Monday, September 13, 2010

Inside Iraq's torture dungeons

British national Ramze Shihab Ahmed went to Iraq to help his jailed son, but was arrested and tortured himself.

In Depth Al-Jazeera Feature
By Andrew Wander

"On a dull December day in 2009, Rabiha al Qassab, a 63-year-old Iraqi refugee living in a quiet residential area of north London, received a telephone call that marked the beginning of a new nightmare for a family already torn apart by Iraq's political upheavals.

Her 68-year-old husband, Ramze Shihab Ahmed, had been arrested while on a visit to Iraq, and no-one knew where he was being held or what, if anything, he had been charged with.

Nine months later, Ramze is still languishing in legal limbo in a Baghdad prison. His story lays bare the horrific abuses and lack of legal process that characterise post-Saddam Iraq's detention system....

Torture and abuse

Rabiha called the embassy, and by April, a consular official had been allowed to meet with Ramze. Rabiha's initial relief at having found her husband quickly turned to horror as she learned he had been subjected to brutal torture to make him confess to involvement in terrorism.

"They beat him. They put a plastic bag on his head until he lost consciousness, and then they woke him with electric shocks. They told him that if he didn't confess, they would make his son rape him. They put a wooden stick into his anus," she says. "They have abused him in every way."

After days of torture, Ramze signed a confession admitting to being a member of al- Qaeda in Iraq, a claim Rabiha says is absurd. "He would see the bombings on television and say 'what sort of Islam is this?'" she says. "He was very sorry for all the people who died."

Human rights experts say that Ramze's story is far from unique. In a new report on mistreatment in the Iraqi prison system, entitled New Order, Same Abuses, Amnesty International estimates that around 30,000 people are currently being held without charge or trial in Iraq. Many are being tortured with impunity, the group says....."

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