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News :: Human Rights
Anti-Torture Demonstration at Harvard Marks Abu Ghraib Scandal
29 Apr 2006
Modified: 01:28:42 AM
Demonstrators hold symbolic protest on the two year anniversary Iraq prisoner abuse.

Students, faculty, and members of the Harvard community joined a silent demonstration Friday calling for accountability on the two-year anniversary of the release of the Abu Ghraib prison photos.
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Roughly 30 to 40 demonstrators took turns rotating roles as hooded prisoners. Organizers of the vigil placed boxes of black hoods and robes outside of a trafficked area north of Harvard Yard for passerbys to don and join the circle of hand-clasped prisoners outside of Harvard University's Science Center.

Public outcry followed the release of the prisoner abuse photographs, which included scenes of prisoners atop boxes with electric wires connected to their bodies, forcible sexual positions of naked prisoners, strapping dog leashes around prisoners' necks, and threatening prisoners with fierce MP K-9 dog attacks. Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker, one of the first journalists to uncover the story, reported that the dogs were set loose on one prisoner in an orange jumpsuit after the photograph was taken.

CIA interrogators, military personnel and civilian contractors were identified in the photographs, subjecting prisoners to harsh and humiliating treatment while parading and arranging them for photographs and video footage.

"Despite strong evidence linking systematic torture to the highest levels of the Bush administration, including Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld," said co-organizer and Harvard Law School student Deborah Popowski, "no high-level civilian or military commanders have been prosecuted for torture, war crimes or crimes against humanity."

Two years later, there have been no truly independent inquiries into command responsibility for Abu Ghraib and other sites of major prisoner abuse committed by U.S. officials. What inquiries have occurred have been criticized by groups such as Human Rights First.

"We must demand accountability at the very top of the chain of command," said Popowski. "We must not allow these crimes to continue in our name."
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