The whole world heard about the one in Jadriya, recently raided by the Americans. Jadriya was once one of the best areas in Baghdad. It’s an area on the river and is special in that it’s greener, and cleaner, than most areas. Baghdads largest university, Baghdad University, is located in Jadriya (with a campus in another area). Jadriya had some of the best shops and restaurants- not to mention some of Baghdad’s most elegant homes…… and apparently, now, a torture house.
We hear constantly about these torture dungeons. Right after the war, certain areas became infamous for them. The world knows them as ‘torture houses’ for the obvious reasons- they were once ordinary homes, and now they’ve become torture centers for suspects and innocents alike. The Iraqi government conveniently calls them ‘detention centers’ and the Iraqi Ministry of Interior oversees and funds them.
One area which was well-known for its torture houses immediately after the war was Sadir City in Baghdad. Except they weren’t called torture houses back then. The people who ran them called them ‘ma7akim’ or ‘courts’. They would bring ‘suspects’ in for interrogation- often ordinary citizens- and beat and whip them for various confessions involving accusations and alleged crimes. A ‘Sayid’ would then come in and sentence the culprit- the sentence would sometimes involve cutting off a hand or a foot and at other times it might be death. We heard this from an aunts neighbor who was mistakenly taken in and beaten as a suspected former security agent. His family connections with influential Shia clerics in the area were the only things that got him out alive- bruised and broken- but alive.
These torture houses have existed since the beginning of the occupation. While it is generally known that SCIRI is behind them, other religious parties are not innocent. The Americans know they exist- why the sudden shock and outrage? This is hardly news for Americans in the Green Zone. The timing is quite interesting- it shouldn’t matter that this raid came immediately after the whole white phosphorous story came out, but the Pentagon and American military have proven to be the ultimate masters of diversion.
Only last year in an area called Ghazaliya, one such house was discovered. It was on a smaller scale though. My cousin lives in Ghazaliya and he said that when the Americans got inside, they found several corpses and a man hanging from the ceiling on a makeshift noose. The neighbors had tried to get the Americans to check the house for months- no one bothered. They finally raided it because they got information from someone in the area that it was an insurgents hiding place. I read once that in New York, if a woman is being raped, she should scream ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ because no one would come to save her if she was screaming ‘rape’. That’s the way it is with Iraqi torture houses- the only way they’ll check it is if you tell them it’s a terrorist cell.
And another thing- you know when they say ‘men dressed in Ministry of Interior uniforms’ or ‘men in official cars claiming to be from the Ministry of Interior’, etc. when describing some horror committed by the new Iraqi security forces in the news? Here’s a thought: they aren’t ‘claiming’ and they aren’t in costume- they actually ARE from the Ministry of Interior! One would think they’d do this covertly so as not to enrage Iraqis or humanitarian organisations, except that it doesn’t matter to them because SCIRI and Da’awa aren’t out to win hearts and minds. They have American favor- what more does one need in the New Iraq?
For over a year corpses have been turning up all over Baghdad. Corpses of people who are taken from their homes in the middle of the night (lately they’ve been more brazen- they just do everything in the light of day), and turn up dead somewhere. That isn’t as disturbing as the reports about the bodies- the one I can’t get out of my head is that many of the corpses are found with holes in the skull left by an electric drill.
I guess the lucky ones go to Abu Ghraib……
And it’s not only ‘suspected insurgents’ who disappear- Iraqi security forces have been known to raid complete areas and detain any males from the ages of 12 to 60- especially in Sunni areas. Those ‘suspected terrorists’ that are rounded up and taken away- you know where they disappear to now.
Interior Minister Bayan Jabr (SCIRI Thug-Made-Government-Official-In-Italian-Suits) is mollifying Iraqis with this little gem,
I’m sure we can all sleep better at night with the knowledge that SCIRI/Da’awa torturers don’t discriminate according to religious sect- under the new constitution, American military guidance, and the blessings of the Pentagon- all Iraqis will be tortured equally.