Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Saddam's Prisoners Recall True Abuse at Abu Ghraib
By Guest Blogger - Charles Wilhelm

With all the press coverage of the recent goings on at the Abu Ghraib prison, it seems people have lost sight of the abuses that went on in that very same facility when Saddam Hussein was in power. Ibrahim Idrissi, president of the Association for Free Prisoners, is working to document these abuses and make sure they are not forgotten. Idrissi was a political prisioner at Abu Ghraib himself, and gives a very chilling description of just one of the many incidents he witnessed. He says it makes anything the U.S. has done there look like a joke in comparison.

From Lebanon's The Daily Star:

Ibrahim Idrissi has mixed feelings about the recent uproar caused by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib under the US occupation. "As a humanitarian organization, we oppose this," he says. "But these are soldiers who have come to Iraq to fight, not to be prison guards. It was to be expected. Of course, if there are innocent people in there ... it is possible, I guess, that some of them are innocent."

If Idrissi seems a bit callous about the fate of the Iraqis in US-run jails, he has probably earned the right to differ. He recalls a day in 1982, at the General Security prison in Baghdad:

"They called all the prisoners out to the courtyard for what they called a 'celebration.' We all knew what they meant by 'celebration.' All the prisoners were chained to a pipe that ran the length of the courtyard wall. One prisoner, Amer al-Tikriti, was called out. They said if he didn't tell them everything they wanted to know, they would show him torture like he had never seen. He merely told them he would show them patience like they had never seen."

"This is when they brought out his wife, who was five months pregnant. One of the guards said that if he refused to talk he would get 12 guards to rape his wife until she lost the baby. Amer said nothing. So they did. We were forced to watch. Whenever one of us cast down his eyes, they would beat us."

"Amer's wife didn't lose the baby. So the guard took a knife, cut her belly open and took the baby out with his hands. The woman and child died minutes later. Then the guard used the same knife to cut Amer's throat." There is a moment of silence. Then Idrissi says: "What we have seen about the recent abuse at Abu Ghraib is a joke to us."

Read the rest!


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