Friday, August 27, 2004

Website: The Documental Center for Human Rights in Iraq

Currently this website is only available in Arabic, but English pages are under construction. Includes photographs and documentation. Thanks to Doug for the link.

Documental Center

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

"The Quality of Death"

"Numbers do not capture the quality of death that remains the main issue for those still alive. In any case most victims meet a different fate [from those whose executions are officially recognized]. The pattern is for agents to pick someone up from work, or at night from his house. No explanations are proffered as there would be in an official killing. Unlike Central American 'disappearances' in which the state denies complicity, the Ba'ath give the event a macabre twist. What one assumes to be the corpse is brought back weeks or maybe months later and delivered to the head of the family in a sealed box. A death certificate is produced for signature to the effect that the person has died of fire, swimming, or other such accident. Someone is allowed to accompany police and box for a ceremony, but at no time is he or she permitted to see the corpse. The cost of the proceedings is demanded in advance, and the whole thing is over within hours of the first knock on the door.

The gap between the formality and the reality of such a death can henceforth be acted out as a gigantic lie by all concerned, including the victim's family who now are able to announce the event and carry out the appropriate public mourning ceremony. The lie that lives has replaced the grisly truth buried in the casket."

- Kanan Makiya, "Republic of Fear" (1989), ch. 2.

The Shadow of the Past

From Mohammed at Iraq the Model:

'Something caught my attention while I was examining the students, some of the names do not belong to the south in any way; names that are not even Arabic and when I asked about it the students told me that they were Kurds. “What would the sons of the mountain do in the south?”I asked. Here an old man tried to make things clear for me he said that they were 500 families forced to leave their homes and brought to the south in the early 1980s “these kids were born here” he added with tears starting to form in his eyes “but it’s ok, we’re all Iraqis and here is our land too; this is what Saddam planned for us, twenty years is too much time and my son got married here. We have to accept it and I wish that Allah will avenge us”. Later I knew that most of those families returned to their lands in the north while 13 families decided to stay in Samawa.

I felt pain, deep inside, I’m supposed to work here for one single year but I’m counting days to go back to my beloved Baghdad. What would I do if I had to stay here for the rest of my life. I kicked these thoughts out of my mind; this is beyond my capabilities and it’s not going to happen again in our new Iraq.

I heard a lot of unconfirmed stories about crimes committed by Saddam’s regime in this town but I’m going to mention one of these because I met the victim himself. He’s an agricultural engineer and I met him one evening in the coffee shop. He was dedicated to his job as many of the locals said.

When the uprising started in 1991 he was taken with his family to one of Saddam’s jails “Saddam’s dogs left me handicapped” he said and showed me his arms that were full of ugly scars from torture “they used a hot iron to burn my arms” I shared his pain with him while he was telling me the details “I survived because I was not found guilty but my two brothers were not lucky as I was; I’m still looking for their bodies in the mass graves” and continued “Saddam had stolen every dream we had, look at the desert just beside the river! we couldn’t plant anything here, and even now we don’t have the money or the technology and Baghdad was and still taking the priority. I doubt they will look after us soon. The future is not for my generation, it’s for our children”.'

"Dreams and Worries"

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Assyrian Woman Testifies to Atrocities

A Lone Woman Testifies To Iraq's Order of Terror

by Peter Finn, Washington Post Foreign Service — July 21, 2003; Page A01.
Special correspondents Souad Mekhennet and Hoda Lazin contributed to this report.

Posted: Sunday, July 27, 2003 at 09:22 PM CT
BAGHDAD — She was walking hurriedly, as if in a trance, oblivious to the weakness in her legs, not seeing the bewildered looks of the American troops trailing her, not hearing her own cries of anguish. Jumana Michael Hanna, tears streaming down her face, had slipped into the darkest recesses of memory.

Hanna, a 41-year-old Assyrian Christian from a formerly rich and prominent Iraqi family, returned last week to the well of her nightmares: the police academy in Baghdad, a sprawling complex of offices, classrooms, soccer, polo and parade grounds -- and prison cells, some of them converted dog kennels, according to American officials who now control the campus.

This is the place where in the 1990s Hanna was hung from a rod and beaten with a special stick when she called out for Jesus or the Virgin Mary. This is where she and other female prisoners were dragged outside and tied to a dead tree trunk, nicknamed "Walid" by the guards, and raped in the shadow of palm trees. This is the place where electric shock was applied to Hanna's vagina. And this is where in February 2001 someone put a bullet in her husband's head and handed his corpse through the steel gate like a piece of butcher's meat.


Full article:
Iraqi Holocaust Files: Assyrian Woman Testifies

Assyrian Woman Recalls Atrocities

Thanks to Dilnareen at KBU for the link.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Torture and Executions

From Hammorabi:
There are countless numbers of the documented crimes and torture of this family and those who worked with it. Some of these crimes and tortured methods are listed below:
1. Mass executions without trials
2. Genocides against Shia and Kurds by chemical and conventional weapons
3. Disappearances of thousands for ever after their arrest
4. Arresting and executing large numbers of young men, women and children during Iraq Iran war. The arrests could happen at any time and in any place.
5. Arresting any students just by simple doubt especially if not in the Baath party Shia and Kurds. In 1980s the Baath introduce what is called the (Closed Colleges and Universities) which means that all the students should be Baathist.
6. Cutting tongues until death
7. Mutilation of the body parts including ears cutting and tattoing on the forehead
8. Decapitations with swords
9. Falakah which is striking the feet with a painful sticks
10. Nails pulling
11. Insertions of glass in the gentilia
12. Death by mass rape (raping the victim by several rapist until death)
13. Death by starving dogs or lions
14. Hanging on a fan
15. Hanging up side down
16. Raping relatives in front of a victim to force him or her to confess
17. Inserting needles or nails in the body
18. Inserting then hammering to drive in a big piece of wood from the anus to go out from the shoulder
19. Keeping the prisoners in a coffins with nails inside it and no air go in but opened for 30 minutes a day
20. Eyes gouging out
21. Putting salt and acids on the wounds
22. Sitting on a broken bottle to go inside the anus
23. Making the prisoners to rape each other or to whip each other
24. Inserting the heads in the faces or the whole body
25. Putting snakes and scorpions and insects with the prisoner in a small cell and he should not kill them
26. Putting the person in Al Mathramah (Chopping Machine) starting with his feet to make his body into mince
There are too many other countless psychological and physical ways of tortures.

