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Special report on prisoners of the US occupation in Iraq

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  • thekoba@aztecfreenet.org
    ================= Begin forwarded message ================= Dear Kevin, The following is a translation of a report in Tuesday s issue of a Jordanian newspaper
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 26, 2004
      ================= Begin forwarded message =================

      Dear Kevin,

      The following is a translation of a report in
      Tuesday's issue of a Jordanian newspaper based on
      interviews of Iraqis released from American prison
      camps in occupied Iraq.

      It's part of my up-coming resistance report, but my
      experience is that western activists can get their
      teeth into this sort of story which has a kind of
      "human rights" angle and therefore is widely popular.
      So I want to get it out right away, even though it's
      really not much different from what I translated when
      the first prisoners were released a few weeks ago.

      The story appears in the PDF version of the paper on
      page 12. The newspaper editors have not chosen to
      include the story among the stories they have
      published in html, however, so there's no specific URL
      for this specific story, only for the PDF version of
      the page on which it appears.




      Special Report from al-Arab al-Yawm on Iraqi prisons.

      According to a report by Ahmad Sabri carried in
      Tuesday's edition of the Jordanian newspaper al-Arab
      al-Yawm, Iraqis who have been held prisoner by the
      American occupation forces have been subjected to most
      brutal forms of physical and psychological torture in
      five large detention camps, particularly those at Abu
      Ghurayb, west of Baghdad, and Umm Qasr, near al-Basrah
      in the south.

      Former prisoners have offered testimonials on the
      inhuman practices of the occupation authorities to the
      newspaper al-Arab al-Yawm, saying that the number of
      those imprisoned by the occupation authorities exceeds
      10,000 prisoners and that the release of some of them
      early in January cam as a result of intense
      overcrowding of the prisons and concentration camps,
      in addition to the fact that the arrests were
      arbitrary and based on no evidence, and that no real
      charges were ever filed against the prisoners. Most
      of the prisoners, in fact, were civilian citizens
      arrested for "suspicion" � something that pertains to
      every Iraqi in the eyes of the occupation forces.

      In their testimonies, the former prisoners disclosed
      having seen a number of former Iraqi officials
      arrested and fettered and held in solitary confinement
      cells without any consideration for their health or
      the conditions of their confinement in the cases of
      many of these individuals.

      The following is a translation of the story written by
      Ahmad Sabri, Baghdad correspondent for al-Arab al-Yawm
      and published in that newspaper's edition for Tuesday,
      27 January 2004.

      Baghdad � al-Arab al-Yawm � by Ahmad Sabri. Iraqi
      prisoners released by the American occupation forces
      recently are describing what they were subjected to
      during the periods of their detention and how and
      where they were arrested. In talks with al-Arab
      al-Yawm they have disclosed that Abu Ghurayb central
      prison camp, in which thousands of Iraqis are being
      held, was subjected on several occasions to mortar
      attacks resulting in the death of dozens of the
      prisoners and the American forces charged with
      controlling the prison camp.

      Prisoner 'Ali Mahmud, who spent about five months in
      five different prison camps in various parts of Iraq
      before winding up in Abu Ghurayb, said that the charge
      against him was not based on any evidence but was
      merely slander. Yet the way he was captured was
      outrageous. "They raided my home in al-Karakh
      district late at night, provocatively wrecking our
      household goods. They stole five million dinars from
      my house and arrested three of my sons."

      Mahmud said that the investigators used psychological
      torture on him throughout long hours of interrogation
      sessions during which his hands and feet were bound in
      iron chains.

      Mahmud, who is known as 'Ali Mama, did not claim that
      he was beaten but said that some of the investigators
      used threats and intimidation regarding what would
      happen to him if he did not confess to his connections
      with Saddam and wit the so-called Army of Muhammad,
      connections with which he denied. Because he denied
      any connection with the Resistance, Mahmud says he was
      stripped naked and confined to an empty cell.

      Mahmud described how during his imprisonment there he
      was subjected to a harsh form of punishment in which
      the jailers would pour water on his naked body,
      bringing on sickness. "I got terrible diarrhea and
      have fainting spells which I am now seeing a doctor

      Mahmud described the food as "poor", saying that it is
      insufficient for the prisoners. He said that an Iraqi
      contractor prepares the food, which he said was

      'Ali Mahmud said that during his time of incarceration
      there, Abu Ghurayb prison camp was on several times
      subjected to mortar attacks which left dozens of
      prisoners and some American occupation soldiers dead.
      He said that tents pitched on the dirt are "home" to
      most of the prisoners in the prison camps of
      ar-Ridwaniyah, Abu al-Khasib, al-Baghdadi, and parts
      of Abu Ghurayb prison camp.

