Special report on prisoners of the US occupation in Iraq
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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
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
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
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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--Kung Fu Tzu (Confucius)