Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Statues of Iraqi Women

This is a collection of links to some TV programs and reports dealing with the Statues of Iraqi women now. The report write-ups were copied directly from the source.

Inside Iraq - The condition of Iraqi women- 01 Aug 08 Part 1 & 2
Although brutal and violent, a study has shown that Iraqi women were more protected under Saddam's reigm compared to the situation after the US-led invasion in 2003. Iraqi women today are subjected to random violence of assault, rape, kidnapping or death at the hands of suicide bombers, American troops, Iraqi police, even radical religious groups and local thugs.

Inside Iraq - Zainab Salbi - 14 Aug 09
Zainab Salbi, a critically acclaimed author, is the founder of Women to Women International, an organisation which helps women in post conflict zones.

As an Iraqi American, women in Iraq hold a special place for Zainab.

She grew up in the shadow of Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president as her father was his personal pilot.

She also witnessed first hand the violence of the Iran-Iraq war and decided early on in her life that she would help other women whose lives had been torn apart by war.

She fled Iraq at the age of 19 and just a few years later, in 1993, started Women to Women International. Her organisation has now helped more than 120,000 women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, Kosovo, Nigeria, Colombia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

Since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, she has made more than 20 trips to her home country to chronicle the status of women and girls. Zainab just returned from her most recent visit and reports that there have been many changes.

She is deeply concerned about the growing number of impoverished women and the effects that will have on the rates of literacy, early marriage and polygamy.

And she is shocked by a new generational development, where young women in their 20s are less educated than their own mothers and are growing up with fewer liberties.

In this special episode of Inside Iraq from Washington DC, Al Jazeera's Abderrahim Foukara discusses with Salbi the status of women and girls in Iraq today.

Everywoman - Iraqi women - Part 1&2
Four years after the start of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Everywoman explores the real issues facing women in Iraq today.

The Plight of Iraqi Women
Journalist (Observer) Peter Beaumont
on the plight of Iraqi Women. "There is a culture of permissive violence against women in Iraq"

NBC Report on Violence against Iraqi Women
NBC investigates the recent wave of violence against women in Iraq.

IRAQI women are being attacked.
IRAQI women are being attacked.

Iraqi women in "silent emergency" - 08 Mar 09
On International Women's Day, a new report released by the aid agency Oxfam says women in Iraq are trapped in a "silent emergency".

It describes the women of Iraq as the forgotten victims of the recent war.

Many have been widowed by the violence and are forced to work, while looking after their children at the same time.

Iraq Women Speak Out (Excerpt) In March 2006, Code Pink invited eight Iraqi Women to the U.S. to speak about their experiences under the U.S. invasion and occupation. They were doctors, engineers, professors, and journalists. Two of the women had their entire families killed by U.S. troops. They were denied visas to enter the U.S. on the grounds that they did not have sufficient family to guarantee they would return to Iraq.

The six women who were given visas traveled separately to dozens of cities throughout the U.S., speaking with community groups, churches, veterans, and families of active duty GIs. They asked Americans to end the occupation and bring all the troops home immediately. Upon their return to Iraq they faced death threats, lost their jobs, and some were forced into exile.

The remarkable courage of these women and the authenticity of their witness to the horrendous reality of the occupation challenges Americans to take responsibility for the actions of the U.S. government and force an end to the

Iraqi Women Prisoners
The status of Women in Iraqi prisons currently under US occupation. A report by Arwa Damon for CNN.

Rare footage inside Iraqi women's prison - 07 Oct 07
Iraq's vice-president is highlighting the plight of women prisoners in Iraq. Many are detained for years without charge. Some have been sentenced to death without being questioned. Sebastian Walker has been looking at rare pictures just released of women's prisons in Iraq.

Iraqi women and girls swap one hell for ...
Thousands of women and girls have left Iraq and its extreme violence for countries such as Syria. But, once there, they find themselves trapped in a world of forced prostitution.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A nation crucified

The decision by President Obama not to release the picture of torture at Abu Ghraib and other US detention facilities did not surprise me. President Obama did not want the world to see pictures of Iraqi kids being raped by US military personal in front of their mothers or kids were sodomized. He defiantly did not want the world to see pictures detainee’s hair shaved to resemble a Christian cross especially when he is going to address the Muslim next month.

The Average American (Mr. AA) does not want to believe that the government he elected was involved in torturing and killing innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 270 torture pictures were published by Other pictures were later published by Australia's Special Broadcasting Service. Despite of those pictures and US official reports Mr. AA has been in state of delusion and denial for the last seven or eight years. He much rather sweep this under the rug so he doesn’t see evil.

One of the reasons why Obama changed his mind and blocked the release the picture is the fact that some of the pictures and videos show prison guards sodomizing young boys in front of their mothers, both with objects as well as physical rape. This was first reported in 2004 by the British newspaper the Guardian.

The London Telegraph also reported “US soldiers 'seen raping woman' in new jail photos” and “US soldiers beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death and having sex with a female PoW,” as well as a videotape, apparently made by US personnel, which shows “Iraqi guards raping young boys”. Some of these facts could also be found in US official Taguba Report.

Abu Ghraib, or better renamed Abu Gulag, was not the only American detention and torture center. NAMA "Nasty Ass Military Area" at Baghdad Airport and run by US elite task force 6-26 is another US official torture center. Their motto is "No Blood No Foul," meaning "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." This torture center was a subject of Human Rights Watch report.

The release of the Bush administration torture memos and the COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES UNITED STATES SENATE report concluded among other things that:

“The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at GTMO. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's December 2,2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.”

