This video from the USA is an interview with Major General Antonio M. Taguba on torture in Abu Ghraib.
By Tom Eley in the USA:
Torture photos: US soldiers raped, sodomized Iraqi prisoners
29 May 2009
In an interview with the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph published Wednesday, former US General Antonio Taguba said that photographs the Obama administration is seeking to suppress show images of US soldiers raping and sodomizing Iraqi prisoners. Taguba, who conducted the military inquiry of prisoner abuse at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 after some photos of US soldiers torturing prisoners became public, said that among the photos are images of soldiers raping a female prisoner, raping a male detainee, and committing “sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and phosphorescent tube,” according to the Telegraph.
Gen. Taguba said even the description of the photos is explosive. “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency,” Taguba said. “The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”
Also from the USA: Members of the 101st Airborne Division were ordered to suspend regular operations at the Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Army base Wednesday after the suicide toll rose to 11 for the year: here.
Foreign Office abandoned me to Iraqi jail torture, Briton says: here.
Nearly 50,000 rapes take place in the UK every year, but only a few are covered by the media: here.
Iraq faces the mother of all corruption scandals: here.
Busted, Pentagon: Why The Photos Probably Do Show Detainees Sodomized and Raped, by Naomi Wolf: here.
U.S. Soldiers Accused Of Raping Iraqi Women Escape Prosecution: here.
Denials of involvement in torture, such as those by Tony Blair, are not enough. A full judicial inquiry is needed: here.
Memories Of Turquoise – Thamir Alkhafaji
Artiquea Gallery, London SW6
Thursday 28 May 2009
by Judith Amanthis
Iraq’s blues brother offers art for a brighter future
Memories of Iraq before the war constitute Thamir Alkhafaji’s dreams for the future. His art transforms blue, especially turquoise and midnight blue, into hope.
Turquoise has – or had – many applications in Iraqi life.
It’s the dominant colour of Islamic art, it’s the colour that many Iraqis believe wards off envy – thus enhancing community – and the colour to which house-builders return, or did, again and again.
Alkhafaji is primarily a ceramicist and has exhibited widely in Iraq. He creates a high degree of luminescence – the way a colour reflects light – both by the glaze on his ceramics and in his paintings.
Using only the gorgeous colours of Islamic art – blue, orange, red, yellow and gold, some greens, interestingly I saw no purple – his palette refers to a tradition rarely mentioned by Western colourists.
Also unfamiliar in the West is the use of calligraphy to create both abstract and figurative images.
Worked into nearly all Alkhafaji’s pieces are Arabic letters – 28 altogether. They’re fluid. They become formalised domes, minarets, balconies, coloured glass windows, crescents on mosques and the trees and plants of ancient Sumer, Mesopotamia and Babylon, all sustained by water – the Tigris and Euphrates.
City Of Letters, a spectacular ceramic mural whose blues alone range from midnight, lapis, sky and sea blue to turquoise, exhibits Alkhafaji’s style perfectly – the concentration of recognisable figure, where colour plays a crucial part, into abstract form.
In Old Baghdad (oil on canvas), a balcony floats dreamily on the side of a building, “pointillist” paint application used just like Neoimpressionism to increase the luminescence and brilliance of colour.
“We call the technique ‘spotting’,” Alkhafaji says.
“And that balcony is actually an Arabic letter.”
In another painting, a midnight blue, vermilion and gold minaret reads “Allah.”
Although Arabic script is by no means confined to the Arabic language, the latter is the language of the Qu’ran, read by practising Muslims worldwide.
Most of Alkhafaji’s letters don’t add up to words and sentences, however, and many of his forms are purely abstract or refer to Iraq’s pre-Islamic cultures.
A lovely muted turquoise ceramic plate, Sumerian Turquoise, sports a nude woman with “lady” written across her stomach in Sumer script.
Sacred Model is an unglazed terracotta sculpture seething with women’s thighs, hands and eyes, from which a man’s face looks out. But he doesn’t look. His hands cover his eyes.
Alkhafaji says: “I’m showing great respect for the model. So the looking is for art only.”
Two wall ceramics, Chained Body and Three Spirits, delicately contrast by colour and formal relationship a woman’s constrained body with her free one.
The latter is a study in turquoise hues with a contrapuntal splash of pinkish terracotta at its centre.
This show offers an insight into the art traditions of one country whose people surely wish to be out of the spotlight. It has destroyed rather than enhanced the colour in their lives. Alkhafaji gives it back.
Exhibition runs until May 31 at the Artiquea Gallery 82 Wandsworth Bridge Road, London SW6 2TF (020) 7731-2090.
Three remaining in Iraq coalition
IRAQ: Romania’s small military contingent ended its deployment in Iraq on Thursday, reducing the US-led coalition to three countries.
Meanwhile while in the north of the country another US soldier died in combat.
President Barack Obama reassured Iraqis in a speech in Cairo on Thursday that the US would stick to the timeline dictated by a security agreement, with the first step to pull back from cities by July.
But Iraqi clergyman-turned-politician Muqtada al-Sadr called for the “resistance” to continue.
Soldier’s diary details wider abuse at prison
Va. staff sergeant facing court-martial implicates other agencies in Army
By Scott Shane Sun National Staff
May 1, 2004
The Iraq journal of Staff Sgt. Ivan L. “Chip” Frederick II, penned in careful handwriting and mailed home as he feared becoming a scapegoat for egregious military misdeeds, paints a nightmarish picture of overworked, undertrained guards coping with hostile Iraqi prisoners and using tactics that flagrantly violated international rules for treatment of detainees.
