Oregon Army National Guardsmen responded to reports of what appeared to be prisoner abuse June 29 at the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. The Guard soldiers disarmed the Iraqi policemen and gave first aid to the detainees. The Oregon guardsmen were later ordered to stand down, handing the prisoners back over to the Iraqi officials. Many of the prisoners had fresh welts and bruises. Soldiers also found metal rods, rubber hoses, unknown chemicals and exposed electrical wires that appeared to have been used to torture the prisoners, many whom appeared to be non-Arab immigrants. Photos by U.S. military soldiers.
Abu Ghraib Victims Speak
Most recent polls show between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of Iraqis call Americans not liberators, but occupiers. And by a clear majority, Iraqis want Americans to leave the country as soon as possible. How did America lose the Iraqis' support? As ABC News reporter Dave Marash notes, for many Iraqis, the answer is Abu Ghraib.
Saddam Saleh al-Radi, a former Abu Ghraib detainee, was jailed in Abu Ghraib twice - the first time for trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein in the mid-1990s. "What U.S. forces did to me, Saddam Hussein himself did not do," al-Radi said through a translator. "During Saddam Hussein's time, we used to be tortured. The scars from the torture I received during the previous regime still mark parts of my body. But I was never forced into nudity. There were never any immoral practices during Saddam Hussein's regime."
Al-Radi said he was arrested in late November after he reported to police a suspicious car wired with explosives driven by a man he knew to be a criminal.
Once in his cell, al-Radi said, he was forced, still hooded, down on his hands and knees. "He pulled the bag off my head, and I saw something I have never seen in my life: A man's buttocks were facing me, and he was completely naked, [and] so were the others with him," al-Radi said. "I'm 29 years old. Since I'm mature, around the age of 13 to 14 years, until today, no one has ever seen me naked. Nor have I seen anyone naked at all For others to see my naked body, this is haram, forbidden for me. God will not accept this."
Haj Ali Shallal Abbas, a community mayor in the town of Abu Ghraib, said: "I contacted the U.S. military base on Oct. 13, to inquire about young men from our area who have been arrested." He says he was just doing his job when he was tossed into the prison, into the clutches of abusive soldiers. Abbas thinks he has been singled out for special treatment because he has a badly defective left hand. Every day, Abbas said, "Cpl. Charles Graner made me put my hand out in the cell bars and would stomp with his boots on this hand." His doctor now says Abbas' hand can never be repaired.
After her arrest, shopkeeper Mithaal Sultan al-Hasani, who is in her late 50s, said she had to endure something forbidden under the Geneva Conventions. "My son was beaten in front of my eyes," al-Hasani said through a translator. "The hood was over his head. And he was dragged on the floor. And he was pushed into the walls."
Her son was released the same day he was beaten, something that was kept from al-Hasani during her whole three months in prison. "For six days, the hood was not removed from my head," she said. "Neither were my handcuffs taken off. When they pushed a young girl into my cell, she had a hood on. And I thought it was my daughter. But when I removed the hood, it was someone else. I broke down."
In Iraq, hundreds of families have stories like these, of imprisonment that was allegedly undeserved, unnecessarily prolonged, and sometimes brutal as well. The stories, and the legends that grow up around them, could be a major impediment to future Iraqi-American friendship.
Note: The above
is an extract of Dave Marashs report.
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