We call on those states responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq to terminate their illegal and immoral war, and express our solidarity with the Iraqi people in their struggle for peace, justice and self-determination.

In particular, we demand:

  1. An immediate end to the US and UK-led occupation of Iraq;
  2. Urgent action to fully address the current humanitarian crises facing Iraq’s people, including help for the more than three million refugees and displaced persons;
  3. An end to all foreign interference in Iraq's affairs, including its oil industry, so that Iraqis can exercise their right to self-determination;
  4. Compensation and reparations from those countries responsible for war and sanctions on Iraq;
  5. Prosecution of all those responsible for war crimes, human rights abuses, and the theft of Iraq's resources.

We demand justice for Iraq.

This statement was adopted by the Justice for Iraq conference in London on 19th July 2008. We plan to publish this more widely in future. If you would like to add your name to the list of supporters please contact us.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Sexual torture in Iraq

An interesting piece by David Rosen at Counterpunch on a little-noticed report:

Will We Ever Know the Complete Truth?
Sexual Torture, Yet Again
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) recently released a little-covered report, “Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel.” The media’s failure to report on this important study is unfortunate. [PHR, “Broken Laws, Broken Lives,” June 2009]Like the proverbial faucet that drips drip by slow drip and finally gives way to a gushing flood, reports about Bush-era torture perpetrated upon alleged enemy combatants continue to drip out.

The PHR report is the most disturbing of the handful of reports and scores of news accounts that deal with the torture of alleged enemy combatants. Using case-study profiles, the PHR report details the treatment of eleven such combatants in Iraq and at Guantánamo. The report is all the more revealing because it pays careful attention to the medical, both physical and psychological, effects of the torture inflicted and medical treatment provided these detainees. It recounts the gruesome experience suffered by eleven apparently innocent men swept up in U.S. military round-ups and, after suffering painful torture and months of imprisonment, were released uncharged, but scared for life.

Most striking based on information presented in the PHR report, the men profiled are innocent, victims of arbitrary arrest, imprisonment and torture. None is accused of a crime; none has a lawyer; none face a trial; all were released. One is a farmer, another a businessmen; still others are retired military personnel and a manager. One is picked up in front of a mosque; others are seized during late-night raids of their homes by U.S. soldiers. Some go passively; others are seized and beaten protesting the beating of their wives and children. All are tortured and most receive some form of sexual torture, including forced sodomy.

The eleven men profiled in the PHR report are not notorious threats to national security like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah. They were waterboarded (or, as the International Red Cross calls it, “suffocation by water”) 183 times and 83 times, respectively. Rather, the men in the RHR report are what is euphemistically called “the fog of war.” Their innocence makes the villainy perpetrated against them by U.S. personnel all the more shameful.

A truism of modern life is that history, like war, is written by the victor. Bush’s war on terror will be recalled, like Johnson’s Vietnam war, as a military failure based on a president-initiated and media-facilitated lie. Like the false Bay of Tonkin attacks that provided the rationale for the Vietnam War, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to legitimize the invasion and occupation of a sovereign country. Today, Vietnam is in the Chinese orbit; tomorrow, Iraq will fall under the sway of Iran. American military interventions will turn out to be historical failures.

Most disturbing, Bush’s war on terror was marked by the sadism of power. The PHR report documents how war frees culturally sanctioned (masculine) prohibitions against the inflicting of sexual aggression on innocent people, prisoners. The rape and sexual torture inflicted as part of the war on terror was a military campaign expressing political power. Those in power, whether Bush and Rumsfeld or, a generation earlier, Johnson and McNamara, sanctioned torture and sexual degradation as legitimate tactics of a military campaign. While the Marquis de Sade could only dream of mass sexual sadism, America’s political elite, include its presidents, defense secretaries, military officer core and ground-level operatives, lived out a sadistic nightmare as the spoils of military power.

In a preface to the PHR report, Major General Antonio Taguba, author of a separate study for the U.S. military on Abu Ghraib, insists that the eleven men profiled in the study “deserve justice as required under the tenants of international law and the United States Constitution. And so do the American people.” Only a full-scale Congressional investigation, similar to the 1975-1976 Church committee hearing on the CIA, will provide a hopefully full account of the horrors committed by the U.S. military, intelligence agencies and private contractors in the “war on terror.”
* * *
The PHR report profiles eleven victims of U.S. torture. Their individual experiences are worth recounting for they tell much about the U.S. torture system. The report documents the torture techniques, those involving “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” used on the eleven prisoners. These practices include: waterboarding, beating, stabbing, kicking, electric shock, stress positions, sleep deprivation, forced shaving, arm suspensions, cold-water immersion, food, water and sleep deprivation, noise bombardment, pepper spraying, extended periods of isolation, snarling dogs, exposure to the cold, death threats and a host of sexual abuses, like naked pyramids, exposed genitals, simulated homoerotic encounters and forced sodomization.

None of the eleven combatants profiled in the PHR report was indicted or convicted of a crime. After release, all suffered physical problems and varying degrees of PTSD, their lives ruined.The report adheres to a policy of anonymous reporting, so the identities of the eleven prisoners remain private. The report also does not question the narrative stories presented by the detainees. Summary profiles, with special attention to the sexual abuse suffered, of the eleven detainees follow.The first group consists of Iraqis:

· Kamal – a former Iraqi military officer in his late-40s and a father of seven, he is arrested in his Baghdad home in the middle of the night and kept at Abu Ghraib and other prisons for 21 months; he suffers repeated acts of sexual humiliation, including being stripped naked, paraded before female interrogators and having his penis pulled.

· Hefez – a retired Iraqi manager in his 50s with two years of college, a father of four and grandfather of two, he is arrested in his Baghdad home in the middle of the night and kept at Abu Ghraib and Baghdad Airport for seven months; while he reports only having his penis and tentacles painfully pulled, he suffers a post-imprisonment lack of sexual desire.

