Sunday, February 26, 2006



Almost a thousand a month

That's the death toll in Baghdad from Iraq's death squads, according to former UN human rights ambassador John Pace. According to his monitoring, approximately three quarters of the bodies in the city's morgue show evidence of execution or torture - which, turned around, means that around three times as many Iraqis are being murdered by the government as die of natural causes. And that's only the ones being killed.

Much of the statistical information provided to Mr Pace and his team comes from the Baghdad Medico-Legal Institute, which is located next to the city's mortuary. He said figures show that last July the morgue alone received 1,100 bodies, about 900 of which bore evidence of torture or summary execution. The pattern prevailed throughout the year until December, when the number dropped to 780 bodies, about 400 of which had gunshot or torture wounds.

"It's being done by anyone who wishes to wipe out anybody else for various reasons," said Mr Pace, who worked for the UN for more than 40 years in countries ranging from Liberia to Chile. "But the bulk are attributed to the agents of the Ministry of the Interior."

Those agents - many of whom were recruited from the Badr Brigade, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq's private militia - are completely shameless about their activities. They arrest people openly and publicly in broad daylight, and then a couple of days later the bodies turn up in a rubbish dump with a bullet in the back of the head and drillholes and burn marks and bruises all over them. Some are still restrained by government-issued handcuffs. The net effect is to create a vicious circle, where people are driven to turn to extremist groups for protection from their own government, the association with which is then used as an excuse by that government to torture and murder them.

This is the "new Iraq" that Bush and Blair have created. And honestly, it seems to be little different from the old one. The only difference is in who is in charge and who their victims are. And that is no real difference at all.

2 comments:

There are many differences but the major one is that because Iraq is moving towards a fully functioning democracy then this is a tempory state of affairs. Under Saddam it was permanent.

I note that you appaer to be implying that this is soley the result of Bush and Blair. A very Western-centric view given that the etnic and religious animosities in Iraq have their own origins and have been around for quite some time.

Posted by neil morrison : 2/27/2006 08:28:00 AM

A very simplistic analysis. Bush and Blair deserve credit for continuing to push for the development of democracy in Iraq. With the weasels we have in most Western countries there's absolutely no chance any of the democratic developments in the Middle East would have occurred.

Of course, that doesn't mean Bush and Blair have handled the situation very well. Clearly they haven't and clearly they should be criticized for their pathetic handling of Iraq.

It would, though, be nice to read something that didn't fit so tiresomely into the classic anti-Bush commentary.

It really is very boring.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/27/2006 08:50:00 PM