Shocking Revelation: Reports US Tortures Jailed Iraqi Children
An International Call to Monitor US Vote
July 18, 2004
German TV's Shocking Revelation:
|For this Iraqi youngster, confronting the US was just a game. For more than a hundred other Iraqi children held in US detention, the reality includes torture, humiliation and uncertainty.|
US Torture of Jailed Iraqi Children
Thomas Reutter / "Report Mainz" [English translation]
(July 5, 2004) -- Moderation Fritz Frey:
REPORT has come across a totally unbelievable suspicion.
In Abu Gharib and elsewhere, children and youth
have been incarcerated and mistreated.
Thomas Reutter reports.
With tanks coming through the gate, US soldiers storm an apartment building looking for terrorists. Sometimes during such roundups the soldiers also arrest children. What happens to the children? About that the military gives no information. We investigate, as it happens, through informants.
One of them, who is knowledgeable about these things, is Sergeant Samuel Provance from US Army Intelligence. For half a year, he was stationed in the notorious Abu Ghraib torture-prison. Today, five months later, we meet with Sergeant Provance in Heidelberg.
His superiors have strictly forbidden him from reporting to journalists about what he experienced in Abu Ghraib. Yet Provance wants to talk about it nonetheless. Pangs of conscience plague him. He tells us about one 16-year-old, whom he himself had to lead away.
Samuel Provance, US-Sergeant:
He was full of fear, very alone. He had the thinnest little arms that I have ever seen. His whole body shook. His wrists were so thin that we could not put handcuffs on him. As soon as I saw him for the first time and led him to the interrogation, I felt sorry for him. The interrogation specialists doused him with water and put him in a truck.
Then they drove with him throughout the night, and at that time it was very, very cold. Then they smeared him with mud and showed him to his likewise imprisoned father. With him [the father] they had tried out other interrogation methods. But they had not succeeded in making him talk. The interrogation specialists told me that after the father had seen his son in that condition, it broke his heart. He wept and promised to tell them what they wanted to know.
The son however remained in custody, and the 16-year-old was put in with the adults. Yet Provance reported also about a special department, expressly for children. A secret children's wing in the horror prison of Abu Ghraib.
One person, who has seen the children's wing with his own eyes, is the journalist Suhaib Badr-Addin Al-Baz. Our correspondent met him some week ago in Baghdad. The Iraqi TV reporter related how he himself was arrested arbitrarily by the Americans while shooting film and spent 74 days in Abu Ghraib.
Suhaib Badr-Addin Al-Baz, Fernsehreporter (Reporter):
"There I saw a camp for children. Young, under the age of puberty. In this camp were certainly hundreds of children. Some of them have been released, others are definitely still in there."
From his solitary cell in the adults' wing, Suhaib heard a perhaps 12-year-old girl weeping. Later he learned that her brother was on the third floor of the prison. One or two times, says Suhaib, he saw her himself.
In the night, according to Suhaib, they were with her in her cell. The girl shrieked out to the other prisoners and called out to her brother.
Suhaib Badr-Addin Al-Baz:
"She was beaten. I heard her call: 'They have undressed me. They have poured water over me." Daily, says Suhaib, one heard her crying and wimpering. Many of the prisoners wept when they heard her.
Suhaib reported also about a sick 15-year-old youth. [They chased him up and down the corridor with heavy water cannisters. translation uncertain] For so long until he collapsed from exhaustion, says Suhaib. Then they brought in his father, also a prisoner. He had a hood over his head. From shock the youth collapsed once again.
In the so-called "War on Terrorism," the Americans storm Iraqi houses. According to Suhaib, they sometimes in the process seize whole families who appear suspicious to them. Statements from individual witnesses, difficult to confirm.
From an unpublished UNICEF report:
"Children, who had been seized in Basra and Kerbala, were routinely put over into an internment facility in Um Qasr.
[Internment camp Um Qasr. Footage/photos from 2003.] Today it is too dangerous for reporters to travel to Um Qasr. The camp, a prison for terrorists and criminals. Precisely here should Americans therefore hold children interned as prisoners of war.
"The classification of these children as "internees" is alarming, since it contains them for an indefinite time in prison, without contact with their families or expectation of legal proceedings or trial."
Over this up-to-now unpublished report UNICEF does not yet want to say anything. [Their reason is that] Their own workers in Iraq should not be put in danger. Seeking more information, we turned to the International Committee of the Red Cross, whose helpers inspected Um Qasr, Abu Ghraib and other places of detention. And ,after intensive conversations, came a further confirmation and even statistics.
Florian Westphal, Internationales Komitee vom Roten Kreuz (International Committee of the Red Cross):
"We have recorded a total of 107 children between January and May of this year in the course of 19 visits to 6 different detention places. And it must be emphasized that these are detention places that are controlled by coalition troops."
In the internment camp Um Qasr, and also in Abu Ghraib, the Red Cross recorded minors as prisoners. Two international organizations confirmed to us independently of each other that the occupation troops are holding Iraqi children prisoner. Yet we have not received any information directly from the prisons. Even UNICEF was not allowed to visit the child prison in Baghdad.
