Friday, July 16, 2010

More British torture

Another day, another revelation of British torture. Today, its not just collusion with the Americans, but active cooperation, with allegations that a British army unit was involved in the beating, waterboarding, and mock execution of an Iraqi prisoner:

Mr Eedan, who is being represented by human rights solicitors Public Interest Lawyers, says he was a senior member of Iraq's National Intelligence Service before his arrest and detention. In his witness statement he alleges that a joint unit of American and British soldiers raided his Basra home at around 1am on 11 August 2008 while he, his wife and four children were asleep.

He claims a British soldier hit him in the face and when he fell to the ground three others stamped on him. Another British soldier terrified his family by firing his rifle inside the house.

"I was led to my bathroom. A British interpreter and soldier arrived, together with two US soldiers," recalled Mr Eedan, who now works as a Basra restaurateur. "The American soldiers started to interrogate me with the British soldiers translating."

After he failed to identify four photographs of Iranian suspects linked to rocket attacks on British bases, the American soldiers began to beat him with their rifle butts, he alleges. A British captain then started questioning him about the whereabouts of rockets.

"The American soldier threw me on the floor, took his gun out, stuck it to my head and began swearing at me. He wanted to shoot me and I thought he was going to. The soldiers took a bucket, filled it with water and pushed my head into the water many times, pulling it out each time it looked I was about to lose consciousness ... they continued for almost three hours."

Mr Eedan also claims that both the US and British soldiers beat him severely. "One of the soldiers was particularly tough. He kicked me and struck me repeatedly with a rifle butt. It was relentless. As for the British captain, he was swearing at me, insulting my family and my mother. He said, 'You used those rockets against us and we are going to get our own back on you.'"

At the end of this ordeal, he was turned over to the Americans, who tortured him further. When he was released, they explained his imprisonment and torture had been the result of "mistaken identity".

Torture is a crime under both UK and international law. It is not enough for the British government admit wrongdoing and pay compensation - it must also track down those responsible and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. Anything less is granting impunity to torturers - a war crime in and of itself.