitals in Baghdad each day.  If it is necessary to increase the number of ambulances and drivers, the residents’ ambulances could be transferred from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty, and drivers will be hired at the residents’ own expense.

Third: Transfer of residents’ medical equipment from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty to be used as before to improve medical care for them.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
December 30, 2012