Mrch 8, 2006
After the US's
deliberate and unprovoked war on Iraq, "reconstruction" becomes one of the US's
moral clichés to justify crimes against the Iraqi people and ongoing
Occupation. In reality, the "reconstruction" of Iraq is the continuation of the
destruction of Iraq and humiliation of Iraqi society.
prisons have been built where the practice of humiliation, sadistic torture,
sexual abuse and rape of Iraqi men, women and children are used on daily basis
to force the entire Iraqi population into submission.
billion initially appropriated by the US administration to "reconstruct" Iraq
were a gift to US corporations and the Bush cronies. The only visible
construction in Iraq today is the rise in the construction of prisons.
According to Reuters; "The U.S. State Department is winding down
its $20 billion reconstruction program in Iraq and the only new rebuilding
money in its latest budget request is for prisons . . . State Department Iraq coordinator James Jeffrey told
reporters he was asking Congress for $100 million for prisons but no other big
building projects were in the pipeline."
We constantly hear about Abu Ghraib (US-run) and Camp Buucca
(British-run), but there are countless numbers of prisons. Many of these new
prisons have been established at military bases and airports, such as the US
Military compound at Al-Dhiloeia, north of Baghdad, Camp Cropper Centre at
Baghdad International Airport, the Hilla military compound, a joint US-Polish
base, old Iraqi military barracks, and public buildings across Iraq. Many of
Iraq’s schools and colleges have been converted into detention centres and
barracks for the occupying forces.
In August 2004, a Michigan a legal team headed by Mohammed Alomari, Media Director of Focus
on American & Arab Interests & Relations (FAAIR) -- an American
non-profit, non-governmental organization -- met with former Iraqi prisoners in
Baghdad and found that Iraqi prisoners were mistreated, abused, tortured and
raped on daily basis at some 38 U.S. military-run detention centers in Iraq. The
"list includes everything from resort islands to aircraft hangars to college
student housing facilities converted to U.S. military bases with military
detention centers. Most of the airports have detention centers, including
Baghdad International Airport, Mosul Airport, Baquba Airport, etc."
Today, Iraq is a cluster of countless prisons and detention
centres. Many Iraqi towns and villages have been walled in with sand and
razor-wire barriers, and turn into large prisons.
addition, different militias and death squads created, trained and armed by the
US forces and their allies have their own torture chambers in prisons hidden
inside bunkers in the Interior and Defence ministries, police stations and
clandestine locations across Iraq. This allows the US, Britain and now Amnesty
International (AI) to shift the blame of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners
by US and British soldiers solely on the thugs of the Interior and Defence
ministries, as if they are really independent ministries in a sovereign (not
brutally occupied) country. Furthermore, many Iraqi prisoners are also held in
secret facilities or "black sites" as part of a large covert prison system set
up by the CIA in 2001 outside legal and international laws, and are known to
only a handful of US officials and President Bush.
Once in prisons,
the prisoners are routinely abused, tortured, sexually abused and, in many
cases, murdered in gross violations of the Geneva Conventions and international
law. The Bush administration and the military are trying to find ways to avoid
the jurisdiction of the Geneva Conventions in order to normalise the use of
torture on Iraqi prisoners and other foreign nationals held in US-run prisons
in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and other "black sites" around the
official number of Iraqi men, women and children in US-run prisons in Iraq is
said to be around 16,000, reported ABC
News in June 2005.
The number has since rocketed, and Iraqi sources put the number as high as
"hundreds of thousands" prisoners languishing in prisons across Iraq. FAAIR estimated the number of Iraqis who have been
detained by US and British forces (from March 2003 to October 2004) to be over
156,000. The majority of these prisoners are innocent civilians rounded up from
their homes and businesses during random raids by US forces and their
collaborators. There is no justice or legal process and there is no law to
certify and register prisoners. Families and relatives of prisoners are left in
the dark about their loved one. Hundreds of Iraqis have simply disappeared
after they were taken prisoners.
of the UN Human Rights in Iraq, a pro-Occupation propaganda mouthpiece, said
recently that; between "80 percent to 90 percent were innocent people" rounded
up "quite blindly," and taken to prisons. They are abused, tortured and
often murdered by occupying forces and their collaborators. Furthermore, in an
op-ed in the New
York Times on 28
February, Anthony Lagouranis, a former US army interrogator (aka torturer),
admitted, "From January 2004 to January 2005, I served in various places in
Iraq (including Abu Ghraib) as an Army interrogator. Following orders that I
believed were legal, I used military working dogs during interrogations. I
terrified my interrogation subjects, but I never got intelligence (mostly
because 90 percent of them were probably innocent, but that's another
story)." He added, "Perhaps, I have thought for a long time, I also
deserve to be prosecuted."
Janis Karpinski, the former brigadier general in charge of
the 800th Military Police Brigade in Iraq, where she supervised detention
operations at Abu Ghraib and prisons elsewhere told FRONTLINE,
"About 90 percent of them [prisoners] were innocent of any terrorism or related
Karpinski blamed the practices of abuse and torture of Iraqi
prisoners on the top Pentagon officials and the US administration. "The
secretary of defence would not have authorized [it] without the approval of the
vice president," she said. "They could make it appear any way they want. I
will not be silenced, and I will continue to tell the truth. And I will
continue to ask how they can continue to blame seven rogue soldiers on the
night shift, when there is the preponderance of hard information from a variety
of sources [that] says otherwise," added Karpinski. She also rightly,
pointed the finger at the role of the Israeli Mossad in the abuses, torture and
murder of Iraqi prisoners.
