Tuesday, July 05, 2005

More on torture in Iraq

Via Scoop, Knight-Ridder had a story last week detailing the systematic abduction, torture and murder of Sunnis in Iraq:

Days after Iraq's new Shiite-led government was announced on April 28, the bodies of Sunni Muslim men began turning up at the capital's central morgue after the men had been detained by people wearing Iraqi police uniforms.

Faik Baqr, the director and chief forensic investigator at the central Baghdad morgue, said the corpses first caught his attention because the men appeared to have been killed in methodical fashion. Their hands had been tied or handcuffed behind their backs, their eyes were blindfolded and they appeared to have been tortured. In most cases, the dead men looked as if they'd been whipped with a cord, subjected to electric shocks or beaten with a blunt object and shot to death, often with single bullets to their heads.

Marks on the bodies were similar to the injuries found on prisoners who were rescued from secret Interior Ministry jails by representatives of the Iraqi ministry for human rights, according to family accounts and medical records.

The careful "people wearing Iraqi police uniforms" is no accident; the US military believes that these murders are being carried out by insurgents posing as police. But while Iraqi police uniforms are cheap, the cars they drive, and the weapons and radios they use are not. If these are not the Interior Ministry commandos they appear to be, then they have full access to their equipment.

The Knight-Ridder story also quotes the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights as having freed almost a hundred prisoners from Interior Ministry facilities, most of whom had been tortured:

Most of those who were tortured had their hands cuffed behind their backs, were blindfolded and had been beaten by cords or subjected to electrical shock, Sultan said. Baqr, at the morgue, said the bodies that have been brought to him handcuffed and blindfolded had been similarly abused.

They also quote Iraq's Attorney-General, who says outright

"We cannot admit that our police are doing it; it would make them look weak"

The problem is that its fairly clear that they are doing it. In one case cited by the Observer, a man whose capture had been trumpted on TV turned up dead, still handcuffed, and bearing the same marks of torture. That's fairly conclusive evidence of where the responsibility lies.

This is widespread, and it is systematic; Knight-Ridder was able to turn up more than 30 examples of such murders in less than a week. It is clear that the new Iraq has become a hotbed of torture, just like the old one.