Eman Ahmed Khammas är journalist och människorättsförkämpe. Hon har under en period förestått Occupation Watch Center i Bagdad.
Med stort mod försöker Eman ta sig till fängelser, flyktingläger och intervjuar människor om deras sitiation. Hon har också varit i Falluja.
I höstas deltog hon vid Iraktribunalen i Stockholm.
Detainees in the Captive Country-I
Testimonies of Iraqi Prisoners In the American Prisons
Bassim Suggested Finger Prints
On July 16, 2003, at 10.30 am, Bassim Dawood Darob, left his house in Tadgi, near an American military base north of Baghdad, to go to work in the village market, when he saw an American convoy. He was not afraid or even worried. He kept on walking until he reached them, they asked him to lift his shirt, turn around, and put his hands up. He did. They searched his body even his foot fingers. Then they told him to sit down. Three cars passed by, they searched and let them go. Then they cuffed his hands and put him in their vehicle. When he asked why, a soldier told him to ask the officer. The officer said "you were trying to hit the military base towers".
"But I am unarmed?" Bassim said, the officer did not reply.
Bassim spent the next 19 months in many American prisons in Iraq. He talks about the absurdities, the bad treatment, and the humiliation he saw in prison. He was released many times, but was never out of prison. He spent days, his eyes tied, hands cuffed, without even knowing why. A woman soldier called Tane or Tain who investigated him told him that he hit the American vehicle, when he asked her about the weapon she told him that they found it. Bassim was so confident of his innocence that he suggested a finger print examination. Unsurprisingly, the result was positive. Bassim sarcastically told Tane that "either the computer was lying or you". She went mad and started shouting, but Bassim was put in the release room all the same.
But for some unknown reason, he was sent to Tikrit military camp. His hands were bleeding of the tight cuffs; he was sleeping on big hot pebbles, no food, no water…etc. When he heard his name, he realized that at last he is going to be free.
He was sent to the airport prison, camp C, again water was a dream, for drinking and washing, and of course in July the temperature reaches 55 centigrade in the shade. "But the worst thing was the Iraqi guards who were so obscene and dirty, ex criminals", Bassim remembers. Then he was sent to Nassiriya, on his way to Basra, where he was put in Camp Bucca for 4 months.
"The food so bad that you feel sick just smelling it, not eating it.
It was hot inside the plastic tents, through which the burning desert sun was piercing. Out side the tent the sand storms were impossible. We had two meals a day, bathroom twice. But we were 600 having bath in half an hour. Four months later, they told me that I was going to be released. On that day, they said sorry and returned me back because there was no car, I said I can go to Baghdad on foot (500 kilometers), but that was useless.
There was no investigation, nothing in Bucca, just waiting, and taking collective punishments. But Abu Greib Prison was worse. Fox and Casey were the meanest.
Who are they?
A woman and a man soldier. For them we are simply criminals. The food was miserable, but we ate it. Once they brought chicken, I could not believe my eyes. But when I began to eat, I realized that there were worms in it, I ate it, none the less. The first and easiest punishment was cutting the food, water, and leaving the toilet without cleaning for two weeks. It was horrible. There was one tab for 600prisoners. Diarrhea was normal; there were queues on the doctor's door..
On Dec14, 2003, Bassim was told that he was going to be released again, he did not believe it. He was sent to Bucca again. He had his first visit from his family on April15, 2004, 10 months after his arrest. Bassim was not tortured, but he witnessed many prisoners who were. A woman soldier peed on a religious man's beard, and raped him. He remained silent afterwards, not talking to any prisoner. Searching was very humiliating. They ask the prisoners to take off all their clothes, then they ask the prisoners to prostrate (as in prayer) and they search inside their buttocks. The prisoners went on demonstration protesting this search, so they were allowed to keep the shorts but to pull it up very tightly so that the organs would show.
On July 2004, Bassim got another release, on bail this time. The problem was how to tell his family. He was given new clothes, and even asked to shave in order to go out, but he had to wait until December to finish all the papers.
Did you hear about any women prisoners?
"I saw them. One was very old. She was arrested because they wanted her son who was a military officer. She was crying all the time. We organized a demonstration for her, they promised to release her. But when we were taken to the airport prison, we saw her there. There were about 15 women in the airport. We saw them when they were taken to investigation. Their guards were men, but for men prisoners, the guards were women, I think this is deliberate. They know that we are from a conservative society; many women soldiers do the sexual abuses or humiliate men prisoners like putting their boots on the prisoners' heads".
What were you charged of?
"Of attacking a military convoy, but to charge somebody of committing something was not taken seriously. Many prisoners had no charges; anything could be put in the papers in the appeal. I have seen many of such cases"
How do you feel now, after spending 19 months in prison for nothing?
