July 30, 2008

Crucified by "Freedom"

The story am about to tell you is a true one. I have kept the details unchanged, but I did change the names, location and dates to protect the anonymity of the victims.

Ahmad lives in an insalubrious, run down apartment in Syria with his wife and 5 kids. Prior to his forced exile, he lived in a decent neighborhood and in a large home, large enough for his family and his parents.

After the occupation and during the usual nightly American raids, that all Iraqis have experienced, Ahmad's life took a definite turn from which he will never recover.

His house was besieged by a horde of American barbarians, tanks and weapons...They stormed in the middle of the night, made everyone lie on the floor, face down, including his elderly parents, kicked and beat the whole family with their boots, resting them on their heads and necks...

Then they proceeded to storm each room using axes to break down the doors when the doors were not locked to start with. Then they opened the wardrobes, and said they were looking for weapons of mass destruction. They set all the wardrobes on fire.

They moved Ahmad's family to the vicinity of his home and made Ahmad and his family watch as your brave boys blew the house up.

They arrested Ahmad and a few others, blindfolded them and took them to an American camp in Baghdad. During the ride to the detention camp, around 20 soldiers were kicking and butting with their rifles edges, Ahmad and the other detainees.

Once arrived, they placed them in a corner of a dirty cell and started pissing on their wounded bodies while hysterically laughing. Not contenting themselves with that alone, they (the Americans) brought in a basin used to collect shit from their mobile toilets and emptied it on Ahmad and the other detainees heads.

Ahmad and his mates spent several months at this American detention camp. The first few days their interrogation consisted of identifying posters on a wall. The picture was that of Saddam Hussein. Of course Ahmad was able to identify Saddam Hussein's picture. When he and the others answered affirmatively, they were violently beaten up by the Americans because for these Americans luminaries, that was proof that they (the detainees) knew Saddam personally.

After several days the interrogation took another turn. Ahmad believes it was not even a process of getting any information which he did not have. But, according to him, the interrogations were just a form of humiliation to the prisoners and a way for the soldiers to "HAVE FUN." - American fun.

Ahmad recalls that one of the American officers used to sit on his chair with a bottle of whisky next to him and start questions like: " Where do you buy your vegetables from ?" " What is the name of your barber?" Other humiliating questions were - "How many times do you have intercourse with your wife ?" "What positions do you take ?... At times, a male and female soldier would undress and mimic such acts in front of the other soldiers all the while "teasing" the detainees...

Ahmad and other prisoners were then transferred to another camp in the South. Which meant that officially there were under British custody. But the personnel inside the camp included US, Australian as well as British soldiers.

When they arrived at this other camp, the British received Ahmad and the others with the same sort of treatment -- kicking and striking with their riffles butts, just like their fellow Americans did before. Ahmad's head was injured during his first arrest and the wound in his head reopened and started bleeding.

The soldiers tried to stitch it in the prison cell but failed, since they are not trained to do so. So they were forced to transfer him to a military hospital. X rays showed that his skull was fractured and had been fractured for several days by now, from the physical blows. They had to operate on him and he was moved back to the prison camp.

Ahmad recalls that all sorts of humiliation and torture were still being inflicted on the prisoners of this camp. He said that when they wanted to take any one to the interrogation session, they'd strip him from all his clothes and put a hood on his head and make him walk naked the whole distance, around 3 km, in front of the other prisoners while the accompanying soldiers would be using their vehicles.

The interrogation still consisted of questions like - "where do you buy your vegetables from and where do you get a haircut?" All the while, with insults and all kinds of beatings being showered on the detainee.

These interrogation sessions were done in the presence of the highest ranking prison officers. Ahmad is completely convinced that these interrogations and torture sessions were done for the sake of "FUN FOR THE SOLDIERS" and not for extracting and gathering security information as the Americans like to pretend.

A whole year elapsed and Ahmad was allowed to receive one visit from some members of his family. His family had spent days and weeks in front of the prisons, begging to see him...

Food in the prison was in itself an insult and a form of torture.

The soldiers would collect the prisoners in one large open space at 8 am for "breakfast". They would make them sit in the heat of the sun till 11 am.
They were forced to take on a "stress position", i.e to sit in a position straining their joints with their hands crossed over their heads so they can have their "breakfast"!

In case any prisoner moved his hand to rest his body a little, the guards would directly shoot him with a rubber bullet right on the face. Some prisoners lost one of their eyes in such incidents. Other developed severe pain and blue faces for months. Those who were unable to stay in the stress position were the elderly, some older than 70 years of age.

That same procedure was repeated between 1 pm and 5 pm - during the "lunch" period The food consisted of a bag of beans with sugar for "breakfast" and a very hot peppered rice for "lunch."

After a year or so, Ahmad and others were transferred to Abu Ghraib prison.

Ahmad recalls that what was unique to this prison were not the notorious sexual insults and torture - something he was quite familiar with and used to by now, but the presence of woman prisoners among them (the men) and the torture these brave women were subjected to in front of them.

One such technique was to tie the woman's legs with two different ropes and pull the naked body in opposite directions. Some died from the pain of this method and others were either split in half or had their hips totally disconnected from their joints.

Another "sport" for the American brave boys, so they can have fun, was to tie
a male prisoner with the noose of a rope to his neck and the other end of the rope was tied to the waist of one soldier. The soldier would run from one end of the cell to the other dragging the suffocating prisoner on the ground and other soldiers -- spectators would time the race.
Then, other soldiers were to do the same thing but in a shorter period. In other words, a race competition/a contest. The prisoner would usually end up with a dark blue face from strangulation and his whole body bruised from being dragged in a "fun" race.

Ahmad was finally released with no charges. He moved to Syria, having lost his home in Baghdad and nowhere to go. About a year after his arrival here, Ahmad started feeling numbness and weakness in one side of his body, something which made speech and swallowing excessively difficult. At first he thought he had a stroke, but when he consulted a specialist, he was told that he had some dead brain cells due to some traumatic accident.

Today, Ahmad drags his legs and is unable to use his arm and hand. Ahmad does not only carry the physical trauma which is there for all to see but the psychological trauma from which he will never heal.

While in Syria, Ahmad met another friend who was an inmate in some Basra camp. This other friend told him that the Americans used to drop hot pepper liquid in the eyes of the prisoners as a form of torture. His friend added that the brave boys did that to him more often than not and today Ahmad's friend is totally BLIND.

Ahmad also met the daughter of a judge, she can't walk anymore, her hips "went loose" after being tortured in Abu Ghraib.

There are more stories, real stories to tell...Stories of "Liberation." Stories weaved by a "civilized" West, the West of " Human Rights and Democracy."

Some bad faithed, dirty, corrupt, hypocrites will argue that this is the work of "a few bad apples."

American and British "ideals" - Yes more like it.

The Western ideals of "Freedom."

P.S: A special thank you to A. for sharing it with me.

Painting : Iraqi artist, Haidar Al-Karagholi, 2007.