Testimony at World Tribunal on Iraq
Testimony on War Crimes and the Recent Situation in Iraq
The following testimony was given by independent journalist Dahr Jamail at the World Tribunal on Iraq, held in Istanbul, Turkey June 23-29. Fifty-four testifiers were heard by a Jury of Conscience drawn from 10 countries. The testimony, and the verdict, can be found at www.worldtribunal.org
Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist from Alaska who has spent more than 8 months in Iraq. His reporting can be found at www.dahrjamailiraq.com
In May of 2004 I was interviewing a man who had just been released from Abu Ghraib. Like so many I interviewed from various US military detention facilities who'd been tortured horrifically, he still managed to maintain his sense of humor.
He began laughing when telling of how US soldiers made him beat other prisoners. He laughed because he told me he had been beaten himself prior to this, and was so tired that all he could do to beat other detained Iraqis was to lift his arm and let it drop on the other men.
Later in the same interview when telling of another story he laughed again and said, "The Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house."
But this testimony is not about the indomitable spirit of the Iraqi people. About the dignity and strength of Iraqis, we need no testimony. This testimony is about ongoing violations of international law being committed by the occupiers of Iraq on a daily basis in regards to rampant torture, the neglect and impeding of the health care sector and the ongoing failure to allow Iraqis to reconstruct their infrastructure.
To discuss torture--there are so many stories I could use here, but I'll use two examples which are indicative of scores of others I documented while in Iraq.
Ali Shalal Abbas was lives in the Al-Amiriyah district of Baghdad. So many of his neighbors were detained that friends urged him to go to the nearby US base to try to get answers. Since he worked for civil administration, he went three times to get answers as to why so many innocent people were being detained during US home raids.
On the fourth time he was detained himself, despite not being charged with any crime. This was September 13th, 2003. Within two days he was transferred from a military base to Abu Ghraib, where he was held for over three months.
"The minute I got there, the suffering began," said Abbas, "I asked him for water, and he said after the investigation I would get some. He accused me of so many things and asked me so many questions. Among them he said I hated Christians."
He was forced to strip naked shortly after arriving, and remained that way for most of his stay in the prison. "My hands were enlarged because there was no blood because they cuffed them so tight. My head was covered with the sack, and they fastened my right hand to a pole with handcuffs. They made me stand on my toes to clip me to it."
Abbas said soldiers doused him in cold water while holding him under a fan, and oftentimes, "They put on a loudspeaker, put the speakers on my ears and said, 'Shut Up, Fuck Fuck Fuck!'"
Treatment included holding a loaded gun to his head to make him not cry out in pain as his hand-ties were tightened.
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