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News :: Human Rights : International
The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
05 Oct 2005
Amman, Jordan -- Haj Ali is an Iraqi who was released from Abu Ghraib after five months when it was decided that he was “wrongfully arrested.” In the States many people seem to think that after the Abu Ghraib investigations, everything changed in Iraq, and this ended the mistreatment of prisoners that has often involved abuse at best and torture at worst. In fact these practices still go on, particularly in so-called “private prisons” and “party prisons.” I spoke with Haj Ali last night and he explained some of this to me.

Haj Ali, who was prisoner number 151716, was taken to Abu Ghraib on the fifteenth of October 2003. He was kept there for five months until he was put on a truck, taken to the desert and dropped off on the highway. The soldiers told him he was free because he had been “wrongfully arrested.”
torture1.jpg
He stood up to leave the truck and he says he “was kicked in the ass by one of the soldiers and because he is fat he fell off the truck and hit the ground very hard.” When he removed the hood he found himself on the highway with many other released prisoners. They were abandoned by the military and left to make their own way back to their homes.

Haj Ali has since spoken at many conferences about Human Rights and detentions, mainly in the Middle East, because he has much difficulty obtaining a visa to leave the country. Just this week he was to go to Italy to speak at a conference there, but the Italian Embassy has stonewalled his attempts to obtain a visa. They claim that he is a terrorist. It is unclear if this is because he was in Abu Ghraib, or because he is an Iraqi, or perhaps because he is an outspoken Iraqi. Haj Ali claims he is the Iraqi pictured in the now infamous photo of a detainee in a black hood with electrodes attached to his hands. I have not yet been able to confirm this, however while I have been here an Australian journalist, Olivia Rousset from SBS Dateline in Australia has been following Haj Ali. SBS apparently feels Haj Ali’s story is credible enough to finance a short documentary piece on him and the Abu Ghraib story. Haj Ali has also helped found an organization, ostensibly with all of the surviving Iraqis from the infamous Abu Ghraib photos. His organization, Association of Victims of American Occupation Prisons, is hoping to create a change for Iraq, in the way the prisons are run, in the manner that Iraqis are treated, and, he hopes, a change for Iraq overall.

Haj Ali assured me that his organization is important because these actions continue, many of them now caused by Iraqi guards, who were trained by the United States and who attempt to imitate the Americans’ actions. He wanted to emphasize that the best thing that can happen is for the United States to leave Iraq, for many reasons, not the least of which being the soldiers’ abuse of Iraqis and their impact on average Iraqis because they have encouraged the practice of abuse and torture by their actions.

While he was in Abu Ghraib, he suffered many things, not only just the pictures with the electrodes and the hood. They gave him many nicknames and when they did this, they would strip him naked and then, with a thick marker, they wrote on him. For awhile they called him “Colin Powell,” after the previous Secretary of State, and the soldiers wrote this name on his forehead, across his chest and back, all over his body. They gave him other nicknames as well, such as Gilligan and Big Chicken. They also forced him to dress in a bikini type bathing suit or underwear, and they threatened to show them to all his family, his children, his wife, his cousins and other family. For those who are not aware about Muslim custom, it is important to make clear why this is so offensive, even more so than simple humiliation.

In Islam, it is forbidden to publicly display your body, from your midriff near the belly button to your knees. So for Haj Ali, who is a very religious man, this is an incredible insult and defamation, it is a violation of his religion for him to do this. One way to understand how dedicated and religious Haj Ali is will be to understand the reason he is referred to by the term “Haj.” This is because he has made the Haj, the religious pilgrimage to Mecca. So now, as a term of respect, though his given name is Ali Shalal Abbas, most people simply call him Haj Ali.

Today these prisons and humiliations still continue in Iraq, whether we discuss the public use of confessions and humiliations of alleged insurgents on television, or less public actions, it is continuing. There are prisons run by militias and parties all over Iraq. This is because the only groups that have been able to keep order continuously in Iraq are the militias, which are dedicated to the goals of their specific parties, which are often no more than the political arms of tribal factions in Iraq. Groups such as the Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army are only some of the militias that are better known in the media.

To prove that these torturous practices and abuses are still continuing, Haj Ali provided me with two dozen photos of injured or deceased Iraqis, with many clear signs of abuse. These photos are all of detainees from Iraq, and clearly demonstrate abuse. I can only post the photos here for your perusal to make your own decision about their truth. A photographer who works for the Association produced these. In my own investigations, they appear to me to be valid, but in today’s world of Adobe Photoshop and digital imaging, I admit it can be difficult. Many of these photos are quite gruesome, so please be advised. You can find them here (link to be posted as soon as photos are available).

Being aware that these practices are still occurring is very important, because the media in the United States particularly has appeared to describe Abu Ghraib as an isolated phenomenon. But because these abuses are still happening, and are quite widespread, it is important to be aware of this. The abuses are still occurring, often carried out by members of the Wolf Brigade, the Badr Brigade, and others. The use of private detention facilities has shown up recently in Basra as well. In Basra, militia members posing as police detained two British soldiers, and the conflict between competing militias and parties has risen again.

Beyond this, he informed me that “many of the people who are now in the interim government are known criminals, and just because they were imprisoned by Saddam, that does not mean they are not criminals.” For example, it is important to remember that Ahmad Chalabi was a criminal, who left Iraq for London to evade prison. “The United States, they brought many criminals to Iraq to run the government, and these people, they don’t really care about Iraq, each one wants the best for his own party, his own group, not for Iraq.” These parties are the same as the militias and parties discussed above. Haj Ali also told me that Iran is very much involved in influencing the Shi’a parties in the Iraqi government, using money and influence to push an Iranian agenda in Iraq.

Haj Ali believes that the way the United States can be made to leave Iraq is if the American people make it so, much like in Vietnam, if the people of the United States say no, he believes the government will have to leave. This is because “the United States, the people, are always there, governments change, but the people are still there, so perhaps the United States will not leave today, but the government will change, George Bush will leave office eventually, and if the American people want it, then the United States will leave Iraq. He told me that he knows “the American people they can be very generous, that they have helped many countries in the past but right now, in Iraq, this is not the situation, and they must leave because the Americans are not helping.
See also:
http://www.aliveinbaghdad.org

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Bush and Abu Ghraib
05 Oct 2005
Click on image for a larger version

Abu_Ghraib.png
"The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example." - G.W. Bush
See also:
http://www.indymedia.be/news/2005/02/92994_comment.php
Binding the Hands of Torturers - New York Times
08 Oct 2005
When the Senate voted this week to bring America's chain of military prison camps under the rule of law, President Bush threatened a veto. The White House explained his objections by saying the measure would bind the government's hands. Yes, exactly. The rules would finally bind military prisons to democratic values and the standards of behavior recognized by every other civilized nation. They would bind the government to a code of conduct that will help protect those in the nation's uniform.

The measure would ban "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of prisoners held by the military - which, by the way, is already against American law and a longstanding treaty. Mr. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales are about the only ones left who want to defend the justness and practical value of the abhorrent practices introduced at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, and then exported to Abu Ghraib. Ninety senators voted for the new law, including 46 Republicans - even Bill Frist, the majority leader, who yanked the measure from the floor last summer.

More than two dozen retired senior military officers endorsed it, including two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashvili and Colin Powell. Generals know that turning American servicemen and servicewomen into torturers endangers Americans captured on the battlefield. Senator John McCain, the primary sponsor of the legislation, was among the Americans tortured by North Vietnamese jailers. He said that "Every one of us - every single one of us - knew and took great strength from the belief that we were different from our enemies."

The arguments made by the handful of senators still loyal to Mr. Bush on this issue were sadly comical. Senator Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska, argued that requiring American troops to follow their own field manual was not practical in the so-called war on terror. This is the central myth behind the administration's policies on prisoners, that the 9/11 attacks required a review of the rules and justified changing them to allow the torture of suspected terrorists. No serious person with experience in this field believes that, only because torture yields worthless information and false confessions.

Not only is the Bush administration trying to block the Senate's efforts to finally fix this enormous problem, but it continues to block any serious investigation of the abuse, torture and murder of prisoners.

The senators who voted for the law on the humane treatment of prisoners should also lend their backing to another measure that would create a truly bipartisan and independent commission, armed with subpoena power, to investigate the prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib and other military detention camps - like the one that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Republican majority in the House should also pass the new law on interrogations - then override Mr. Bush if he has the bad judgment to veto it.

New York Times, October 8, 2005
Abu Grahb a Conversation topic and focal point.
09 Oct 2005
What would we have to talk about if it were not for abu grahb?

Iraq would be a subject of civil infighting between competeing Islamic sects Shiites vs. Sunni's vs. Kurds etc., who carbombed who's Mosque or market today.

I certainly doubt we would discuss what took place in Abu Grahb when Saddam ran it. I dont think we would discuss the children's prisons or mass graves, and certainly not the opening of schools or building of new hospitals. As for expanding womyn's rights in Iraq, lets just pretend it isnt happening.

