[Marxism] Amnesty: Torture pattern in Iraq

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed May 5 09:33:38 MDT 2004

(In today's world, confirmation comes very quickly.
Just a few weeks ago Amnesty International, which
has invested a great amount of its organization's
historic prestige in its campaign against Cuba,
found itself confronted with the possibility of
being CONSISTENT about its interest in problems
with human rights in Cuba. 

(Amnesty helped Washington by blinking in the face
of the Cuban challenge. AI said they supported the
contents of the resolution brought by Cuba asking
the UNHRC and other UN bodies to send investigators
to Guantanamo. The resolution was not adopted, but
caused a lot of commotion among those who had been
so vocal in criticizing what they called abuses of
human rights they claimed were occurring in Cuba.



Amnesty: Torture pattern in Iraq

LONDON, England -- A leading human rights group has said
graphic pictures shown on TV and in newspapers of alleged
abuse of Iraqi prisoners by coalition soldiers are the tip
of the iceberg and that it has uncovered widespread

London-based Amnesty International said it hoped the images
apparently showing detainees being mistreated would force
the U.S. and British governments to launch an independent
investigation into the abuse claims.

The allegations surfaced Wednesday when the American
network CBS broadcast images allegedly showing Iraqis
stripped naked, hooded and being tormented by their U.S.
captors at an Iraqi prison.

And on Saturday a newspaper in London published photos it
said were of British troops kicking, stamping and urinating
on a hooded Iraqi in Basra, southern Iraq, where Britain
has about 7,500 soldiers.

The images have sparked anger among Muslims across the
world while both U.S. President George W. Bush and UK Prime
Minister Tony Blair said they were appalled by them.

But Nicole Choueiry, Amnesty's Middle East spokeswoman,
said the group had detailed "scores" of reports of
ill-treatment over the past year but the U.S.-led Coalition
Provisional Authority in Iraq had ignored them.

"We have said there are patterns of torture by coalition
forces," Choueiry told CNN on Sunday.

"The only good thing to come out of this would be if the
pictures forced the coalition to launch an independent
investigation and for its findings to be published in

Choueiry said the authenticity of images published by the
Daily Mirror on Saturday was largely irrelevant. "These
pictures are certainly not the only evidence of abuse. They
are just the tip of the iceberg."

Newspapers across the Muslim world have been running the
photographs of U.S. soldiers apparently humiliating
detainees at Abu Ghraib prison on their front pages. Those
in Iraq did not carry the photos.

Activists in Southeast Asia's two largest Muslim countries,
Indonesia and Malaysia, condemned the alleged abuse as a
"despicable" show of Western hatred towards Muslims, and
demanded the coalition leave Iraq immediately.

"Such despicable acts prove the double standards of
America, a country that always preaches about human rights
to the rest of the world," said Nasharuddin Isa, secretary
general of the fundamentalist Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party,
the country's largest opposition political group.

Nasharuddin said the images showed "an unforgivable
violation" of the Geneva Conventions, which govern the
handling of captives.

"The U.S. and British troops must leave Iraq immediately,"
Nasharuddin told The Associated Press.

"Their actions have clearly shown the hatred of their
countries toward Islamic people. How can they continue to
say that their intention all this time has been to liberate
the Iraqis?"

The U.S. military said six soldiers had been charged with
criminal offenses for abusing inmates at Abu Ghraib prison,
which was infamous under Saddam Hussein's reign.

"It would appear to us that if, in fact, the pictures are
what they appear to be, they will face a court of law, a
criminal court of law, and they will have to face a judge
and a jury for their actions," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt

President Bush Friday expressed disgust at the images,
saying the apparent mistreatment of the Iraqi prisoners
"does not reflect the nature of the American people. That's
not the way we do things in America." (Full story)

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said any abuse of Iraqi
prisoners was "completely and totally unacceptable" and, if
the photographs proved to be genuine, he would "condemn it

"We went to Iraq to get rid of that sort of thing, not to
do it," Blair said.

"I think in fairness however, we should say, that there are
thousands of British troops in Iraq doing a very brave,
extraordinary job on behalf of the Iraqi people and on
behalf of our country to make the country better," he

British Army commander Gen. Michael Jackson, speaking on
behalf of Britain's minister of defense, said he was aware
of the allegations regarding British troops and that the
Ministry of Defense had launched an investigation.

"If proven, not only is such appalling conduct clearly
unlawful, but it also contravenes the British Army's high
standards of conduct," Jackson said in a statement. (Full

Anger in Arab capitals A government-leaning newspaper in
Egypt, Akhbar el-Yom, showed the photographs of U.S.
soldiers posing by naked, hooded inmates, under the banner
"The Scandal". Al-Wafd, an opposition paper, displayed
similar photos beneath the words "The Shame," reported The
Associated Press.

In Cairo, a spokesman for the Arab League said it had
complained of abuses by U.S.-led forces after a mission to
Iraq in December. The League feared more cases of
ill-treatment were going unnoticed, he said.

"It is beyond the words of despicable acts and disgust that
we feel at watching such photographs," Hossam Zaki told

"The irony of it is that Saddam Hussein never really held a
banner of spreading freedom...He was an autocratic ruler, a
dictator, a repressive ruler, whatever you want to call
him. It was expected to witness such atrocities under his

"But to have the American soldiers supposedly bringing
freedom and democracy and the American way of life to this
part of the world, spreading this kind of shameful
misconduct, that is an irony that to my taste is very

Zaki said the Arab League mission had heard similar
accounts of abuse in Iraqi prisons, but did not have
supporting evidence. But he said the mission had raised its
concerns with the Iraqi Governing Council and the U.S.
embassy on its return to Cairo.

