Saturday, November 15, 2008

Torture and Murder by Saddam's Regime

For 24 years, between 1980 and 2003, Saddam's regime tortured, raped, and murdered Iraqis. Most of the world did not know of his crimes. It amazes me that some people (especially Shia) would have expected Iraqis to put up with Saddam's regime even longer.

'Against all the odds "A", a 59-year-old medical doctor in Baghdad, bribed a prison officer and fled the country. She told her story to Amnesty International just three weeks ago. Her crime? She was arrested in June 1999 on suspicion that she had contacts with an Iraqi opposition group. She denies the accusation.

"Those suspected of any involvement in opposition activities can expect to be arrested without a warrant; held in secret detention, without access to family and lawyers; be brutally tortured -- including in one case known to Amnesty International, having their eyes gouged out --and finally, could face execution," the human rights organization revealed in a new report today.

In its report, Amnesty International is shining a spotlight on these grave human rights violations in Iraq, that are taking place systematically and with total impunity. These violations range from arbitrary arrest and detention, to torture, extrajudicial and judicial executions after unfair trials, "disappearances" and forcible expulsions on the basis of ethnic origin.

The majority of the victims of Iraq's relentless repression are Shi'a Muslims in Southern Iraq and in some districts of Baghdad, as well as Kurds in the north. Summary executions are being carried out on a regular basis. The Iraqi Government rarely announces executions or makes public any official statistics in relation to the death penalty. In many cases it is impossible to determine whether the reported executions are judicial or extrajudicial given the secrecy surrounding them.

On 11 July 1999 Ibrahim Amin al-'Azzawi, a 70-year-old lawyer, was executed. His family, who have now fled the country, believed it was because his son-in-law, Riyadh Baqer al-Hilli, a Shi'a Muslim, was suspected of involvement in underground anti-government activities. No information on any charge, trial or sentencing was ever available. No information is available to Amnesty International either as to the fate of Riyadh, who was also arrested and taken away.'

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