Pakistani, tortured in Iraq, sues British government

This rock music video from Brazil is called Torture Squad – Holiday in Abu Ghraib (Official Music Video HD). Lyrics are here.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

MoD and Foreign Office sued by Pakistani citizen in Iraq torture case

Yunus Rahmatullah accuses UK of complicity in torture and abuse after his capture by British special forces in Iraq in 2004

Richard Norton-Taylor

Tuesday 29 July 2014 09.56 BST

A Pakistani citizen is suing the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office, accusing them of responsibility for his subjection to torture and severe abuse over 10 years.

Yunus Rahmatullah was captured by British special forces in Iraq in 2004 and handed over to US troops soon afterwards. The incident was initially kept secret from ministers and only disclosed to MPs five years later, in 2009. Rahmatullah, now 31, was released by the US without charge in May.

He is believed to have been first held at Camp Nama, a secret detention facility at Baghdad airport that British troops helped to run. He was later transferred to Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib jail before being rendered to the Bagram “black prison” in Afghanistan.

The court of appeal ruled in 2011 that Rahmatullah was unlawfully detained and ordered a writ of habeas corpus – the ancient British legal right to be charged or released from arbitrary detention – to be issued.

However, lawyers acting for the government later successfully argued in the supreme court that British ministers had no power “to direct the US” to release Rahmatullah from Bagram.

He describes in detail his torture and abuse in a 60-page document drawn up by his lawyers and seen by the Guardian. He says when he was captured by British special forces in Iraq in early 2004 he was beaten unconscious. Soldiers cut his clothes with a pair of scissors until, he says, he was “completely naked”.

His lawyers’ statement of claim describes how a soldier poured water on to Rahmatullah’s face after placing a cloth over his mouth and nose causing “a sensation of drowning”.

He was shackled and hooded, and lapsed in and out of consciousness as he was beaten and thrown against a wall. He was suspended upside down and “repeatedly dunked into a tank of water”, says the court document.

At one point, he was taken to a room “where he was horrified to see six or seven naked detainees piled on top of each other”, according to the court statement. He was thrown on top of the detainees and kept in the room for more than two days.

Despite an agreement signed by Britain and the US that specifically referred to the rights of prisoners of war and detained civilians enshrined in the Geneva conventions and international humanitarian law, Rahmatullah was handed over to US forces who secretly took him to Afghanistan. His entire body, including his eyes and mouth, were “taped tightly with duct tape”, the court document says. He was locked in a solitary cell with rats and cockroaches. With other Bagram detainees, he was exposed to daylight in 2006, for the first time in two and half years.

After going on hunger strike, he was subjected to force-feeding on six separate occasions. Apart from limited communication with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representatives, he had no contact with the outside world, including his family, until 2010.

British officials, their “servants and agents”, were “recklessly indifferent to the illegality of their actions”, Rahmatullah’s lawyers have told the high court.

Kat Craig, legal director at the human rights group Reprieve, who has recently visited Rahmatullah, said he had been “through 10 years of frankly unimaginable horror”.

She added: “Now that he has finally been able to speak freely to his lawyers, there is no longer any doubt that the British government bears responsibility for his torture and illegal rendition to Bagram.”

Craig continued: “Yunus was robbed of 10 years in the prime of his life; a time when he wanted to find a career, choose a partner and build a family.

“The government must now come clean about the full extent of British involvement in this disgraceful episode in our history – only then will Yunus be able to move on and try to rebuild his life.”

Reprieve legal directors says there is ‘no doubt’ of British responsibility for torture and rendition of Yunus Rahmatullah: here.

Abu Ghraib torture, ten years later

This video says about itself:

8 June 2012

The Center for Latin American Studies helped facilitate the display of Fernando Botero’s “Abu Ghraib” collection at the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos in Santiago, Chile. The paintings and drawings were donated to Berkeley after the first showing at a public institution in the United States was arranged by the Center on the Berkeley campus in 2007. This video highlights the exhibition and includes footage from the opening ceremony.


Abu Ghraib’s Ghosts

Ten years later, the United States still hasn’t come clean on its torture record.


