Thursday, March 02, 2006

Something Interesting I found in the News

Pace: Torture, Killings Widespread in Iraq

By ED JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer SYDNEY, Australia -

Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad now as they were under Saddam Hussein, as lawlessness and sectarian violence sweep the country, the former U.N. human rights chief in Iraq said Thursday. John Pace, who last month left his post as director of the human rights office at the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, said the level of extra-judicial executions and torture is soaring, and morgue workers are being threatened by both government-backed militia and insurgents not to properly investigate deaths.

"Under Saddam, if you agreed to forgo your basic right to freedom of expression and thought, you were physically more or less OK," Pace said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But now, no. Here, you have a primitive, chaotic situation where anybody can do anything they want to anyone."

Pace, who was born in Malta but now resides in Australia, said that while the scale of atrocity under Saddam was "daunting," now nobody is safe from abuse. "It is certainly as bad," he said. "It extends over a much wider section of the population than it did under Saddam."

Pace, currently a visiting fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, spoke as sectarian tensions in Iraq push the country to the brink of civil war. There has been a surge in religious violence in Iraq since the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite shrine in the mainly Sunni city of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, and a spate of reprisal attacks against Sunnis.

The situation has been made worse by extremist Shiite militia operating within the ranks of the Interior Ministry, said Pace, who singled out the Badr Brigade, which makes up a large chunk of the Iraqi security services and military. He said militia and insurgents are responsible for threatening morgue staff in Baghdad not to perform autopsies on bodies of apparent victims of torture and killings. "They are told it is not necessary, and not in their interests," he said, adding that both militia and insurgents were "trying to minimize any chances" that their activities could be investigated and prosecuted.

Pace, who spent much of his two years in the post in Iraq, said he visited the morgue in Baghdad once a week when he was in the city and regarded it as a "barometer" of the level of violence in the country. He declined to provide more specific details about the threats, citing fears for the safety of morgue workers. He said that around three-quarters of the several hundred bodies brought to the morgue each month were categorized with "gunshot wound" as the cause of death -- a phrase Pace says is a euphemism. "Nearly all were executed and tortured," he added.

Iraq's interior minister, Bayan Jabr, is a member of Iraq's biggest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, which ran the Badr Brigade. Badr claims it is no longer an armed militia. But former Badr commanders hold key posts in Interior Ministry commando units, which are regarded by Sunnis as nothing more than death squads. In November, the U.S. Army raided an Interior Ministry bunker in Baghdad and found 158 tortured and starved Sunni prisoners. "They have caused havoc," said Pace, referring to the Badr Brigade. "They do basically as they please. They arrest people, they torture people, they execute people, they detain people, they negotiate ransom and they do that with impunity."

9 comments:

Ole Blue The Heretic said...

There are many in the Intelligences abencies that are saying, "Told you so." Back in the first Iraq war we figured getting rid of Saddam would cause chaos, and we were right.

Anonymous said...

Sad isn't it? All our fallen soldiers gave up their lives for this, a possible civil war. Saddam was bad but maybe he had to be, thats what we are seeing now. Democracy isn't for everyone, you need to have some control.

Unfortunately, as much as I have hated this war & have believed we shouldn't have gone there, we have to at least take control. We cannot leave the place a bigger mess then what it was (which is what is happening), but I don't think the Bush Administration has a clue on how to do it!!

Albatroz said...

Uncomfortable as the thought may be, the only solution is to leave Iraq as soon as possible. Eventually someone will take control and will end up ruling Iraq very much like Saddam Hussein did. Those opposed to the victor's ideology will be killed, the others will have a more or less a normal life. With luck things may change in a couple of hundred years... Meanwhile, a few thousand Americans will have been killed or wounded for nothing. Pity Bush and friends were too stupid to understand this was inevitable...

Lance said...

When I read stuff like this, seems all I can do is sigh and nodd my head. I truly do believe that stability will return once we are out. I say return becase a fact of the matter is that before we went in, there was stability. Numerus high ranking officials, incudding Daddy Bush himself who listened when he was told, that marching into Bahgdad was bad news. ole blue is right...

Anonymous said...

What a world huh. It just doesn't wash to the average citizen sold on this farse that the only way to 'rule' three different ethnic/religious groups that have been at each other's throats for the last thousand years is to ride roughshod, and our man in Baghdad did it well, and we applauded him for it and supported him all the way. Until one fine day he fancied bringing a rogue province back in. I wonder how April Gillespie sleeps at night. Do you realize that if she had simply told Saddam that the U.S. was prepared to militarily intervene on behalf of Kuwait 15 years of history would have been rewritten. All flowing from one diplomatic screw-up. This is very much reminiscent of Dean Acheson proclaiming Korea outside the U.S. defensive perimeter in April of 1950 and basically telegraphing to North Korea, yeah hey, go for it. Very few people know about the April Gillespie cock-up, but it will go down in history as one of the greatest diplomatic blunders of all time. But oh well, America is a big dull desensitized elephant and too drunk and too big to pay attention to little details of that nature. Glad your home Zach. Don't ever get mixed up with that crowd again man. Your kids need you! We need you!

Anonymous said...

I hope you get out of there before we attack the Iranian nuke facilities and start the war for Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province, Zach.

Snag said...

As former intel who served during the first Gulf War, I agree with Old Blue. There's nothing new or suprizing about the events unfolding in Iraq now. They tried to take a doctrinal template and make the picture fit (and they're still doing it to promote their agenda), but to do that there's a lot of reality that has to be ignored.
So long as they're "pro-democracy" death squads, I guess there's less of a problem.

Anonymous said...

George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft wrote in , A World Transformed, 1998:

"Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in mission creep, and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs."

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at the logic of the lefties at this site. Oh we shouldn't have gone to war because they were not killing each other under Sadaam's rule,oh we have to get out of there right away, oh we have wasted so many lives. Zack use to tell how wonderful the Iraqis are and it is just us that are the bad guys. Yeah right. The sunni and shitites really loved each other before bad daddy US arrived. Yeah right. If we get out they will all be at peace. Yeah right. I didn't mention Haliburton but on and on it goes.
Bush has masterfully or sendipitously put the arab world to the test for all the world to see. It's not American colonalism, it's not the oil,it's not about preemptive war, it's not about mending fences with old allies, it's not how the UN should take the lead in monitoring world: It is whether the arabs and the arabs alone want democracy or mideval arab tribalism.