Thursday, January 31, 2013

The abuse in Iraqi prisons

Most recently, in November, federal police invaded 11 homes in the town of al-Tajji, north of Baghdad, and detained 41 people, including 29 children, overnight in their homes. Sources close to the detainees, who requested anonymity, said police took 12 women and girls ages 11 to 60 to 6th Brigade headquarters and held them there for four days without charge. The sources said the police beat the women and tortured them with electric shocks and plastic bags placed over their heads until they began to suffocate.
Despite widespread outcry over abuse and rape of women in pre-trial detention, the government has not investigated or held the abusers accountable. In response to mass protests over the treatment of female detainees, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a pardon for 11 detainees. However, hundreds more women remain in detention, many of whom allege they have been tortured and have not had access to a proper defense.

That's from Human Rights Watch's "Iraq: A Broken Justice System," issued today.  "At last, in English," was my thought.  The treatment of women and girls in Iraqi prisons and detention centers has been the motivating factor for outrage in Iraq for months now and one of the main underpinnings of the protests.  But it has been repeatedly ignored by English language outlets who seem to think they've done their jobs if they've bothered to make a generic reference to "prisoners."

Of course, there's the radio show we're not currently noting.  Not because they trashed Kathryn Bigelow.  I know and like Kathryn and they're not fit to evaluate a film beyond thumbs up or thumbs down but that's not the point.  The point is that morning they had announced they would be discussing the issue of the women and girls in Iraqi prisons.  Instead, we got eight minutes of trashing Kathryn Bigelow for directing the incredible Zero Dark Thirty.  And I can call it "incredible" because, unlike them, I've actually seen it. 

But for eight minutes of broadcasting time, they went on and on ripping apart Kathryn and her film -- a film they would admit they hadn't seen yet -- but they couldn't cover the issue of Iraqi women and girls?

I'm sorry, I have no time for that crap.  They're like spoiled children who want ice cream at the start of a meal and refuse to eat vegetables.  They want the froth and fun, the easy work (and what's easier than trashing a film you didn't even bother to see) but they don't want to do the heavy lifting.  Eight minutes on US radio about what's happening to Iraqi women and girls in prisons and detention centers?  That could have made a difference.  Instead, it was work off the Little Red School House's Radical Talking Points of the Day.

Hope they enjoyed it.  It did nothing to improve the lives of Iraqi people.  Then again, rape's one of the torture methods in these prisons and we're talking about two men who have ridiculed two women who may have been raped -- ridiculed and mocked.

Iraqi women and girls are suffering. 

We can talk Zero Dark Thirty here or anything else because we eat the vegetables every day, we do the heavy lifting.  This is going into the ninth year.  Every day there is at least one entry (Sundays only has one by me) on Iraq.  Usually, there are multiple ones.  So I don't have a lot of sympathy for supposed or alleged radicals who can't be bothered with addressing actual issues like torture.  They're oh so good at begging for money and sounding high minded when they're begging.  But after they take your money in a pledge drive they seem to forget all their wonderful words of self-praise.

Iraqi women and girls are suffering.  The people of Iraq are aware of it.  It's a real shame that those with the power to shine a light refuse to do so -- refuse to do so day after day after day after . . .

When Al Mada, for example, reports on abuse in prisons in Iraq, they're being really brave.  For those of us outside of Iraq to do so requires no bravey, it only requires compassion.  Apparently 21st Century America will be characterized by a lack of compassion.

Al Mada reports today that Iraqiya MP Nabil Hrbo states that mutliple violations are taking place in the prisons including food issues, humiliation and being chained to columns naked.  Kitabat notes that the Arab Organization for Human Rights today has announced Cleric Hassan al-Mullu Ali Baktash died from torture in a Baghdad prison.  He'd been held there for four years.  They're calling for the Arab League's Secretary-General and the United Nations' Secretary-General to address the issue beofe others like the 58-year-old cleric end up dead.  (He was grabbed by Nouri's forces on February 23, 2009 and had been imprisoned ever since.)  Among the torture the cleric was subjected to?  Electrocution, beaten with cables and a plastic bag placed over his head for suffication.

Human Rights Watch notes today:

(Baghdad) – Iraq’s leadership used draconian measures against opposition politicians, detainees, demonstrators, and journalists, effectively squeezing the space for independent civil society and political freedoms in Iraq, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2013.
The number of violent civilian deaths in Iraq increased in 2012, for the first time since 2009. Thousands of civilians and police were killed in spates of violence, including targeted assassinations, amid a political crisis that has dragged on since December 2011. Alongside the uptick in violence, Iraqi security forces arbitrarily conducted mass arrests and tortured detainees to extract confessions with little or no evidence of wrongdoing.
“As insurgent groups targeted innocent Iraqis in a multitude of coordinated attacks throughout the year, Iraq’s security forces targeted innocent civilians in mass campaigns of arbitrary arrests and abusive interrogations,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “After decades of dictatorship, occupation, and terrorism, the Iraqi people today face a government that is slipping further into authoritarianism and doing little to make them safer.”

Al Mada reports preparations are beginning already for tomorrow's protests and that organizers are speaking of solidarity with the Falluja martyrs. (Last Friday saw the Falluja Massacre -- seven people dead and sixty injured when the military opened fire on the protesters.)  All Iraq News reports that the Falluja Criminal Court has announced arrest warrants for military personnel involved in the shootings.

From yesterday's snapshot:

Meanwhile in Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki is stripping political rivals of their protection according to charges made to Alsumaria.  Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, a leader in the Sahwa forces, told the network that he had lost his bodyguards and when he asked why he was told it was on the orders of Nouri al-Maliki.  What seems to be happening is this:  government forces providing protection to various politicians throughout Iraq are being ordered by Nouri to return to Baghdad out of some fear -- real or imagined -- on the part of Nouri that he's about to be overthrown.

The Iraq Times sees the removal of the bodyguards as Nouri attempting to punish Abu Risha for his backing of the protests.  Abu Rhisa tells Kitabat that the protests will continue until the legitimate demands are met.  In violence this morning, Alsumaria reports a Mosul bombing has left two federal police officers injured

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