      Mahmud estimated the number of Iraqi prisoners in the
      camps that he spent time in during his five months of
      detention as being more than 10,000 prisoners. He
      said that the reason for the release of prisoners is
      that the prisons have filled up and are seriously

      Asked whether he had seen Iraqi officials during his
      time of imprisonment he answered: "Yes, I saw Iraqi
      officials. They were in miserable conditions. They
      have no care, and were badly treated. Among them was
      Saadun Hammadi, Speaker of the Iraqi National
      Assembly; Minister of Trade Muhammad Mahdi Salih; and
      Samir an-Najm; and high-ranking Iraqi Army officers."

      Mahmud noted that the American forces had not allowed
      him any contact with his family nor was he allowed to
      send any letters or receive any visits from officials
      of the Red Cross Organization.

      Another prisoner released in the first batch of prison
      releases a few weeks back hails from the city of
      al-Fallujah. I met Hamed 'Abdallah in front of Abu
      Ghurayb prison camp. He told me "the charge against
      me was possession of unlicensed weapons and that I
      aided the Resistance fighters. I denied this totally.
      I explained that I am a student in my last stages of
      study and that the American forces' raid on my home
      came as a total surprise."

      "They took me to Abu Ghurayb prison," Hamed 'Abdallah
      explained, "where I spent most of the three months
      that I spent incarcerated."

      Hamed 'Abdallah said that the conditions in prison
      were "bad", causing him to break his leg and suffer
      serious pains in his spinal cord as a result of what
      he said was the intense torture whose severity he
      managed to endure.

      He said that prisoners from al-Fallujah are singled
      out for specially harsh and brutal treatment because
      the American occupation forces in the area of the city
      come under Resistance attack virtually every day.
      This leaves a negative impression on the al-Fallujah
      prisoners who, he estimated, number in the hundreds in
      the American prison camps.

      Hamed 'Abdallah said that the US forces put cameras up
      in every part of the prison camp to observe the
      prisoners and monitor their movements and
      communications, as a result of which dozens of them
      were isolated and tortured, in order to prevent their
      communicating among themselves.

      A religious leader from the city of Mosul, Ghanim
      Dhannun, described the treatment he received from the
      American interrogators as "harsh and inhuman." He
      said, "They have no respect for a man of religion or a
      learned religious scholar or for a person of great
      age." Ghanim Dhannun said that he spent most of his
      time incarcerated in the prison at the Port of Umm
      Qasr in the city of al-Basrah, in the south of Iraq.
      He said that he was subjected to humiliation and long
      interrogation sessions that no person could stand.

      As to the charges against him, Ghanim Dhannun said
      that most of the prisoners are charged with
      cooperating with the Iraqi Resistance. He said,
      however, that he was not working with the Resistance
      and had no connection with any attacks on the American
      occupation forces.

      He said that he saw dozens of Iraqi officials shackled
      in iron chains and held in solitary confinement cells,
      but he declined to name any of them.

      He concluded by saying that the US practice of making
      the release of prisoners contingent upon their
      pledging not to oppose the occupation and upon getting
      some well-known person in their home area to agree to
      be responsible for them is a dangerous precedent that
      is not justified by law or the principles of human

      Student Haytham 'Abdallah, who spent months in Abu
      Ghurayb prison camp described the conditions of his
      imprisonment and those of the others in the camp as
      "tragic, unbearable, and in violation of all
      humanitarian provisions."

      He said: "My case basically is that I happened to be
      passing by a particular street in the al-Jihad
      neighborhood of Baghdad at a time when an American
      column came under attack. I suddenly found myself
      surrounded by soldiers. They asked, 'Where are the
      rest of your group?'. Despite my denials and calls
      for help, they took me to a jail after blindfolding me
      and tying my hands." He said that he was beaten and
      kicked and denied food and water for two consecutive

      He described clashes that took place between the
      detainees in Abu Ghurayb prison camp and the guards.
      "They broke out because of the bad treatment and
      because the prison authorities refused to allow any
      contact between the prisoners and their families. In
      addition there was the factor of prison conditions �
      the food, the place, and the bad treatment."

      Haytham 'Abdallah said that the prison authorities
      reacted harshly to the protesters. First they opened
      fire into the air and then they wounded many of them.
      He thought it probable that a number of the wounded
      prisoners had subsequently died of their wounds.

      Sources: al-Arab al-Yawm daily newspaper, Amman,
      Jordan, Tuesday 27 January 2004.

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      "Judge not a man to be virtuous who is loved by all. Rather judge a man to be
      virtuous who is loved by all the good people and hated by all the bad people."

      --Kung Fu Tzu (Confucius)
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