Indeed, some of those Americans involved in torture of
Iraqis at Abu Ghraib have attended training courses in Israel, where torture,
abuse and murder of Palestinians have been part of Israel’s brutal policy since
its creation on Palestinian land. "In January and February of 2003, Israeli and
American troops trained together in southern Israel's Negev desert . . . Israel
has also hosted senior law enforcement officials from the United States for a
seminar on counter-terrorism," reported the Associated Press.
Furthermore, the top echelon at the Pentagon -- Paul
Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith and Abram Shulsky --
who made the policies are the same hardcore Zionists who fed George W. Bush and
Donald Rumsfeld fabricated lies -- WMD and "terrorism" -- to justify an illegal
war of aggression on Iraq in defiance of the UN Charter. The US invaded and
occupies Iraq to enhance US imperialist domination and to expand Israel’s
Zionism, not for "democracy" and for the sake of the Iraqi people.
As the Iraqi people continue to endure the brutality of the
Occupation, the UN, the Red Cross, countless Western NGOs and human rights
organisations have been unwilling to intervene in the ongoing gross human
rights violations, including daily arbitrary arrests, indefinite detentions,
abuse and torture of innocent Iraqi civilians by the occupying forces and their
collaborators. The ruling elites and their propaganda rants in the West who are
"protesting" the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners are protesting out of
concern for the safety of US and British soldiers, and "images" of Western
imperialism. Their concerns have nothing to do with human rights of Iraqis and
other foreign national prisoners languishing in US-run prisons.
the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Western NGOs and human rights groups were
fanning out across Iraq, sniffing for clues to demonise the regime of Saddam
Hussein. However, since Iraq was illegally invaded, destroyed and forced under
US-British Occupation, these "defenders" of human rights remain silent despite
the greater level of human rights violations and crimes committed by the
occupying forces. For example, in one of its reports, AI, said; "Conditions of
detention at the Camp Cropper Centre and at Abu Ghraib prison may amount to
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." Notice the word "may" and the
deliberate vagueness of the language. In fact if one reads AI’s new report,
one is convinced that the US
and British occupying forces (not "US-led Multinational Force" as AI called the
Occupation) are not guilty of any wrongdoing. AI's figure of 14,000 Iraqi
prisoners is the lowest by any estimate. Given AI's interest
in the treatment of prisoners and prison conditions, one would expect AI to be
the guardian of US-run prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The opposite
is true. Powers are protected, and only criticised for their own good.
committed these heinous crimes against the Iraqi people, including the murder
of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, mostly women and
children, remain at large. They are protected by a variety of new draconian
laws that criminalise dissent, and strip ordinary citizens of their democratic
rights and civil liberties. Their roles in the war and the crimes of torture
are deliberately omitted by the mass media. Instead, their crimes are blamed on
a "few bad apples" in the military, as if the "few bad apples" are not the
product of imperialist racist policies made at the top echelon of the Pentagon
and the Bush administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney.
also true for the British government and its role in the crimes committed by
British soldiers against Iraqi civilians. The bellicose British Defence
Secretary John Reid was very clear about his government role in torture. Reid
said recently that; we need to "re-assure" British soldiers against the
"perception that human rights lawyers and international bodies such as the
International Criminal Court [in The Hague] are waiting in the wings to step in
and act against them." He added; "The reality is that they operate under
British law." Indeed, none of the British soldiers involved in the abuse,
torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners have been convicted for crimes.
From the outset, the US war on Iraq was an illegal and
unprovoked act of aggression. Instead of building Iraq, the US has converted
Iraq into a large cluster of torture prisons, and has deprived the Iraqi people
of their liberty and their human rights in gross violations of international
law and human decency. An occupying power is obliged -- under the Geneva
Conventions -- to protect the civilian population and provide them with
What this adds to is the use of murder, sadistic torture,
humiliation, sexual abuse and rape as a campaign strategy to force the entire
Iraqi population into submission and obedience. Since March 2003, the occupying
forces and their collaborators are killing, arresting, imprisoning and
torturing Iraqi civilians, and destroying Iraqi properties with impunity. The
deliberate and uncontrolled daily bloodshed and terror of all kinds generate
chaos, dehumanise the Iraqi people and label them as violent savages, and in
the process focus people’s attention away from the Occupation. This way, the
enemy is always reduced to a stereotype that is easier to demonise and kill.
Anyone buying into such imperialist distortion is denying the Iraqi people
their rights to resistance and national liberation.
How could US citizens be fooled and continue to support a
criminal war against defenceless people? Instead, they should demand that those
who instigated the war be held accountable for their crimes.
Almost all Iraqis have rejected the presence of foreign
troops and have long called for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. Only an
immediate and a full withdrawal of US forces from Iraq will provide the chance
for a peaceful solution and a return to normality.
Ghali Hassan lives in Perth Western Australia.
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