Friday, September 9, 2011

It's not the brutality that is 'systematic'. It's the lying about it

By Robert Fisk

"It was Baha Mousa's dad I will always remember. On an oppressively scorching day in Basra, Daoud Mousa first spoke of his son's death, telling me how the boy's wife had died of cancer just six months earlier, how Baha's children were now orphans, how – not long after the British Army had arrested Baha Mousa and beaten him to death, for that is what happened – a British officer had come to his home and stared at the floor and offered cash by way of saying sorry.
"What do you think I should do?" Daoud asked me. Get a lawyer, I said. Tell Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. Let me write about it. When I called at the British base at Basra airport, one officer laughed at me. "Call the Ministry of Defence," he said dismissively. He didn't care.....

It wasn't the brutality that was "systematic". It was the lying that was systematic. In Northern Ireland, among the Americans after Abu Ghraib and Bagram and the black prisons and the renditions. Baha Mousa received 93 wounds. There was an inquiry, I was imperiously told. It was all sub judice....

Baha Mousa's nose was broken. There was blood above the corpse's mouth. The skin had been ripped off his wrists. According to his friend, Baha had been crying and pleading for his life from beneath his hood. "They gave us the names of footballers and cursed us with them as they attacked us," he said.

The Brits did the same in Northern Ireland, I remember. Catholics would often tell me they were given the names of footballers before the beatings began.

A bit systematic, perhaps? "They were kick-boxing us in the chest and between the legs and in the back..." Baha's friend said. "He kept asking them to take the bag off and said he was suffocating. But they laughed at him and kicked him more."....."

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