A video Abu Ghraib Torturers Expose US Government Direct Torture Orders and the American documentary film GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB are worth watching. CNN last week interviewed on of the detainees of Abu Ghraib watch Abu Ahmed interview

Ancient civilizations were remembered by the hug pyramids that they built. I hope Americans can do something to destroy the image of their disgraceful human pyramid they built at Abu Gulag

Back in 2005 I published something about this subject I am adding it for further information.

Abu Ghraib, Abu Gulag and Abu American Lies

by Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar

Abu: “The father of” in Arabic.

Gulag: The worst type of prison.

With the migration of torture from from Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib evolved into Abu Gulag. With the protection of those responsible for the U.S. torture policy it has become Abu American lies.

In the late 1950s the Iraqi government commissioned an American consulting firm to design and build a modern prison in Baghdad. It was decided that the nearby agricultural area of “Abu Ghraib” was the best place to build the prison. We had our American designed “model” prison in the early 60’s.

Like many police forces in the world the Iraqi police forces had “detention” centers inside the police station where suspects are kept. It is at these police stations that interrogations are done. These interrogations were supposed to be supervised by interrogation judges from the ministry of justice. In most cases suspects continued to be the responsibility of the ministry of interior until the end of trials. Once sentenced to prison the criminal was handed over to the ministry of social affairs which is responsible for Abu Ghraib prison and others.

Iraq Security police and the Iraqi intelligence agency “Mukhabarat” and other security forces each has their own “detention” centers and interrogating judges independent from the ones at the local police stations or Abu Ghraib prison.

It is most likely that at these “detention” centers human rights are violated or “torture” is used to extract “confessions” to be “used” in the court to put “criminals” at Abu Ghraib prison. “Convicted” criminals, prisoners, very seldom were re-interrogated in the prison hence very seldom were “tortured” at Abu Ghraib prison. In most cases torture was done before the prisoner was sent to Abu Ghraib to serve a sentence issued by a court.

Under Saddam, the notoriety of Abu Ghraib prison was in fact due to the very large number of prisoners in death row rather than “torture.” Since 1980 laws were introduced or amended to make more crimes punishable by capital punishment. Some laws were strange. Breaking into a house for stealing carries the death penalty if it is done at night while the same crime committed during the day carries a less penalty. Drug cases were also another example. Courts in Iraq were obliged to follow these laws.

The increased number of executions at Abu Ghraib was mostly attributed to the increase number of crimes punishable by death and due to the socio-economic crises that Iraq went through during Iraq-Iran war, 1991 Gulf War and the 13 years of economic sanctions.

In November 2002 Saddam surprised everyone by freeing all prisoners in prisons as well as those in detention centers and police stations. Criminals arrested that day were actually released some without literally setting a foot in the police stations. That day I saw TV reports of journalist going through the empty Abu Ghraib prison. I also saw relatives of detainees waiting for family members at one of the known interrogation centers of the fearful Mukhabarat.

After the fall of Baghdad in April 2003 people looted what ever was left in Abu Ghraib prison, doors, window frames – anything they could put their hands on. It is fair to say that after one week of looting Abu Ghraib was not fit to be used for anything. Similarly police stations and their small detention cells and other interrogation centers were looted and burned. The Iraqi police force was dissolved and the American armed forces were the “only game in town.” The American forces started arresting common criminals, people suspected of resistance activities, sometimes people suspected of nothing and they needed “detention centers” and “interrogation centers” outside their military camps. This forced them into using the Abu Ghraib prison after fixing it.

Under the American control Abu Ghraib was transformed from a prison to a “detention and interrogation” center. American forces lacking the language skill, the cultural understanding and sheer volume of detainees were frustrated by the lack of progress in getting the intelligence information they needed. This frustration led to the “migration” of interrogation methods developed in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. This was the beginning of the Abu Gulag prison. It is at that time that the father of the worst prisons was created in Iraq by the American forces.

Saddam’s Abu Ghraib was a jail of convicted criminals – at least there was an appearance that they were convicted in Saddam’s courts. The American Abu Gulag was a place where people were detained with no judicial orders and detainees were tortured to speedily extract information from them.

Three factors contributed to the atrocities at the American Abu Gulag. Firstly, America shielded its people of any legal responsibility under Iraqi law. This blanket immunity encouraged American forces and American civilian contractors to violate the law without being prosecuted in Iraq or answering to their atrocities. Secondly, U.S. officially “migrated,” meaning approved, authorized, these inhuman interrogation techniques. Thirdly, the U.S. intimidated Arab media from even talking about such things. I provided information and photos to Arab media outlets and they would not touch it because of U.S. pressure. In August/September 2003 I approached Al-Arabia satellite station in Baghdad about a torture story. I was told by the station director in Baghdad that they have instructions from the American forces not to cover such subjects. I went to Al-Jazeera office and they agreed to send a reporter with me. I documented the torture story in the presence of an American lawyer, Al-Jazeera was reluctant to broadcast the story. Eventually Dahr Jamail broke the story along with pictures and information I provided.

Torture and human rights abuses apparently were common even before the official “migration” of the interrogation rules. Now we know that the U.S. Navy seals had pictures of human rights violations in May 2003. I know that Amnesty International was handed different pictures of torture also in May 2003 when they were visiting Baghdad.

President Bush told the Iraqi people and the world that Iraqis will not be tortured again since he has deposed the dictator, Saddam who tortured his people. For one year we the Iraqi people tried hard to believe him. Then when the Abu Gulag pictures were made public we were told over and over that those responsible for what happened to our countrymen would be held accountable. But now, one year later, those who signed the decrees authorizing torture, and those like President Bush himself, who were told by human rights groups about the torture, have not been held accountable. We are now told that what was done was by few people taking the “law” into their own hands and were actually just “seven bad apples.” But, we are not fools – we know an Abu Lie when we hear one.