TORTURE IN IRAQ

Dear friends,

You are curious about my reaction to the pictures of Iraqi civilians that are shown on television screens all over the world. Those pictures reminded me of the pictures when American armed forces attacked Iraq and American planes bombed Baghdad and the whole world saw the center of a great civilization burn in flames. Those flames had stirred me up to such an extent that I had written the following poem,

LIBERATING IRAQ*

Every child whose limbs got amputated

Every woman whose husband is soaked in blood

Every father whose children lie buried in the ruins

Every grandmother who will never see her grandchildren grow up

Every school that is destroyed

Every hospital that is looted

Every doctor who is deprived of medications because of sanctions                       

They could not imagine in their wildest imagination that American soldiers who were claiming to be the liberators had become abusers and rapists 

Every palace that is hit by cluster bombs

Every statue that is toppled over

Every oil well that is in flames

Every city that is covered with a cloud of smoke

Every villager who is dying of thirst

Every animal that is starving

And

Every bird that is inhaling toxins

Is asking the whole world

Is this the liberation they promised us?

Is this the blood-drenched freedom that our future generations will remember?

After all, who used the weapons of mass destruction?

Dated April 12th, 2003                                                       

*Dedicated to Robert Fisk, an independent journalist   (Ref 1)

American planes not only bombed royal palaces but also destroyed those museums that contained historical documents and treasures of culture and civilization of hundreds of years. Within weeks those precious treasures were sold in Western black markets.

The abuse of power and violation of human rights that started in April 2003, reached its surrealistic climax in May 2004, when innocent Iraqi prisoners of Al-Gharaib prison, who were abused, raped and tortured by American soldiers, were shown on national televisions all over the world. TIME magazine of May 17th, 2004 had a naked Iraqi prisoner of the front page whose hands were tied on his back while his face was covered with a brown bag. (Ref 2)

They do not realize that each one of them is carrying scars of humiliation and abuse that can easily ignite flames of revenge and violence against American army and Government. American citizens still wonder why the whole world hates them with passion.

After those pictures appeared in the news media, for the first time there was a public outcry in America against George Bush as conscientious men and women were shocked to see such abuse of power. They could not imagine in their wildest imagination that American soldiers who were claiming to be the liberators had become abusers and rapists. Tragically the torture of Iraqi civilians took place in the same prison where Saddam Hussain used to torture his enemies.

When American Senators and public demanded resignation of Donald Rumsfield as Secretary of Defence, George Bush, the Commander in Chief, went to national television to discuss the crisis. Rather than reprimanding Rumsfield, he congratulated him on his wonderful performance in Iraq. Rumsfield felt so encouraged that he flew to Baghdad to extend his congratulation to his American soldiers for their brave and courageous performance. The whole world saw Rumsfield laughing and joking with his soldiers. People did not know whether to laugh or cry.

Bush and Rumsfield claim that the whole episode was due to irresponsible wrongdoings of a few army officers who did not reflect American values and traditions. Whether Bush and Rumsfield really believe in the bottom of their hearts what they are public saying, there is no doubt that more and more American Senators, members of media and public are not convinced by their explanation. They are wondering that it might not be a few bad apples in the barrel, it might be the whole barrel that is full of vinegar and with each passing day more and more apples are getting bad and law-abiding soldiers are exposed to such abusive and violent environment that it is bringing out the worst in them.

I sometimes wonder whether Bush unconsciously identifies with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussain as he has been acquiring the religious fanaticism of Osama and sadism of Saddam. It is not uncommon for human beings to adopt the characteristics of their enemies. That is why wise people say that we need to choose our enemies more carefully than our friends as we might walk on their footsteps and start acting like them.

Human Rights organizations all over the world are extremely concerned about the escalating human rights violations by American Government in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Iraq. The Red Cross and Amnesty International reports highlight that Iraqis who were abused, raped and tortured in Abu Ghraib prison were innocent civilians who were randomly picked up by American forces and kept in captivity for months with no trial. There is no evidence that they were criminals or terrorists. In the end American authorities felt so embarrassed that they set them free. They do not realize that each one of them is carrying scars of humiliation and abuse that can easily ignite flames of revenge and violence against American army and Government. American citizens still wonder why the whole world hates them with passion.

I am waiting for the day when American Senators, American public, Human Rights organizations all over the world and United Nations would demand that George Bush be tried in the same court as Saddam Hussain, as both have committed their crimes against humanity in the same prison. The world needs to see how the ‘liberators’ turned into torturers. Saddam Hussain’s crimes were full of brutal violence while Bush’s crimes had an added torture, they were also full of sexual abuses. If Saddam Hussain as a head of the state can be tried for his fidaeen, George Bush as the Commander in Chief can be tried for the abuses of his soldiers. The world did not know that his prediction of ‘shock and awe’ also included sexual sadism.

Dear friends,

Let us hope that American public acknowledges the abuses of their Government and makes wise choices in the next elections. Let us hope that the torture of Iraqi civilians ends so that innocent men and women are no longer abused and raped and humiliated. We are all aware that such abuses take a long time to heal.

Sincerely,      Sohail

Dated: May 18th, 2004