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Sunday, September 14, 2003

Incident: "Selwa" detained, raped

[Author's note: There are strong similarities between Selwa's story, the story of Um Taha, and a story told to Mithal Hassan while she was detained at Abu Ghraib.]

Today, according to an interview she will give The American Prospect's Tara McKelvey, US forces will invade "Selwa's" home. She is the wealthy 55 year old wife of "Saddan", a director in the Ministry of Commerce. Exactly one month previous, they had taken her husband Saddan, and taken $US 315,000 and $12,000 Iraqi dinar. He was considered a high-value detainee. Today, they will take her into custody.

While detained, she claims that the following incidents occurred:

  • She was forced to crouch on the ground in 100-degree weather holding her arms above her head
  • She was forced to stir a barrel of human feces that had been set alight with a heavy club.
  • When she stated that she could not do it, the sergeant threatened her with rape by saying "If you don't, I will tell one of the soldiers to fuck you."
  • She then continued stirring the waste until she fainted from exhaustion 2 hours later (the woman was 55 years old).
When asked by the American reporter if she had been sexually abused, Selwa denies it. However, the reporter subsequently spoke to Sundus, who was hired by lawyer Susan Burke to interview detainees. Quoting from the article
Sundus explains how Selwa and Selwa's sister came to her office last August. Selwa said she wanted to speak about her detention privately. Her sister left the room. Then Selwa sat down with Sundus. "They did everything bad to me, and may God take them all to hell," Selwa told her. "She began to weep bitterly," recalls Sundus. "She didn't tell the truth to her family."
Selwa's son in law, "Nabil", also claims that soldiers were raping women in detention. He tells the reporter the following story of his stay in Abu Ghraib.
In November or December, I really can't remember, I was in a room and could hear sounds coming from outside. The windows were broken, and they were covered with wooden panels. Sometimes I could hear screams and shouts. Women were calling for mercy. There were also children between the ages of 10 and 12. The children became hysterical. I was told the women were tortured in front of their children. One day, a sheik came back from a medical clinic where he'd been treated. He was in tears. 'What happened?' we asked. He told us he had seen a young girl, 15 years old, with internal bleeding. She had been raped over and over again by the soldiers, and she could no longer talk. He is a deeply religious man. But that night, he shouted at Allah. 'How is it possible that you are there and these things are happening?!' he said.

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