The United States launched a military attack on Iraq and Afghanistan under the slogan of "countering terrorism." However, since the arrival of American troops in Iraq, not only has terrorism not stopped, but problems in terms of human rights and security have arisen for Iraq. One of these cases is the Abu Ghraib prison.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The United States launched a military attack on Iraq and Afghanistan under the slogan of "countering terrorism." However, since the arrival of American troops in Iraq, not only has terrorism not stopped, but problems in terms of human rights and security have arisen for Iraq. One of these cases is the Abu Ghraib prison. The following article, published in Khamenei website, examines the issue of human rights in the case of the Abu Ghraib prison.
When the images of all kinds of torture, perpetrated by American forces, were published for the first time, public opinion in the world seriously condemned those human rights violations: images of naked female and male prisoners hanging from the roof who had been forced by to rape one another for the American soldiers’ pleasure. These are unbelievable images that exist in abundance on the Internet which cannot be watched longer than a few seconds because they are so horrible and indecent.
Located 32 kilometers away from western Baghdad, the Abu Ghraib prison has been and will be one of the most infamous prisons in the world. It achieved international infamy because of tortures, in particular against Shia prisoners, perpetrated by Saddam Hussein and his Ba’athist regime. After the US’s military invasion on Iraq in 2004, the prison was seized by American forces and it turned into a place for torturing and abusing Iraqi prisoners. First, the Americans repaired and renovated the prison and after that, they created a scenario by portraying clean cells for prisoners in an attempt to showcase their attention to prisoners’ rights. However, afterwards, they created human disasters in that prison which are clear manifestations of human rights violations and a symbol of American savagery.
When Seymour Hersh, an experienced and well-known American journalist released a confidential video about the Americans’ human rights violations in Abu Ghraib Prison[i], the US Department of Defense worked hard to play down the images portrayed in the said video. However, it did not take long for the independent society of journalists in the US to confirm the authenticity of the images portrayed and they lifted the veil that had been drawn over the crimes committed by American transgressors against Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib Prison.
In his speech delivered to the people present in the civil rights syndicate on the occasion of the annual torture report presented to the US Senate, Hersh stated that the Americans had done their best to prevent the film from being released. However, it was impossible and the global community would know about it sooner or later. According to Hersh, at Abu Ghraib the female prisoners did write letters to their families and their husbands, but they would ask for something unexpected in those letters. They would beg their husbands to go and kill them[ii] for what had happened to them. In the Abu Ghraib Prison, women were forced to witness their sons being raped by American soldiers and most deplorably, they would be raped by their sons as forced by American torturers[iii].
Those crimes were committed while many of the women held captive in Abu Ghraib Prison had not committed any crime. A large number of them were detained there as a bait to force their husbands, brothers and fathers to confess. Once, Lynndie England – whose photo was published in the media showing her dragging an Iraqi prisoner on the ground with a piece of rope – said to Colorado TV that they had been ordered in Abu Ghraib to create a hellish situation for prisoners by means of torture so that they would confess[iv].
There is no doubt that savage tortures perpetrated by the Americans in Abu Ghraib Prison are a symbol of American Human rights and that they are at odds with international conventions and therefore, they are punishable as war crimes. On the basis of the Geneva third convention, every injury, wound, physical punishment and psychological torture against captives with the purpose of gaining information is forbidden. Also according to the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions, torture, inhumane behavior, the infliction of intentional and severe pain and doing injury to prisoners’ sexual organs are considered as serious violations of the aforementioned conventions and thus, the perpetrators will be subject to trial and to punishment.
According to Human Rights Watch, many of the prisoners were held in Abu Ghraib prison without any judicial ruling or trial. In its report delivered in 2008, HRW stated that the American occupiers held around 25,000 Iraqis without explaining their crimes, without a ruling and without a trial.
On the basis of international laws, national judiciary reference points such as the Iraqi judiciary branch and also international judiciary centers such as the International Court of Justice situated in the Hague had the authority to take action and to investigate all the culprits and accused on this matter. Despite the fact that because of US’s influence, attendance to such cases always faces certain obstacles, attendance to them in third party countries and courts, on the basis of the international authority principle, is always possible. The important point is that crimes as deplorable as this one should never be erased from the historical memory of nations and one of the ways to prevent this from happening is to pursue the matter through the legal framework and to ultimately punish the culprits in legal ways.
[ii] 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened'