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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

HRW: Torture and ill-treatment of Iraqi detainees

A report entitled The New Iraq? Torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Iraqi custody is released by Human Rights Watch. Subsequently left-leaning media take up the story.

It is reported that Iraqi police, jailers and intelligence agents, many of them holding the same jobs they had under Hussein, are "committing systematic torture and other abuses" of detainees. "The majority of detainees . . . stated that torture and ill-treatment during the initial period was commonplace" in jails run by the Interior Ministry, the report says. The abuses included "routine beatings . . . using cables, [rubber] hose-pipes and metal rods . . . kicking, slapping and punching, prolonged suspension from the wrists," as well as electric shocks to the genitals and long periods spent blindfolded and handcuffed.

Several of the detainees claim that US Marines were present and observed their torture. The report relates "the only known case in which U.S. forces intervened to stop detainee abuse." It said scouts from an Oregon Army National Guard unit saw Iraqi guards at an Interior Ministry compound abusing detainees on June 29. A soldier took pictures through his rifle scope of detainees who were blindfolded and bound.

According to an account related in the report by Capt. Jarrell Southal of the National Guard, his soldiers entered the compound and found bound prisoners "writhing in pain" and complaining of lack of water. They gave water to the men, moved them out of the sun and then disarmed the Iraqi police. But when the Oregon soldiers radioed up their chain of command for instructions, they were ordered to "return the prisoners to the Iraqi authorities and leave the detention yard."


Blogger Omar said...

Unbelievable.. And the world thinks everything has been fine after Abu Ghareeb.. I guess the only way to retaliate is by making such blogs..

14/3/05 5:12 am  
Blogger elendil said...

Sometimes I wonder if it was a bad thing that Abu Ghraib came out in the way that it did. You'll notice that I give it short treatment (mainly because there's plenty of info elsewhere). What happened at Abu Ghraib was (1) mild compared to other places (2) did not conform to 'standard practice'. By the latter I mean that, if pictures had come out of Syria/Egypt/Uzbekistan simultaneously, that would have been indicative of what's happening all throughout the rendition program, and it would have showed the true harshness of the policy. As it is, what we got was abuse that the apologists could deny was torture, and excuse as a few bad apples.

As for retaliation ... actually, this is more for persuasion than retaliation. Governments will do what governments have always done, however, the people ... If I'm retaliating against anyone here, it is the passive participators who allow this to happen.

When I was little I first saw the mounds of bodies from Nazi camps (I know it's a cliche to bring up the Nazis, but bare with me), my first question was: how could ordinary people permit this? Why didn't the people of Germany rise up and stop it?

I still don't fully know the answer to that question. Perhaps most of them just had no idea what was going on[1]. I suspect that most US, UK people don't know what's going on. Their ignorance is affording them a thin veil of innocence. Well, I hope that I can strip that away. I'll take away their innocence the moment they read this blog, and maybe in the process I'll regain some of mine.

But there's 'knowing' something, and then there's knowing something.

Compiling this blog was time-consuming, but it wasn't impossible. This information *is* out there, though perhaps not in an easily digestible format. For all intents and purposes, we *know* what is going on, we just don't want to know.

Anyway, I want little kids in the future to know that we knew. I want them to know that some of us had a problem with it, some of us did something about it, but that most of us excused in the name of partisan politics. We all imagine that if we were back in Nazi Germany or any injust regime, that we would fight against it and be a voice for justice, but when it comes to home-grown injustice, very few of us are.

Maybe the kids should learn that -- just how easy it is to sell out. Humankind has got to learn it's limitations

[1]: although the fact that the Danes had their own 'rendition' program to help Danish Jews escape to Sweden suggests this might be bollocks.

16/3/05 9:32 am  

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