I do not know, I can not express my bitter feelings. Many things have changed. There are many new prisons, full of innocent people. They say that the number is 9-10 thousands in all the prisons. I can assure you that they are 90-100 thousands.
Are not you afraid?
No, I am innocent.
Huda Al-Azawi Was a Victim of Blackmail
Huda, 43, is in jail now for the third time, her story is well known, not only inside Iraq. It is a big tragedy of a whole family. Huda's brother Iyad was killed under torture in Adhamiya American military base in December 2003, his body was found in Baghdad morgue 3 months later among the unidentified. Her sister Nahla was arrested with her in December 2003 for eight months. Her Brother Ali is still in Bucca Camp for a year and a half now. Her nephew, Mohammad is arrested with her now, and is in Abo Greib. Her other brother, Mo'taz, was released after 15 months in Bucca. Their problem is that they are wealthy family. They refused to be blackmailed.
Huda is a business woman. She is a contractor. According to her daughter Farah, 23, a collaborator asked her to pay him $20.000, she refused, so he gave the American bad information about her, and she was arrested in December 2003. After 8 months of torture, too bad treatment, beating (when she was released her right arm was broken), in Abo Greib , the American general apologized to her, saying that he was sorry, that her file is clean, that investigations proved that she is innocent of the charge of funding the resistance, and that she was a victim of bad information.
"She was another woman when she was released last July" Farah says. This time her house was raided by the Iraqi National Guards and the American troops together on February 17, 2005 at 2.30 am. The house was hit by sound bombs, tear gas, the doors, windows and furniture were broken. All the personal and business documents, the computers, the money, the jewelry, and the car were all confiscated. The chairs were still covered with small pieces of glass when we visited her house. The younger daughter, Noor, 14, was slapped on her face many times by one of the INGs because she was crying when they tried to separate her from her sister, Farah. They used very bad words against them.
"But all this is not a problem", Farah insists "the problem is that my mother was ill when she was arrested in February, she just had an operation in her armpit, the stitches were not removed yet. They tied her arms to her back very tightly, she was crying, they tied her feet too, and hooded her. Her medicines were not taken with her.
"After she was arrested I looked for her every were, I had no clue where she was, until my cousin who was arrested in the same night was moved from the airport to Abo Greib, and we visited him, told us that she is kept in a solitary confinement in the airport"
When were in Huda's house interviewing Farah, the Red Cross called from Amman saying that her mother sent the first letter since she was arrested 2 months ago. There was a deep feeling of resignation in the letter. Huda says that this is her fate, she asks her daughters to take care of them selves and to be brave, to try to help her. She says that she is very tired and does not feel well, but she does not need clothes or food, that she is in the airport, given the same number as in the first arrest.
How was she arrested first in 2003?
-She went to the American base herself. After they came to our house many times, asking questions, she decided to go and meet the American commander himself. They arrested her there, never released until 8 months later, psychologically destroyed. We did not know about her until 6 months later.
Huda's lawyer told us not to talk about her torture in Abu Greib in front of Farah and Noor, because she did not tell her daughters anything of that. There were 14 women with her. Their hands and legs were tied, heads hooded, they were put in solitary tight rooms. They were ordered to do the cleaning. But the most sever experience for Huda in jail was when her brother Iyad's dead body was thrown on her. He was naked , covered with bruises.
Abu Hind never imagined that he was a suspect
Abu Hind , is a middle aged widower who was arrested twice for short periods, again not knowing why. But he never imagined that he was going to be arrested simply because he is paralyzed and moves on a wheel chair for 24 years now. He was injured in 1981 in the Iraqi-Iranian war. He lives with his two teenage daughters in a village north of Baghdad.
The first time he was arrested he was fasting, coming back from the market with his young daughter, he found his house raided and surrounded by hummers and tens of soldiers. They accused him of attacking a military convoy. He was released after three days because his health deteriorated; he also suffers from kidney problems and bed ulcer.
The second time was a month later. He was arrested in the green zone, this time he was beaten and tortured. They asked him about weapons they found near the river. They kicked him on his face and his mouth was torn and bleeding. They poured cold water on his naked body in winter. After six days of torture he collapsed. When they released him he was dying. They threw him in a car station.
But why do you think they came for you?
-I think because of my look, you know with the beard. They actually said so. They asked me about the terrorists. I told them that since I was injured in the war, it was difficult for me to keep neat. In fact they arrested many people with me, but they released me because I was dying. What I do not understand is why they raid the houses so violently, they did not need that. They were pointing their guns at me, and I am helpless, I can not even put on my clothes without help.
Andra delen av Eman Ahmed Khammas artikel finns under länken nedan.