Source:December 13, 2003: Saddam's Relatives ...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

40 Men with the Wrong Name

Omar: 'Al Iraqyia TV showed a very sad story that seems closer to fiction but it happened in Saddam’s Iraq. A story that can happen only in a country ruled by brutal regime like Saddam’s and its likes. It’s beyond imagination yet it’s cold reality that reflects the fear the dictator have from his people and his readiness to kill everyone if it takes for him to stay in power.

Such people don’t know the meaning of negotiation or dialog and suspicion is enough evidence for them to kill. The important thing is to give no voice other than the voice of the dictator, a chance to be heard.

I found this story worth reporting and sharing with the others so that we all realize and keep remembering the necessity of the change and why it happened and also to try to imagine what’s happening in other countries ruled by dictators. Just because we don’t hear much about human rights violations and similar crimes in other totalitarian regimes, doesn’t mean that they don’t happen, as this story happened in the early 80s way before the world even heard about Saddam’s horrible crimes.
I found this story particularly important because some people think that Saddam’s victims are only those lying in the mass graves which is so far from the truth, and I’m talking about those killed, or tortured directly by Saddam’s regime and not the victims of wars or sanctions. The mass graves were used only later in Saddam’s days while before that and for a long time, individuals and small groups were executed and assassinated on a daily basis and handed to their families or buried in cemeteries. The number of these victims, and putting in mind the long years of Saddam’s reign, is far from being small or un compared to the number of those buried in the mass graves and I think this story throws a light on that.

Al Iraqyia met a number of undertakers and clerics who work in the largest cemetery in Iraq; Al Najaf cemetery (Najaf city). One of those undertakers said, “the security guards used to come often at night carrying the bodies of those who were executed secretly or died under torture. The burying procedure used to be done very quickly and we never dared to ask anything about the dead men and women, who were they and why were they killed. There was only a brief document with the name of the victim on it and no one from the victim’s family was allowed to attend the ceremonies which were very short.

One night in the beginning of the 80s 10 security cars came carrying the bodies of 10 young men who all seemed in their early twenties. We started to burry them but as we were writing down their names we noticed something really strange, they were all carrying the name “Sabah”! What was even stranger that the same thing happened for the next days. Every day a new group of dead men all named “Sabah” until the number reached 40!

We didn’t know the reason at that time, was it just a coincidence or what? Later on, after the war we knew what happened after one of the security officers was arrested and told the story. The reason behind this strange story was that one of Al Dawaá party members was arrested. He refused to give them the name of the guy in charge of his group and during the terrible torture and as he was about to collapse he broke down and said, “Sabah, a student in the college...” he couldn’t finish his words out of pain and exhaustion and went in coma soon. The man died and they (the security) never knew anything more from him.

Destiny had an appointment with all the student named “Sabah” in the colleges in Baghdad as the arrested man was from Baghdad, and especially with Sheát ones or those who are not know to be loyal enough to the regime. 40 young men died just because they carried the name “Sabah”!”

This is the story as it appeared on Al Iraqyia TV by the undertakers in “Al Najaf” cemitery. Mere doubts were enough to lead a man to death at those times. This was the time when Saddam was still using documents when he executed “traitors” before he changed his style as the number of “traitors” increased incredibly and started to use mass graves in remote areas without using any document. The number was too high to be contained in Iraq’s cemeteries.'

source: Iraq the Model
"Doubts as Evidences"

What is the worst thing?

Alaa: 'Suffice it to say that personal death was not the worse thing, not even in the top league of "Worst Things". I mean, you can see this even now from the kind of terror campaign that [Saddam]� is conducting even from his dying bed. The main concern of prison cell designers� was not to have anything in the cell, which could be used for suicide purposes. This was quite a serious problem for them. A suicide was considered a very serious negligence and could incur cruel punishment. It was not even torture that was the worst thing.

You may think this is some kind of dramatization and exaggeration, but believe me death is nothing compared to having your wife or sister raped in front of your eyes, in seeing your children brought in and tortured in your presence. And so many things like that, I don't like to go on. '

source: The Mesopotamian
November 22, 2003

Death for Laughter

Ays: 'In Islamic traditions, when a person die, his parents should write an obituary on a piece of a black cloth so as to inform the people about his death, so every Muslim would read it and pray upon his soul, in addition to the 3 to 7 days of consolation in a Mosque or at his house.
Under Saddam, when someone was executed it was forbidden to make all that.

[A consolation posted after the liberation of Iraq]

Alfatiha/The remembrance to the death of the deceased, the Pediatrician
Dr.Hisham Mahir Al-Salman
Was executed in Nov -21- 1988 in an accusation of laughing at a joke about Saddam Hussien.
He is a father of Dr.Mahir and the father of Dr.Zaed Tariq’s and the engineer Ammar Al-Dujaily’s wives.
We are to Allah and to him we belong

That was one of millions of Iraqis who were the victims of the beast.'

source: Iraq at a Glance
"The Cause was a Joke"