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.

By JUAN E. MÉNDEZ:

Abu Ghraib’s Ghosts

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

By JUAN E. MÉNDEZ

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.

‘Closed’ Iraq torture prison still open


This video is called Secret Prison Camps Honor & Justice In Iraq.

By Barry Malone:

Iraq‘s Secret Prison Still Open, Human Rights Group Claims

05/15/2012 3:28 am Updated: 05/15/2012 11:29 am

BAGHDAD, May 15 (Reuters) – Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday Iraqi authorities were still running a jail they said had been shut over a year ago after reports of prisoners being beaten and electrocuted, but the government denied this, saying the site was empty.

The New York-based watchdog and other critics of the administration of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accuse it of pushing Iraq back towards authoritarianism by cracking down on protests, harassing opponents and torturing detainees.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the prison, known as Camp Honor, is inside Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone, an area that houses most government offices and foreign embassies.

Camp Honor is a former U.S. military base of more than 15 buildings that was handed over to Iraqi forces in 2006. The last U.S. forces left the country in December.

Human Rights Watch said its latest report was based on interviews with 35 former prisoners, witnesses, family members, and government officials.

The report alleged that, in addition to Camp Honor, there were two other secret prisons inside the Green Zone.

HIDING PEOPLE AWAY

Human Rights Watch said that, since October 2011, the government has carried out several waves of detentions, surrounding neighbourhoods and going door-to-door with lists of people marked for imprisonment.

“Iraqi security forces are grabbing people outside of the law, without trial or known charges, and hiding them away in incommunicado sites,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

It called on the Iraqi government to reveal the names and locations of all prisoners, free those not yet charged with any crime and set up an independent judicial authority to try those who had been charged.

Human Rights Watch said in a Feb. 1 report that security forces were torturing inmates at Camp Honor, citing interviews with former detainees.

As well as electrocution, asphyxiation and beatings, the group said prisoners were packed into windowless cells that “reeked of human excrement”.

Torture was widespread in Iraq under Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, who was ousted in the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and executed in 2006. Disclosures in 2004 that U.S. jailers had abused and sexually humiliated Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison outraged many Iraqis. (Additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Allegations that British troops carried out systematic torture of civilians during the occupation of Iraq were set to be heard in court on Thursday of this week: here.

Australian complicity in Abu Ghraib torture


This video from the USA is called Abu Ghraib covered up, Congress misled by Rumsfeld.

By James Cogan:

Documents prove Australian complicity in Iraq war crimes

13 July 2011

Documents obtained last week by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), after a six-year legal battle, confirm what was already clear in 2004: that the Australian military was complicit in the torture committed by American forces at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in late 2003. The documents, finally released by the Department of Defence to comply with a Freedom of Information request lodged in June 2005, also demonstrate that the Australian government of Prime Minister John Howard concealed information from Senate Estimates hearings into whether Australian personnel were aware that war crimes were being committed.

In January 2004, the US military announced that it was investigating claims of abuse at Abu Ghraib―aware that leaked photos of the sadistic treatment of Iraqi detainees would inevitably become public. The first photos were published in late April 2004 and provoked a storm of international revulsion, further fuelling mass antiwar sentiment.

The Howard government was one of the few in the world that still had forces deployed in the US-led occupation of Iraq when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. Its immediate response was to deny that either it or the Australian military had prior knowledge of prisoner abuse. Howard declared: “We were not involved.”

This claim was soon exposed as a lie. Australian military officers were embedded in US military headquarters in Baghdad and were aware of the allegations surrounding Abu Ghraib and other cases of abuse. They had seen an October 2003 Red Cross report that provided damning details of prisoner mistreatment, and they communicated the allegations to their superiors and the government in Canberra.

Australian Major George O’Kane was working for the main US military legal unit in Iraq. In August 2003 he provided advice on the legality of the interrogation techniques that the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade intended to apply at Abu Ghraib. O’Kane visited the prison on a number of occasions. He drafted replies to two Red Cross reports outlining charges of abuse, in which he argued some Iraqi prisoners were not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Britain: The Supreme Court has banned the state from using secret evidence by the state in a bid to cover up allegations of complicity in torture: here.

The 28th Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan was killed on July 4. In what is becoming a routine, Prime Minister Julia Gillard used the occasion of giving the nation’s condolences on July 6 to harangue an increasingly sceptical public about the necessity for the occupation to continue: here.

As if it’s not bad enough that our Defence personnel are being used as cannon fodder in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are now taking to the streets of Sydney “to provide assistance to the people of Australia in times of civil emergency, including in response to terrorist incidents”: here.

Film director Jim Loach explores the deportation of thousands of children from England and their incarceration in Australia’s outback: here.

Australia’s controversial intervention policy on aboriginal communities: here.

An Australian Navy cadet who filmed himself with a mobile phone raping a woman as she slept wanted to be accepted by his peers, a court heard: here.

US Defense Secretary visits Iraq to extract new troop agreement: here.

The epidemic of soldier and veteran suicides in the U.S.: here.

THE Court of Appeal will on Monday 18th July 2011 commence a three-day hearing to consider the lawfulness of the refusal by Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Defence, to hold a public inquiry into allegations of torture and inhumane treatment of Iraqis by British forces: here.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox will be challenged at the Court of Appeal tomorow over his refusal to launch a public inquiry into the alleged torture of Iraqis by British troops: here.

A ‘Toxic Genre’ – The Iraq War Films: here.

Torture in Bush’s ‘new’ Iraq


This video is the film Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, about prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

The government of “liberated” Iraq operates secret prisons and routinely tortures prisoners to extract confessions that are used to convict them, Amnesty charged today: here. See also here.

The wife of an Iraqi-British national allegedly tortured by Iraqi security forces called on the Foreign Office today to ensure he receives a fair trial in Iraq: here.

US anti-torture soldier’s suicide


This music video from the USA says about itself:

A song of mourning for Alyssa Peterson who took her own life after working in “the cage” for only two days as an interrogator in Iraq.

From Greg Mitchell’s blog in the USA:

The U.S. Soldier Who Committed Suicide After She Refused To Take Part in Torture

September 13, 2010

With each revelation, or court decision, on U.S. torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gitmo — or the airing this month of The Tillman Story and Lawrence Wright’s My Trip to Al-Qaeda — I am reminded of the chilling story of Alyssa Peterson, who died seven years ago this week. Appalled when ordered to take part in interrogations that, no doubt, involved what most would call torture, she refused, then killed herself a few days later, on September 15, 2003.

Of course, we now know from the torture memos and the U.S. Senate committee probe and various press reports, that the “Gitmo-izing” of Iraq was happening just at the time Alyssa got swept up in it.

Spc. Alyssa Peterson was one of the first female soldiers who died in Iraq. Her death under these circumstances should have drawn wide attention. It’s not exactly the Tillman case, but a cover-up, naturally, followed.

Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native, served with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. She was a valuable Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq.

The soldier who committed suicide after she refused to go along with torture, Part II: here.

Pat Tillman’s Brother: ‘I Wish He Would’ve Lit These F–king Idiots Up’: here.

Pat Tillman’s Mom Wants General Stanley McChrystal Removed From White House Post: here.

Britain: Reprieve has condemned the coalition government’s decision to wash its hands of former British resident [and Guantanamo prisoner] Ahmed Belbacha.