· Laith – a former Iraqi soldier in his mid-40s had previous spent 18 months in prison under Saddam Hussein, he is arrested in his Baghdad home in the middle of the night, his pregnant wife and children beaten by U.S. personnel and she miscarries, he was kept at Abu Ghraib and other prisons for eight months; he reports being sodomized, including by an electrical device, and was forced to wear soiled underwear and drink urine; he suffers sexual dysfunction and anal scars.

· Yasser – a former teacher and educated farmer in his mid-40s, he is picked up for no apparent reason in front of Baghdad mosque; he is kept at Abu Ghraib and other prisons for seven months; he reports being sodomized on fifteen separate occasions and suffers rectal bleeding; once freed, he lives with deep depression.

· Morad – a retired Iraqi civil servant and small businessman in his late-50s who supports a wife and six children, he is arrested in his Baghdad home in the middle of the night and kept at Abu Ghraib and other prisons for eight months; he appears to have not been subject to extreme interrogation or sexual torture.

· Rahman – a small businessman in his early-40s, he is arrested in his Baghdad shop and held at Abu Ghraib for nine months; he is forced to stand naked and hooded for extended periods; once freed, he suffers sexual dysfunction.

· Amir – his image being pulled around with a leather dog’s leash is immortalized in photos taken at Abu Ghraib; he is a salesman in his late-20s and the sole support of his mother, his brother’s wife and three children, he is arrested in the early morning hours while sleeping in his Baghdad hotel room; he is held at Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca for 18 months and is sodomized with a broomstick and suffers rectal bleeding, is urinated on and kept naked for extended periods; freed, he lives with the humiliation of the Abu Ghriab photos.

More at http://www.counterpunch.org/rosen08142009.html

Sunday 9 August 2009

More about Blackwater

The last week has seen several stories about Blackwater's activites in Iraq, which are increasingly under the spotlight following sworn testimony from two ex-employees.
The Times has this:

Iraqis speak of random killings committed by private Blackwater guards

The Times reports (August 7th): Guards employed by Blackwater, the US security company, shot Iraqis and killed victims in allegedly unprovoked and random attacks, it was claimed.
A Virginia court also received sworn statements from former Blackwater employees yesterday alleging that Erik Prince, the company’s founder, “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe”.
They also accused the company of following a policy of deliberate killings and arms dealing and of employing people unfit or improperly trained to handle lethal weaponry.
More at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6742135.ece

The Nation highlights the continued use of Blackwater, now Xe, under the Obama Administration:

US Still Paying Blackwater Millions

The Nation reports (August 7th): Just days before two former Blackwater employees alleged in sworn statements filed in federal court that the company's owner, Erik Prince, "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," the Obama administration extended a contract with Blackwater for more than $20 million for "security services" in Iraq, according to federal contract data obtained by The Nation. The State Department contract is scheduled to run through September 3. In May, the State Department announced it was not renewing Blackwater's Iraq contract, and the Iraqi government has refused to issue the company an operating license.
According to federal contracting records reviewed by The Nation, since President Barack Obama took office in January the State Department has contracted with Blackwater for more than $174 million in "security services" alone in Iraq and Afghanistan and tens of millions more in "aviation services."
More at; http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090817/scahill2

And most shocking are these allegations in Raw Story:

Ex-employees claim Blackwater pimped out young Iraqi girls

Raw story reports (August 7th): Since the revelation earlier this week of allegations by two former employees of security firm Blackwater that its owner was complicit in murder in order to cover up the deliberate killing of Iraqi civilians, explosive charges have continued to emerge.
Perhaps the most shocking of those charges — quoted by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Thursday from the employees’ sworn declarations — is that Blackwater was guilty of using child prostitutes at its compound in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and that owner Erik Prince knew of this activity and did nothing to stop it.
The declarations describe Blackwater as “having young girls provide oral sex to Enterprise members in the ‘Blackwater Man Camp’ in exchange for one American dollar.” They add even though Prince frequently visited this camp, he “failed to stop the ongoing use of prostitutes, including child prostitutes, by his men.”

The Iraqi Government, on the other hand, has other priorities, pushing ahead with new censorship legislation:

Iraq Censorship Laws Move Ahead

NY Times reports (August 3rd): The doors of the communications revolution were thrown open in Iraq after the American-led invasion in 2003.
Now those doors may be shut again, at least partially, as the Iraqi government moves to ban sites deemed harmful to the public, to require Internet cafes to register with the authorities and to press publishers to censor books.
But opponents of the proposals question why Iraq would seek to impose the same sorts of censorship that had been among the most loathed aspects of daily life under Saddam Hussein and suggest that they are another example of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s working to consolidate his power. The new policies will put Iraq more in line with neighboring Islamic states.
The new rules constitute a “return of dictatorship,” said Ziad al-Ajeeli, who directs the Society to Defend the Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit Iraqi group.

Monday 3 August 2009

Recent news

AFP reports that violent deaths in Iraq fell by a third in July, the first month that Iraqi police and troops were in charge of security in urban areas since the 2003 US-led invasion> Full story: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jfYpXDl9nYybBF1Q_U7C-nWWnMKA

More back-pedalling on US troop withdrawal: the BBC reports: "Nearly a month after American troops officially withdrew from urban areas in Iraq, they are quietly going back in again, patrolling the streets of towns and cities where, despite improvements in security, violence remains an everyday occurrence."

And Dahr Jamail: http://www.truthout.org/072909A

Meanwhile Huffington Post has a lengthy exclusive on US interrogation methods: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/23/hussam-mohammed-amin-form_n_243818.html#postComment