So Abu Grahb is a lucky thing for those of us who would not want to look at the rest of Iraq.

Oh yes we can always discuss the latest American body count, dead and wounded, and the Iraqi civilian deaths.
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
12 Oct 2005
Let's just bring back Saddam. That would make everybody happy.
Torture IS immoral, perverted and illegal.
12 Oct 2005
Anyone who agrees with this criminal administration is either a walking dummy or perverted themselves.
Everyone in this administration should be jailed for war crimes and treason.
How many more lives for oil?
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
12 Oct 2005
good work brian. stay safe, stay alive, come home and have some beers here man.
peace.
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
12 Oct 2005
"<i>That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government.</i>" Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776<br>
<br>
<ul>
<li><b>Torture of Iraqis was for ‘stress relief’, say US soldiers</b> (Neil MacKay)<br>
For the first time, American soldiers who personally tortured Iraqi prisoners have come forward to give testimony to human rights organisations about crimes they comm itted. (<a href="http://www.sundayherald.com/52035";>more...</a>)</li>
<li><b>Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation</b> (Dahr Jamail)<br>
The report documents the desperate supply shortages facing hospitals, the disastrous effect that the lack of basic services like water and electricity have on hospitals and the disruption of medical services at Iraqi hospitals by US military forces. In almost all hospitals surveyed the situation is critical concerning the availability and the fuctioning of X-ray, ventilation and ambulances, while pharmaceuticals and lab supplies are delivered but sporadically. Three out of the eleven hospitals surveyed are frequently raided by the US military, five others sporadically. (<a href="http://www.brusselstribunal.org/DahrReport.htm";>more...</a>)</li>
<li><b>Iraqis Endure Worse Conditions Than Under Saddam, UN Survey Finds</b> (The Newstandard)<br>
A major study by the UN and Iraqi officials found that life in Iraq has decayed significantly since foreign forces invaded, following a general trend seen in most sectors since the imposition of a global embargo in 1990. (<a href="http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/1816";>more...</a>)</li>
<li><b>US caused more deaths in Iraq than Saddam</b> (AFP)<br>
"With two wars and 13 years of criminal sanctions, the United States have been responsible for more deaths in Iraq than Saddam Hussein" (<a href="http://www.bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=6624";>more...</a>)</li>
<li><b>Declaration of the Jury of Conscience</b> (WTI)<br>
"The attack on Iraq is an attack on justice, on liberty, on our safety, on our future, on us all. We, people of conscience, decided to stand up. We formed the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) to demand justice and a peaceful future." (<a href="http://bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=7323";>more...</a>)</li>
<li>...</li>
</ul>
<br>
Saddam Hussein has committed crimes, he has been arrested.<br>
Now if we are any serious when we talk about JUSTICE, we should arrest several people from the Bush administration as well, starting with Bush himself. (Remember nobody died when Clinton lied.)<br>
<br>
Switch off TV for a moment, and start searching...<br>
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
14 Oct 2005
[Sorry for the mess above. The comment was intended to be html formatted, but somehow it has been published as text.
Until this is fixed (Editor ?), here is the plain text version with clickable links: ]

"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government." - Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776


- Torture of Iraqis was for ‘stress relief’, say US soldiers (Neil MacKay)
For the first time, American soldiers who personally tortured Iraqi prisoners have come forward to give testimony to human rights organisations about crimes they committed. ( http://www.sundayherald.com/52035 )

Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation (Dahr Jamail)
The report documents the desperate supply shortages facing hospitals, the disastrous effect that the lack of basic services like water and electricity have on hospitals and the disruption of medical services at Iraqi hospitals by US military forces. In almost all hospitals surveyed the situation is critical concerning the availability and the fuctioning of X-ray, ventilation and ambulances, while pharmaceuticals and lab supplies are delivered but sporadically. Three out of the eleven hospitals surveyed are frequently raided by the US military, five others sporadically. ( http://www.brusselstribunal.org/DahrReport.htm )

Iraqis Endure Worse Conditions Than Under Saddam, UN Survey Finds (The Newstandard)
A major study by the UN and Iraqi officials found that life in Iraq has decayed significantly since foreign forces invaded, following a general trend seen in most sectors since the imposition of a global embargo in 1990. ( http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/1816 )

US caused more deaths in Iraq than Saddam (AFP)
"With two wars and 13 years of criminal sanctions, the United States have been responsible for more deaths in Iraq than Saddam Hussein" ( http://www.bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=6624 )

Declaration of the Jury of Conscience (WTI)
"The attack on Iraq is an attack on justice, on liberty, on our safety, on our future, on us all. We, people of conscience, decided to stand up. We formed the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) to demand justice and a peaceful future." ( http://bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=7323 )

...


Saddam Hussein has committed crimes, he has been arrested.
Now if we are any serious when we talk about JUSTICE, we should arrest several people from the Bush administration as well, starting with Bush himself. (Remember nobody died when Clinton lied.)

Switch off TV for a moment, and start searching...
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
19 Oct 2005
Can you please do a similar article concerning the machine gunning of the people in main Mosque in Basra in 1992?
Or can you do one about the gassing of the Kurds in 1989?
Or maybe you can do one about the way that the Soviet Army stopped outside of Warsaw in 1944 and allowed the Nazi's to masacre the Free Poles?

Or are you only interested in talking about things that make the United States look bad?

What happened at Abu Ghraib is a horror. What sane person would argue otherwise?
And so what is the point of publishing the picture that you published other than to try and spread discontent?

I see what my country does wrong and I am appalled. But I don't linger over the horrer and use photos for propaganda.

And so you think that the US should leave Iraq? What exactly does that mean? No Americans allowed? No Embassy? How about a better plan: The Iraqi's create a viable government that isn't a facist dictatorship.

I don't like what is happening over in Iraq. But I have never heard anyone on the Left give any kind of viable plan for leaving. It is always that they want the US to be a failure.
And that idea is, itself, failure. The hatred of America is so obvious.
The Sunni's are getting payback for being facists. And even though I don't believe that payback is a good thing, that is the effect of what they allowed, their genocide against the Shiites and the Kurds. And their hatred goes back 14 centuries. America can leave and Iraq will still be a mess.

So, how can America leave? We made a mistake, what do you suggest, we just cut and run and let the Wahabbi Islamofascists have free reign? Wouldn't that be irresponsible?

We were lied to, we were fooled by an Exective Branch that might be later declared criminals. No matter what we find, no matter what laws the administration may have violated, cutting and running now is just not an option.
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
25 Oct 2005
Obviously what happened at Abu Ghraib was wrong. Those few misguided and untrained fools have tarnished the Army's wonderful reputation but things will be fixed. The individuals have been stripped of their uniforms and status of American soldiers and put in prison were they belong. Granted, life is 1000 times better without Saddam but there is a few dingbats in every group.
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
26 Oct 2005
Dora,Sid,Veteran,and Dude in hiding are American republicrat fascists.They are so brainwashed and know next to nothing about Iraq.I am really amused by their uneducated remarks.They love commenting on indymedia.I guess they're tired of the chickenhawk republican pro-war websites so they waste their time attacking leftists.They must have very boring lives.
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
26 Oct 2005
On the contrary, I lead an exciting and rewarding life. I have traveled the globe and witnessed first hand most of the things you guys ignorantly and wrongly whine about. You would be hard pressed to walk ten steps in my shoes. Keep the comedy coming!
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
07 Nov 2005
Silly child, the people of Iraq did not vote for Saddam and the ones that did were forced to. You really should read the information that comes from Iraq not just the "information" posted here. Remember, there is always two sides to every story. Have an open mind and be smart enough to know that.
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
07 Nov 2005
How do you know that they didn't vote for him? Were you there? Who are we to overturn en election? The Iraqi people LOVE Saddam.
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
07 Nov 2005
And so does Mindy! :)
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
08 Nov 2005
It's time to get out of Iraq. Indeed the Iraqi people were better off and happier under Saddam. He brought stability and control to that diverse nation. He kept the Kurds and Shiites in check. He also kept population numbers in control. The present situation demonstrates that the Iraqi people have not yet reached a cultural maturity to handle democracy and must be led by a benevolent dictator like Saddam. Another beneficial thing that Saddam brought was the elimination of dissidents within the country. A country with a large dissident population cannot survive. Through selected imprisonment and selective execution, Saddam not only physically eliminated opposition, but sent a clear message that opposition would not be tolerated. The Iraqi people liked this and actually thrived under it. They always knew what the rules were and how to play by them. While it is unfortunate for the families of those imprisoned or executed, it is also true that these families are in part to blame. They owed it to their dissident family members to reign them in. They also owed it to their country. What we have now is the very real danger that the Kurds will set up their own democracy in the north. The Kurds, due to their tribal/cultural background are the only group in Iraq capable of democracy. If they are allowed to establish democracy, then Iraq ia doomed. Only Saddam can stop this.
Re: The Continuing Legacy of Abu Ghraib
18 Apr 2006
NO Comments for this.
OK