Posted 5 months ago on April 28, 2014, 4:16 p.m. EST by LeoYoh
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On Bringing War Criminals to Justice
Monday, 28 April 2014 12:30
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report
This is part II of a series on Dahr Jamail's trip to the Iraq Commission conference in Brussels. Also see Part I: International Lawyers Seek Justice for Iraqis
Narmeen Saleh and her husband Shawki were detained by US military forces during a violent 2004 raid of their home in Baghdad.
Saleh spent 16 days in prison, where "the interrogations didn't stop for one minute." She was beaten, electrocuted and threatened with rape if she didn't "confess."
"They [US soldiers] tortured and beat me a lot, and when they found out that I was pregnant they told me they would kill the baby in my womb," she was quoted, as her testimony was read at the Iraq Commission conference in Brussels recently. "They then concentrated their beating and electricity on my abdomen area."
Her daughter, who is now 8 years old, has cerebral palsy, and her husband remains in custody of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the bogus charge of "illegally entering Iraq."
This shocking testimony was provided to international lawyers, journalists , and activists converged at a conference titled, "The Iraq Commission," held in Brussels, Belgium, April 16 and 17, with the primary aim of bringing to justice government officials who are guilty of war crimes in Iraq.
The conference represented the most powerful and most current organized movement in the world to hold accountable those responsible for the catastrophic invasion and occupation in Iraq, including UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President George W. Bush, along with others in their administrations.
War Crimes in Iraq
Nawal al-Obaidi, an Iraqi academic and founding trustee of the International Action for Iraqi Refugees NGO, provided somber testimony about how her brother was killed by US forces.
Hazim al-Obaidi left his wife and four children at their home in Mosul to go to work at his grocery store one morning in January 2005.
That same evening, his wife became worried when Hazim had not returned home and began a search.
"The whole family could not sleep that night, wondering what had happened to Hazim and why he did not return back home," his sister Nawal told the audience. "As the curfew was in place, no one could leave the house until the next morning."
The next morning, family members searched the morgues of the main hospital, but to no avail. Two days later, they learned of his burned car.
Eyewitnesses informed the family of the car being attacked by US forces, who "started shooting at him and at his car, until the car exploded." What was left of the severely burned body was removed by family members, then, "to the bewilderment of his family, US troops stopped them after they had collected the body, uncovered it and took photos."
"Hazim was not a "terrorist" or a "Saddamist," al-Obeidi explained. "He was a cheerful family man who was wounded in the Iran-Iraq war and survived the harshness of the sanctions years by selling groceries. Who is going to investigate his killing, compensate his family, and help his children to make sense of their tragedy? Will it be the Iraqi government, or the US-led occupation? Judging by the human rights records of both, the answer is that neither of them will investigate Hazim's killing, or any other. [Hundreds of] thousands of civilians have been killed for no reason. One of them was my brother."
This writer, too, provided testimony: I spoke of several war crimes I witnessed during my reportage from Iraq during the US-led occupation.
In May 2004, I interviewed a man who had just been released from Abu Ghraib prison. Like so many I interviewed from various US military detention facilities who'd been tortured horrifically, he still managed to maintain his sense of humor.
He began laughing when telling of how US soldiers made him beat other prisoners. He laughed because he told me he had been beaten himself prior to this and was so tired that all he could do to beat other detained Iraqis was to lift his arm and let it drop on the other men.
Later in the same interview, when telling of another story, he laughed again and said, "The Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house."
Another story I reported to the international lawyers was that of 55-year-old Sadiq Zoman, who was tortured horrifically by US military personnel. I shared documentation of US military doctors, nurses and medics being complicit with that torture.
Zoman was detained from his home in Kirkuk in a raid by US soldiers that produced no weapons. He was taken to a police office in Kirkuk, the Kirkuk Airport Detention Center, the Tikrit Airport Detention Center and then the 28th Combat Support Hospital, where he was treated by Dr. Michael Hodges, a lieutenant colonel.
Hodges' medical report listed the primary diagnoses of Zoman's condition as hypoxic brain injury (brain damage caused by lack of oxygen) "with persistent vegetative state," myocardial infraction (heart attack) and heat stroke.
After one month in custody, Zoman was dropped off in a coma at the General Hospital in Tikrit by US soldiers.
Zoman's last name was listed as his first name on the report, despite the fact that all of his identification papers were taken during the raid on his home. Because of this, it took his family weeks to locate him in the hospital.
Hodges' medical report did not mention the fact that the back of Zoman's head was bashed in, nor that he had electrical burn marks on the bottoms of his feet and genitals, or why he had lash marks across his back and chest.
Zoman remains in a coma, and there has been no compensation provided to his now-impoverished family for what was done to him.