Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Report #14 on the Era of Peace

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Nine Iraqi policemen killed in rebel attacks

From TurkishPress.com

November 15, 2005

Nine Iraqi policemen were killed in a spate of insurgent attacks as the international Red Cross launched an appeal to help hundreds of thousands of Iraqis affected by instability in their country.

Meanwhile, two former Iraqi detainees alleged that US soldiers threatened to throw them in a cage with a lion during interrogation, adding that they were also given electric shocks and shot with rubber bullets.

Nine policemen died and nine were wounded in a series of attacks in Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk, security officials said.

Three died and three were hurt when a roadside bomb exploded in the northern oil-producing city of Kirkuk, while four more were killed when their patrol car was ambushed by gunmen just east of the town.

In eastern Baghdad, two policemen died and six were wounded when a car bomb exploded near a restaurant popular with security forces, an interior ministry official said. A civilian passerby was also hurt.

In other violence, a professor of Arabic literature, Jassem al-Fhidawi, was shot dead outside Baghdad's Mustansiriyah university, a day after another professor and his driver were also killed there, a defence ministry official said.

And six civilians were wounded by a roadside bomb in the capital's eastern district of Zayunah.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an appeal for money to help 60,000 Iraqi families -- or around 350,000 people -- many of whom are living in poverty, facing food shortages and displaced by conflict.

"A positive response to this emergency appeal will enable us to continue providing badly needed humanitarian assistance during the winter period to the most vulnerable groups like single parent families, the handicapped, unaccompanied children," Mazin Salloum, head of the Iraqi Red Crescent, said in a statement.

The UN mission said in a report on human rights that more than 10,000 families have been displaced by ongoing military operations in the western Al-Anbar and northern Nineveh provinces.

According to World Health Organisation reports, doctors were also detained and medical facilities occupied by armed forces in those provinces last month, in contravention with international law.

Meanwhile, a US television network broadcast an interview with two former Iraqi detainees, Thahee Sabbar and Sherzad Khalid, who said they were tortured by US soldiers in July 2003.

Khalid alleged that US soldiers took him to a cage with a lion and threatened to throw him and others to the lion if they did not "confess.", ABC reported.

US soldiers asked them for information about former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, who was then still on the run.

"I said to him, 'How would I know where Saddam is?' And I thought that he was kidding me. And that's why I laughed. And he beat me again," Khalid said.

At one point, Sabbar alleged he and other detainees were subjected to a mock execution.

"They directed their weapons towards us," Sabbar said. "And they shot, shot towards our heads and chests. And when the shots sounded, some of us lost consciousness. Some started to cry. Some lost control of their bladders. And they were laughing the whole time."

The Iraqis said they were released several months later with no charges filed.

The report was the latest allegation of torture and abuse against the US government following the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq and criticism at home and abroad over the White House's policy on detention.

President George W. Bush has insisted the United States does not employ torture but his administration has lobbied against a proposal by US Senator John McCain that would explicitly ban torture and cruel, inhumane treatment of detainees.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First have filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight ex-prisoners, including Sabbar and Khalid, in March 2005, holding US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responsible for their mistreatment which they say violated US and international law.

The US government has confirmed that the two men were detained but has not commented directly on their allegations, ABC reported.

In a statement issued when the lawsuit was filed, the Pentagon stated: "We vigorously dispute any assertion or implication that the Department of Defence approved of, sanctioned, or condoned as a matter of policy detainee abuse."


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