April 27, 2014

Ten years ago today, “60 Minutes II” broadcast infamous pictures of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison then controlled by the United States. The photographs were heartbreaking. Naked men stacked up on top of each other in human pyramids. Prisoners forcibly staged in humiliating positions to mimic sex acts. Bags placed over men’s heads, denying their humanity. The most memorable image — a hooded man standing on a box, contorted Crucifixion-like with wires protruding from his hands — remains an indelible reminder that a country that long abhorred torture practiced it after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Those pictures shattered my belief that well-established democracies do not torture. I am a survivor of torture who owes his release from the Argentine junta’s notorious Unit 9 prison in part to U.S. pressure in the 1970s. If U.S. citizens and certain members of Congress had not written letters to the Argentine government inquiring about my situation, I might have become one of the thousands of people “disappeared” by the Argentine military in its Dirty War against political activists like me. I owe my life to the solidarity those Americans showed and their principled opposition to the military’s machinery of death and torture.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government that stood up to my torturers has been compromised — by both the Bush administration, which adopted torture as policy, and the Obama administration, which has kept evidence of U.S. torture hidden for years. It also is being compromised by the Central Intelligence Agency itself.

Here’s how. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s massive 6,600-page report on the CIA’s post- Sept. 11 torture program remains secret, although the committee recently voted to send the report’s executive summary, findings and conclusions to the White House for a declassification review. To be clear, the whole report should be public, not just pieces — but there’s a more urgent matter that must be dealt with immediately. According to the White House, President Barack Obama will allow the CIA to review and redact the report summary — a preposterous conflict of interest. Once again, the torturers will have the opportunity to censor what the public can know.

Already, leaked portions of the documents, obtained by McClatchy, show that CIA officers used torture methods that went beyond those approved by the Bush-era Justice Department and CIA headquarters, and that the agency evaded congressional, White House and public oversight. This isn’t surprising. Torture, you see, is a cancer that corrodes the morality of the perpetrators. It is so horrific that even its practitioners must lie to themselves and others to justify their actions, which shock not only the conscience of the world but their own. The CIA does this by rationalizing its brutality with the false argument that torture was necessary to save lives, or by simply relabeling the horrors of torture as the banal “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

This leaves an obvious question: How will the whole truth come out when the perpetrators are the ones holding the black marker? The answer is obvious, too: It will not. That not only violates solemn obligations of the United States under international law but has real consequences for human rights. As many countries with sordid histories of abuse know, those societies that reckon with their brutal pasts — Argentina, Chile and Peru, for instance — go on to have better records of protecting human rights, as well as defending their citizens from terrorists and other violent criminals. But societies that try to bury the past — including many former Soviet bloc countries — are more likely to continue their human rights violations and harm both their national and domestic security in the process.

While there are hugely important distinctions between the previously mentioned countries and the United States, the lesson still applies: The United States has a moral and legal obligation to discover and disclose the entire truth about torture committed by its agents, as a reminder to future administrations and to the world that torture is the very negation of human rights.

Just days after Obama took office in 2009, he did the right thing and immediately banned torture. But the 10th anniversary of the release of the Abu Ghraib photos, plus a still-secret report on the U.S. torture program under George W. Bush, serve as a reminder that Obama must do more before we can be confident that torture was an aberration that will never be repeated. He must take responsibility and lead the nation forward. The president — and not the CIA — must decide what is made public about the agency’s torture program. And he should release the Senate’s torture report in full.

The United States can once again become a full partner in the global movement for human rights, but only if it faces up to its dark side and atones for its torturous transgressions.

Juan E. Méndez is the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

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Greek police torture anti-nazis

Greek anti-nazi's injuries, caused by police torture

By Christoph Dreier:

Greek police torture anti-fascist protesters

11 October 2012

Demonstrators protesting against the fascist Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) party were beaten and tortured after their arrest by Greek police at a demonstration on September 30.

According to the victims, the police used techniques similar to the torture practised in prisons such as Abu Ghraib. Prisoners were beaten, filmed naked and had their skin burned. This was reported on Tuesday by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which published photographs of the protesters’ wounds.

On Sunday September 30, some 15 young people gathered in the Athens district of Aghios Panteleimon, together with about 150 like-minded protesters who arrived on motor bikes to protest an attack on a Tanzanian community centre. Several members of Golden Dawn appeared on the scene.

Shortly afterwards, scuffles broke out, a large number of police officers stormed into the demonstration from nearby streets and arrested some of the protesters. According to the protesters’ lawyer, they were arrested for “disturbing the peace with covered faces”—that is, they were wearing motorcycle helmets.

Many of those affected said that they were maltreated by police officers at the station who insulted them, hit and spat on them, as well as using them as ashtrays. They were kept awake the entire night, and for 19 hours received neither food nor drink, nor allowed contact with legal representatives. Some reported how their skin was burned using a cigarette lighter.

Police officers filmed them and threatened they would post the pictures on the Internet and give their addresses to the fascists of Golden Dawn.

Two of the women affected complained of sexual insults and violence; one of the men reported that the police had violently splayed his legs and kicked him in the testicles. Another reported that despite an open head wound, he was refused any medical care for hours and was further beaten.

The next day, when a solidarity demonstration for the detainees took place, there were numerous arrests. A group of 25 protesters told the Guardian that they were beaten at the police station and forced to strip naked, bend over and open up their buttocks. They said that many other officers and detainees were also present at this time.

One of the victims said, “He did whatever he wanted with us—slapped us, hit us, told us not to look at him, not to sit cross-legged. Other officers who came by did nothing.”

One of the victim’s lawyers, Charis Ladis, said that violence at police stations had previously been an exception.

“This case shows that a page has been turned. Until now there was an assumption that someone who was arrested, even violently, would be safe in custody. But these young people have all said they lived through an interminable dark night.”

The reports are certainly not an exception, but express the reality of the ever closer collaboration between the police and Golden Dawn, which received 6.9 percent of the vote at the last elections, entering parliament for the first time.

Not only did a large number of police officers vote for this party, but they have covered up for the party’s brutal attacks on immigrants and political opponents. There have been many reports of police officers telling people making complaints about alleged criminal activities by immigrants to speak directly to Golden Dawn representatives, who were supposedly responsible for dealing with “problems with immigrants”.

For months, the Greek government has not only been building up the fascist party in this way but has also encouraged xenophobia. In August, the authorities mobilised 4,500 police officers for a mass anti-immigrant raid.

The witch-hunting and persecution of immigrants continues to this day. The aim is to track down so-called illegal immigrants and deport them. The minister responsible for homeland security, Nikos Dendias, is consciously encouraging xenophobia to divert attention away from the social attacks being carried out by the government. He has stated Greece’s “immigrant problem” is bigger than its financial problems.

The use of torture in Greek prisons is no accident. Police are using force to terrorize the population and break up any expression of popular opposition to the reactionary austerity policies of the European Union (EU).

The fact the government has gone from encouraging and covering up for the fascists to torturing political opponents is a clear warning to the entire European working class. Such scenes were last witnessed in Europe after the colonels’ coup in Greece, or under the fascist dictatorships in Spain and Portugal.

They show how far the social conflict has advanced. The government is prepared not only to mobilise the police, but the most backward and depraved layers of society to break the resistance of the working class to the austerity diktats of the EU. While the first blows are aimed at immigrants and anti-fascist protesters, they will be turned next against all Greek workers who dare to oppose social barbarism.

The Greek government is working with the full support of the EU, which has not only encouraged and welcomed the actions against immigrants, but also tolerates the growing police violence and the cooperation with the fascists. Not a single representative of the EU or a European government has so far made a statement about the torture of the protesters. The actions of the Greek police are being accepted in silence.

The images showing the mistreated demonstrators reveal the true face of the EU, which is the most important instrument of the financial elite to destroy the social gains of the working class across the continent. These social attacks, which are most advanced in Greece, are incompatible with democratic rights. The events in Athens demonstrate that the EU elite is quite prepared to encourage fascist gangs against workers rather than make any concessions.

Golden Dawn violence and police collaboration: here.

A Fascist party in full cry. Black-shirts smashing migrants’ homes. Swastikas on the streets. No, not Germany in the Thirties: Greece 2012: here.