"In July 2003, UNICEF applied for a visit to this detention facility, but access was refused." Since December, according to UNICEF, there have been no independent observers in the children's prison. To be sure, the US Army opened the scandal-prison Abu Ghraib for a tour for journalists. Yet the reporters were presented with a for-show facility. Child prisoners were not shown to the press.
We hold fast to this: Four sources confirm independently of one another, that occupation troops are holding children as prisoners. Two witnesses even report instances of maltreatment. The human rights organization Amnesty International is outraged over the reports of Iraqi child prisoners. Barbara Lochbihler of Amnesty International, Germany, calls for follow-up action.
Barbara Lochbihler, Generalsekretrin Amnesty International:
"The US government has to respond to this report, it must give concrete information about how old the children are, the grounds on which they have been detained, and under what circumstances they were incarcerated. And here we do not know the names of the children or how many children are there. That is scandalous."
Concluding moderation by Fritz Frey:
Self-evidently, we have confronted the responsible authorities with our research. The British Defense Ministry responded: Children and youth are not being held prisoner by British troops. We are still waiting for an answer from the American Pentagon.
News video of the REPORT broadcast
Amnesty International / Germany
International Red Cross
Berichte der Menschenrechtsorganisation zu Irak
(Report of the Human Rights Organization Amnesty International in Iraq)
Internationales Komitee vom Roten Kreuz
(International Committee of the Red Cross)
Das Kinderhilfswerk der Vereinten Nationen UNICEF
(Children's Relief Organization of the United Nations UNICEF)
Exclusive translation for Traprock Peace Center by Richard Gawthrop. Thanks to Paul Amrod, who saw this on German TV and brought it to our attention.
Traprock Peace Center www.traprockpeace.org
An International Call to Watch US Vote
|The White House will not invite the UN to send monitors to safeguard November's presidential elections, so it's up to groups like Global Exchange to oversee the election process. CREDIT: CBC News|
Monitoring Plan for a Threatened Democracy
By Tim Kingston / Global Exchange
Voter purging, touch screen voting that doesnt work, political party shenanigans, a disillusioned voting public suffering under a messianic leadership with a corrupt political class. Ah ha! you might think, a textbook case of a county in need of Jimmy Carter and his merry band of international election monitors. Unfortunately, the country in question is not some developing nation with a shaky political structure, but the United States. You probably already guessed that, didnt you?
The good news is that Global Exchange, the high visibility San Francisco based international human rights activist organization is taking preemptive steps to protect US democracy by inviting at least 28 experience election monitors from all around the world to scrutinize this years presidential elections.
Our experience monitoring elections in ten countries around the world has shown that the presence of non-governmental observers can help boost public confidence in the electoral process, explained Ted Lewis, director of Global Exchanges Fair Elections initiative in a July 8 statement unveiling the project.
Congressmembers Ask UN to Monitor US Election
The very day Global Exchange unveiled its initiative 13 congress members, among them Oaklands own Barbara Lee, called for UN monitoring of the 2004 U.S. election. Lee who served as an election monitor in both the South Africa and Nigerian presidential elections asked a July 8 press conference in Washington DC. If we attempt to ensure free and fair elections for other countries, why wouldn't we do the same for our own elections? Why wouldn't we want to encourage transparency in our own elections process?
She added, As we have been recently reminded by Fahrenheit 9/11, there are very good reasons why we need election monitors.
Global Exchanges first of its kind project is being rolled out in three stages. The initial publicity and recruitment effort began on July 8 with opinion articles declaring American democracy needs help appeared in Dublins Irish Independent, Tokyos Asashi Shimbun and Mexico Citys La Jornada. The campaign has been covered by South Africas Rand Mail & Guardian one of South Africas best know papers and will be featured on Voice of America.
For Global Exchange such international coverage is critical, both to attract more international monitors than the initial 28 already committed, and to inform the rest of the world that there is a vibrant political democracy movement in the United States Fox News to the contrary.
How It Would Work
The second and third stages of the campaign involve the actual monitoring. A 20-person team of monitors will be visit California, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio and Washington DC in mid-September. That team will release a report with recommendations for strengthening electoral democracy in Mid-October, after it has met with local officials, democracy advocates, evaluated registration rates, registry purging and examined the disenfranchisement of felons.
A second team of eight observers will return in the week prior to the November election to do on-the-spot monitoring. The advantage of organizing the initiative before the election is that problems can be caught preemptively.
Reaction to the Fair Election initiative has been rather positive both among individual American voters and the foreign press. Individual voters tend to respond with hoots, hollers and comments of about time, while the somewhat more jaded reporters have been both amused and heard to say; Isnt that what happens in banana republics? Is this what we have come to? Apparently yes.
Individuals with relevant experience who are interested in becoming election monitors can volunteer at www.fairelection.us.
For more information contact: