Socialist Worker

Evidence of torture by British troops grows

Issue No. 1953

Toeing the line — a British soldier on patrol in Iraq

Toeing the line — a British soldier on patrol in Iraq

New Iraqi witness statements, seen by Socialist Worker, tell of torture meted out by British soldiers.

A report, released by Public Interest Lawyers, contains allegations of abuse of Iraqi civilians by both US and British soldiers.

Nine of the witnesses say that they were tortured in the British-run Camp Breadbasket. They appear to contradict claims by four British soldiers court martialled for their treatment of civilians at the camp. The soldiers claimed that they were punishing those who were stealing food from the camp.

But seven of the statements are from workers who were employed by the British to distribute food in the region. Another is from the brother of one of the camp workers, who went to the camp to try to secure the release of his brother.

The ninth statement is from a fisherman who worked near the camp, and who was picked up by British soldiers and taken to Camp Breadbasket.

Raa’id Attyar Ali one of the camp workers said in his witness statement, “I had been working at the depot known as Camp Breadbasket for some time. It is my job to go to the depot twice a month in order to collect food rations for distribution to a number of families.

“I have an identity card to show that I have lawful authority to be at the depot.”

Along with a driver and another Iraqi worker, Raa’id says he was surrounded by the British soldiers in the camp. When he showed the soldiers his identity card they separated him from the rest of the group and tied him to a concrete post.

“I tried to explain to a British soldier that I was authorised to be in the depot. His response was to kick me hard on my nose, which broke and started to bleed.” The statement says that he witnessed other Iraqi civilians stripped and beaten, with at least ten British soldiers involved in the attack.

Another of the witnesses, Riyadh Hasam Abdul Hussain, says he was beaten repeatedly with an iron bar. He recalls the British soldiers singing and laughing as they were beating the men.

His statement says, “During the regime of Saddam Hussein I spent many years, like others, hiding away as a deserter from the Iraqi army. I have undergone much deprivation during that time. However, I have never felt so humiliated and violated in my entire life.”

Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers said that the court martial of the four Camp Breadbasket soldiers was a farce. He was prevented from presenting new evidence to the court martial.

Phil Shiner said the Iraqi men’s evidence had been “swept under the carpet”.

“Here there is the clearest evidence that the military are incapable of prosecuting and investigating themselves,” he said. “Clearly here something has gone badly wrong. Officers were involved and a whole lot of people were abused.”

The report also gives evidence of torture and mass murder carried out by Iraq police working with the occupying forces.

On Thursday 5 May this year, a unit of Iraqi police commandos raided a wholesale vegetable market in the Hayy Jameela district, north of Baghdad. Eyewitnesses say that 15 men were arrested and taken away. They were all farmers who brought their produce daily to the market.

The next morning, a shallow mass grave was discovered in an industrial neighbourhood called Kasra-wa-Atash, not far from where the farmers were arrested.

The bodies were blindfolded and showed clear signs of torture — some had broken bones. Some had burn marks on their bodies. They had been shot in different parts of their bodies and some had had their right eyeball removed.

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Sat 28 May 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1953
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