Sophia's Peace Work

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Fight against Terrorism becomes an excuse for everything ...

The following is a excerpt from a Christian Peacemaker Team update ... despite the fact that they still have four team members who remain kidnapped, CPT is still trying to continue its work in Iraq. This includes documenting what is happening to detainees in both U.S. and Iraqi detention camps and helping family members find information on their loved ones. The "[ ]" are my corrections or comments.

Monday – January 16, 2006

David, Pyles, and Gish [the CPT Team members] accompanied an Iraqi human rights worker, an Iraqi filmmaker, a lawyer and an elderly Iraqi man to the Kadhamiya Iraqi army base. The elderly man was looking for members of his family, including his wife, young daughter-in-law, and four sons who were all arrested in a raid at their home.

U.S. and Iraqi forces carried out the raid based on a tip that the men had kidnapped the Minister of Interior's sister. The women were supposed to be held briefly for questioning, but were detained for five days. After talking with a number of people at the base, the group was told to come back the next day to speak with officials.

Tuesday – January 17, 2006

David, Pyles, and Gish returned with the Iraqi group from the previous day to the Iraqi military base in Kadhamiya where they met with Major General Meh'di. After the General gave a discourse about the Iraqi army's need to fight terrorism, David spoke to him of the many problems the US had caused in Iraq, especially the abuse of

Then [the General] brought in the two women and said they had been detained because they had information about violent acts, but refused to give it. He then brought in two of the sons and accused them of killing many people as part of the resistance, and of their involvement in kidnapping the sister of the Minister of Interior.

One was accused of killing his own sister [I assume here they mean the officer's sister?] for political reasons. The team saw signs of physical mistreatment of the oldest son who had difficulty walking. He said quietly to the team that his feet were swollen because of beating, and that he was beaten all over. The team saw scars and marks on his hands and wrists and forehead but he said out loud to the people in the room that he had just scratched himself.

When Pyles took off his hood to look at his head, the General got angry and said that it was illegal to examine a prisoner without permission. He also asked his interpreter to look at the notes Gish was taking, but the interpreter seemed not to hear him and didn't do it. The General refused to let the team talk with him or the women alone and later changed the reason for detaining the women, saying it was to protect them from the family who might harm them. He promised to release them in two days.

Apparently all you have to do is make a speech about how you are fighting terrorism ... couple that with a few accusations against someone for participating in criminal acts ... and you can do whatever you like to your prisoners. Who needs this pesky notion of "providing proof" or "innocent until proven guilty?" Those ideas are easy to forget ....

And the idea that we shouldn't commit criminal acts against criminals because we don't want to become the very thing we stand against. Well, our Major General probably doesn't even trouble himself with such notions.


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