Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Continued protests

Protests continued in Iraq. David Ali (Al Mada) reports that the government in Baghdad is expressing concerns about the ongoing protests and Ali notes that "hundreds" have demonstrated in Baghad in the last days carrying banners which called for basic services (such as adeuqate sewage) and demanding change. Al Mannarah reveals that Tuesday the Baghdad security resorted to water cannons and batons in order to drive out the protesters and that many of the demonstrators were wounded. There was a sit-in in the Green Zone and that Baghdad army was deployed to surrounding streets and barbed wire and concrete barriers were quickly put up to prevent more people from joining the demonstration. The demonstrators called for many things including no more arrests without warrants, basic human rights, improved basic services, an end to corruption, an end to the pensions for former members of Parliament, jobs, improved electricity, improved ration card systems. Other protests are covered in the article as well but the new feature to these ongoing protests would have to be in Kut where a number of disabled and challenged persons participated in the protests as they called for jobs by marching in front of the Wasit Provincial Council. Alsumaria TV notes, "Hundreds of Falluja citizens took to the streets on Tuesday to voice their demands. Demonstrators called to stop arbitrary arrests, to resume conscription and to dismiss any foreign nationality holder from the government. They called as well to end the US deal."

Baghdad's college age youth are calling for a large turnout February 25th in Baghdad. Dar Addustour reports Sheikh Qasim al-Tai has endorsed the students' protest and stated that they have the right to peacefully protest and that no one should attack them, that to attack any one of them is to attack the dignity of Iraq itself. Of the protest in Kirkuk yesterday, the paper notes that it originated with the complaints over the lack of basic services which led to meetings where residents discussed the services, the lack of jobs and the ration card system and then called a protest. Al Mada notes that arrests of protesters has been taking place in Baghdad and, in an editorial, they note reports of violence being used against protesters in Baghdad and call on the security forces to provide protection to the demonstrators, not to attack them. Dar Addustour notes yesterday celebrations were held to mark the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Mohammad and that Iraq's Sunni Vice President, Tariq al-Hashemi, declared on the occasion that Iraq needs to reform and to do so quickly, to hear the voice of the country's people,

Turning to reported violence, Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraqi authorities uncovered a mass grave north of Baghdad on Saturday with tens of bodies of Al-Qaeda victims, many of them women, children and members of the security forces, police said. Iraqi security forces uncovered a mass grave north of Baghdad on Saturday with 76 bodies killed by Al Qaeda, in the outskirts of Al Naher region in southern Baaquba." Saturday's bodies were not victims of 'al Qaeda.' AFP reports 3 Turks were kidnapped from their home in Kirkuk. Al Rafidayn reports that a Karbala car bombing wounded 2 people and a security guard was shot dead in Baghdad and the paper reports Sheikh Ashairma and his brother was shot dead in their home today by unknown assailants dressed in Iraqi military uniforms.

On the political front, Dar Addustour reports that Ayad Allawi, head of the Iraqiya bloc, held a press conference in Baghdad yesterday and announced they are propsoing four nominees for the post of Minister of the Defence -- three soldiers and one civilian -- and that Allawi stated the agreement hammered out to allow Nouri al-Maliki to become prime minister gives Iraqiya the choice in who becomes Minister of the Defense. Al Mannarah reports that despite the fact that Parliament was supposed to review the laws regarding vice presidents yesterday, the Kurdish bloc refused to take part in the session. The President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, has pushed for a fourth vice president and not the three previously decided upon. This was supposed to be addressed on Sunday; however, it wasn't. The vote is now said to take place "next week."


The CIA and Pentagon used “enhanced interrogation techniques”(EIT) on Middle East prisoners knowing they were illegal and considered to be torture by the United Nations, according to an article published in the January issue of the American magazine “Science.”

Tortures including sensory deprivation, forced nudity, and painful body positions were “routinely applied to detainees in U.S. custody in at least three theaters of operation and an unknown number of (CIA) 'black sites,'” the article states. The U.S. did this “despite the fact that each EIT was considered torture by the United Nations and the United States (had) recognized them as such in its reports on human rights practices.”

Entitled, “Bad Science Used to Support Torture and Human Experimentation,” the “Science” article was written by physicians Vincent Iacopino, Scott Allen, and Allen S. Keller. Dr. Iacopino is a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine; Dr. Keller is director of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture; and Dr. Scott Allen, associate professor of medicine and co-director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Alpert Medical School, Brown University. All three are consultants to Physicians for Human Rights, of Cambridge, Mass.

Dr. Keller has long treated torture victims and in earlier testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence elaborated on the extensive use of enhanced interrogation techniques(EITs) as follows: “While the full spectrum of such techniques used by U.S. authorities including the Central Intelligence Agency has not been disclosed, there have been reports that the 'enhanced' interrogation program includes methods such as stress positions, shaking and beating, temperature manipulation, threats of harm to person or loved ones, prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, sensory overload, sensory deprivation, sexual humiliation, exploitation of fears and phobias, cultural or religious humiliation, and water-boarding. From a medical, scientific and health perspective, there is nothing benign about them. Such techniques are gruesome, dehumanizing and dangerous.”

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