If true, the 37-year-old reservist’s statements are a devastating indictment of a U.S. military that toppled a brutal dictator only to be accused of torturing Iraqis in a prison, Abu Ghraib, notorious for similar and worse horrors during Saddam Hussein’s rule.
Frederick wrote his 10 pages of dated, diary-style entries and sent them to four relatives as the Army prepared to charge him with assault and other crimes. His account presumably seeks to minimize his responsibility for the abuse.
But his journal is replete with dates, names and grisly details – from the cover-up of the death of a prisoner in custody to descriptions of detainees left naked in chilly isolation cells for days. And it accords with complaints lodged for months by the human rights group Amnesty International, which called yesterday for a “fully independent, impartial and public investigation” of prisoners’ treatment throughout Iraq.
In its most chilling lines, Frederick’s journal describes the death in November of an Iraqi described as an “OGA prisoner” – an abbreviation for “Other Government Agency,” military jargon for the CIA and other nonmilitary agencies.
“They stressed him out so bad that the man passed away,” Frederick writes. The corpse was packed in ice and later prepared to suggest falsely that the prisoner had died under medical care: “The next day the medics came in and put his body on a stretcher, placed a fake I.V. [intravenous drip] in his arm and took him away. This OGA [prisoner] was never processed and therefore never had a number.”
Abuse urged, he writes
A disturbing repeated assertion in Frederick’s journal is that the abuse was encouraged by U.S. interrogators from “MI,” or military intelligence, and “CID,” or the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. Both are under intense pressure to help stop attacks on U.S. troops.
But no intelligence or CID personnel are among the 17 people, including Frederick, whom the Army has charged or named as under investigation. So Frederick’s journal suggests that culpability reaches far beyond those implicated to date.
Frederick writes that when he questioned guards’ conduct – “leaving inmates in their cells with no clothes or in females’ underpants, [and] handcuffing them to the door of their cell” – he was told not to worry.
“The answer I got was this is how Military Intelligence (MI) wants it done,” he writes. “MI didn’t want any of the inmates talking to each other. This is what happened when they were caught talking.”
Later, describing how prisoners were stripped naked and deprived of light, ventilation, water and toilets, Frederick asserts: “MI has been present and witnessed such activity. MI has encouraged and told us great job [and] that they were now getting positive results and information.”
Likewise, an agent from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command told a guard “to stress one prisoner out as much as possible [because] he wanted him to talk the next day,” according to Frederick.
Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Criminal Investigation Command, said he could not comment because the investigation of prisoner abuse is not over. No spokesman for military intelligence could be reached, but an officer in one MI unit mentioned by Frederick said he had no knowledge of any abuse.
In civilian life, Chip Frederick is a $26,722-a-year senior correctional officer at Buckingham Correctional Center, a medium-security prison in rural central Virginia. His wife, Martha, works in the prison’s training department.
The prison houses 985 inmates – roughly the same number now held at Abu Ghraib – including some convicted of murder. Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Correction, said officers such as Frederick are trained at a state academy.
‘A long bumpy road’
Frederick’s uncle, Bill Lawson, described his nephew as a well-built man of 6-foot-2 who enjoys fishing and barbecuing. Stepfather of his wife’s two teen-age daughters, Frederick worked at a Bausch & Lomb factory until it closed down and got the prison job about six years ago, Lawson said.
Reached by phone at Buckingham Correctional Center, Martha Frederick said, “We realize it’s going to be a long, bumpy road.” Of her husband, she added, “He’s doing OK.”
Frederick’s journal portrays himself and his fellow military police officers as struggling, with little guidance or support, to cope with prisoners who could be extremely challenging. He writes that the guards were “working a 12 to 14 hour shift ten straight days before getting a day off” and facing inmates emboldened by their belief that they “would not be treated as under Saddam.”
Frederick contrasts the absence of clear rules at Abu Ghraib with the precise instructions he has at the Virginia prison, where guards have approved sanctions to use to control prisoners’ behavior.
The only independent inspections of Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities are carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Spokesman Florian Westphal in Geneva said that by policy, Red Cross inspectors never publicize mistreatment they find to preserve access to detainees.
Instead, they complain to prison authorities. If nothing changes, “in some instances, we’ve gone right up to the head of state,” Westphal said.
In his journal, Frederick mentions that before a January visit from the Red Cross, there was a flurry of activity to “process” prisoners, or formally document their identity and status.
An Amnesty International spokesman said yesterday that as long ago as July, his group reported that prisoners released from Abu Ghraib were describing severe mistreatment.
One detainee, arrested “after slapping his son and nephew to stop them fighting,” spent 44 days in Abu Ghraib without being able to change clothes, shave or cut his hair, Amnesty reported. “Detainees were not given blankets to lie on, water was limited and the toilet was an open trench in view of all,” the report said.
“We warned that denying access to prisoners by lawyers and family members removes an important protection against ill treatment,” said Amnesty spokesman Alistair Hodgett.
Amnesty’s watchdog work has turned up similar abuses in other facilities, he said.
“Questions about the treatment of prisoners in Iraq obviously goes far above the level of the guards,” Hodgett said.
Sun staff writers Gus G. Sentementes and Jeff Barker contributed to this article.
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