"(It) is most likely that there are other cases that have
not been photographed," he said.

"Shame on America. How can they convince us now that it is
the bastion of democracy, freedoms and human rights? Why do
we blame our dictators then?" asked Mustafa Saad, who was
reading morning papers in a downtown Cairo cafe, the AP

Mohammed Hassan Taha, an editor at Nile Sports News
Television, said Arabs should not allow the matter to pass
quietly, according to the AP report. "This is not
humiliation of Iraqis, it is humiliation of all Arabs,"
said Taha, while buying a newspaper with the photos on its

Dara Nor al-Din, a former judge and member of the
U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, said the torture of
prisoners and detainees or showing them naked contradicts
principles of human rights.

"We used to criticize Saddam's regime regarding the beating
of detained people, so why should we accept to repeat the
same tragedy. This is not acceptable," Nor al-Din told AP.

At Baghdad's Mustansiriyah University, student Ahmad Taher,
24, asked, "Is this the way the Americans treat prisoners?"

"Americans claim that they respect freedom and democracy,
but only in their country," Taher, 24, added.

Hussein al-Saeedi, spokesman for Kuwait's al-Salaf radical
Islamic group, said the images "make every sensible person
doubt all the principles Western democracies are offering"
and show the need for an end to the U.S. occupation.

"America justified its invasion of Iraq by saying the
country was under a dictatorship. Unfortunately, Americans
are now torturing the Iraqi people in the same place Saddam
tortured them," he said.

Copyright 2004 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may
not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Associated Press contributed to this report.

Find this article at:


Cuba criticizes US for 'arbitrary detentions' of Afghans at
Gutantanamo Bay

Vanessa Bauza

April 25, 2004

HAVANA · When it comes to being accused of keeping
political prisoners incommunicado and denying them access
to international human rights monitors, Cuba is generally
in the hot seat.

Last week, however, Havana tried to turn the tables on
Washington when it sought to rally support at the U.N.
Human Rights Commission for a resolution criticizing the
"arbitrary detentions" of Afghans and others held at the
U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.

The resolution called for an investigation into the
conditions of 600 detainees held for two years as "enemy
combatants." It was to be voted on as one of the last items
on the commission's agenda in Geneva. But in a stinging
speech, Cuba's ambassador to the United Nations, Jorge Mora
Godoy, withdrew it minutes before it was to be discussed,
stating U.S. pressures had made it impossible to garner

Godoy accused Washington of coercing the European Union and
its allies in Latin America into supporting a "no action
motion," which would have prevented the resolution from
going to a vote if Havana had not withdrawn it first.

"Tangible is the fear of Western countries and some in
Latin America to stand up with dignity to the fascist
practices of the U.S. administration lest they receive
reprimands and retaliation," Mora Godoy told the commission
Thursday. "The hypocrisy of the champions and advocates of
human rights against the countries of the south has been

Richard Williamson, who heads the U.S. delegation in
Geneva, rejected Mora Godoy's claims that Washington
blackmailed countries that have citizens imprisoned in
Guantanamo by threatening to suspend their contacts if they
supported Cuba's resolution.

"You know when a Cuban lies. It's when they move their
mouth," Williamson told an Associated Press reporter in

In Havana, a U.S. diplomat said Cuban officials were
engaging in doublespeak by calling for investigations into
conditions on the Guantanamo base when they had repeatedly
rejected a proposal for a similar visit to the island by a
U.N. rights monitor. The International Red Cross has
visited Guantanamo; it was last allowed to visit Cuban
prisons in 1988.

Perched on Cuba's eastern coast behind miles of barbed
wire, scrubby hills and a land-mined no man's land, the
naval base at Guantanamo Bay was largely a Cold War relic
used to house Haitian and Cuban migrants until January
2002, when suspected al-Qaida and Taliban fighters were
transferred there.

The indefinite detentions without charges or access to
courts have spurred a flurry of condemnation from a wide
sector of critics including former U.S. prisoners of war
who fear it sets a bad precedent. Last week a lawyer for
the foreign-born Guantanamo prisoners challenged their
detention for the first time before the U.S. Supreme Court,
arguing that the United States had created a "lawless
enclave" by denying them access to U.S. courts. The Bush
administration, however, argued that giving the detainees
access to courts would impede the war on terror.

Organizations such as Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch, which have sharply criticized Cuba's
imprisonment of 75 peaceful dissidents, also are critical
of the Bush administration for keeping the Guantanamo
prisoners in a "legal limbo." They found themselves in the
unusual situation of supporting the Cuban resolution while
distancing themselves from its author.

"We agree with the resolution, even though we rarely agree
with what Cuba has to say at the commission," said Joanna
Weschler, U.N. representative for Human Rights Watch. The
conditions of detention at the base and the lack of access
to lawyers are issues Weschler would have wanted addressed
at the commission. But she said backroom lobbying has
eroded the commission's effectiveness. "These days big and
powerful countries are shielded from any scrutiny," she

Similarly, Alexandra Arriaga, associate director for
advocacy for Amnesty International, said she would have
welcomed the attention given to the Guantanamo detainees,
but was tentative about embracing Cuba's resolution.
"Guantanamo is an important issue for the international
community to consider, but one has to wonder whether it is
not politically motivated when the issue is raised by Cuba,
which has its own record," she said.

Cuba presented the resolution on Guantanamo immediately
after the U.N. commission voted 22-21 in favor of a
U.S.-backed motion criticizing Havana's crackdown on
dissidents. Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque vowed
that the resolution seeking an investigation of conditions
at Guantanamo would be presented at a future U.N. forum.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Vanessa
Bauzá can be reached at vmbauza1 at yahoo.com

Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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