The Truth about the Massacres of Abu Graib and Al-Taji Prisons
by The Coordination Committee for Supporting the Iraqi Intifadha on 09-08-2013BRussells Tribunal
Until today, no impartial and honest report about the incident has been announced, nor about the exact number of prisoners who were able to flee.
After one of the armed groups in Iraq had stormed the prison (Abu Ghraib) on the evening of July 21 2013, a huge body of news, formal and informal, came out to explain that the group implemented twelve suicide bombings in order to demolish the outside wall of the prison and distract guards. This was followed by clashes between prison guards and units of the security forces on the one hand and the attacking group on the other. After the attack many of the detainees were smuggled and others fled.
Until today, no impartial and honest report about the incident has been announced, nor about the exact number of prisoners who were able to flee. Nevertheless, a member of the Security and Defense Committee in the House of Representative said in a program on Al-Baghdadiya TV that at least 500 prisoners fled. But there is a total blackout on the part of the government in regards the number of casualties who were killed during the clashes between the two sides, or those who were executed on the spot, or after the forces regained control on the prison.
But the real number of detainees who had managed to escape according to many sources from the government, the media or the parliament, ranged from 500 to 3000. So far, there has not been any complete verification of casualties, or of those who have been arrested in the surrounding areas of the prison in the days following the operation. There is no information too about real data regarding the cases of those who fled, or the reason for their arrests in the first place.
Many observers had believed that what happened in the Taji prison on the same day is the same scenario that happened in Abu Ghraib prison, summarized above. But the Minister of Justice Hassan Shammari and many of the sources of the parliamentary committee of security and defense denied completely that there was any attack by any group on the Taji prison. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said during a meeting with the leaders of the military and security units after the Abu Graib operation that the attack on the Taji prison had failed completely due to the fierce resistance of units of prison guards in Taji, a prison that is located amid a special military camp for special military troops, in charge of protecting the city of Baghdad. But anyway, demonstrations slogans all over Iraq, especially in the south, call Maliki a lier.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper said in a detailed report published on July 30th 2013 that the truth is very different from what has been said in many channels and media reports of local and international media. Al-Quds investigation report stated, according to Jabbar Azzam, a lawyer working on several cases in the prison, that what happened in Taji prison was a bloody and heinous retaliation crime carried out by the Iraqi security forces in revenge after the attack on the Abu Ghraib prison, a fact that was indirectly confirmed by the Parliamentary Security Committee when its member said that not a single prisoner who fled from Taji prison. The report said that the prison guards and special units opened the doors and lied to the detainees, saying that there is an attempt to liberate them, exactly like what happened in Abu Ghraib prison. When the detainees tried to exit outside their cells, they were surprised by the presence of SWAT forces before them in the courtyard, who opened fire and shoot randomly and directly at them, which led to the fall of many, others who were injured but remained alive were re-arrest and tortured.
The SWAT forces not only committed this brutal crime; but they also collected the victims’ bodies in a heap and left them to rot outside the prison for at least two days in the open and under the sun heat. Then it proceeded to burn the bodies, in a new Iraqi Holocaust that has been going on for ten years.
According to the account of eyewitness from Baghdad -a mother of two detainees- charred bodies had been handed over later to the department of forensic medicine in Baghdad, but they were so deformed that it was impossible to identifying the victims. The families of the detainees were prevented from entering the department to identify the bodies of their loved ones for a long time. Until today officials have not explained the reason behind burning the bodies by SWAT and its accompanying security forces. But people believe that the bodies had been cremated to cover up the decomposition, to hide the traces of torture, or for both reasons.
One of the TV channels in Baghdad announced later that there are 105 bodies in the forensic medicine office and called their parents to go to there to receive them.
Conflicting news about the truth of what actually happened at massacres of Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons, are still coming out. An ex-judge in the current Iraqi Government, Muneer Haddad, said that thousands of the detainees are innocent people, but opacity and confusion remains the prevailing policies and behavior of the Iraqi officials. He repeatedly called upon Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki to step down and resign. In any case, most of the news and testimonies narrated by eyewitnesses confirm the massacre. Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama Nujaifi called upon Chairman of the Supreme Court Hassan Ibrahim Himiari to investigate the horrible torture in Iraqi prisons, and the killing and burning of dozens of detainees.
The daily horrors of what is happening inside Iraqi prisons such as torture, violation of human rights, and sectarian motivated revenge and liquidations are no secrets to anyone nowadays. Perhaps the Abu Ghraib prison is one of the most famous Iraqi prisons in the world, in terms of the unmatched horror and gravity of crimes committed against detainees. But Journalist and activist Haifa Zangana, among others, has shown that Taji prison is comparable to Abu Graib, but remains unknown to the outside world.
In an article Zangana wrote on July 26th, 2013 she reviewed some of what is going on inside these prisons such as assaults on detainees, both physically and psychologically: beatings, depriving them of the simplest rights, insulting, and threatening of assault on their families or relatives. In some cases guards urinate on detainees and force them to drink urine and to clean toilets with their beards, not to mention keeping prisoners for long hours in the scorching summer sun, in order to force them to sign false confessions and fabricated accusations to incriminate them with fake and malicious charges.
All these crimes committed daily against detainees in Iraq, while the majority of detainees are not presented to the judiciary. Some of them do not know why they are arrested and what they are accused of, even after spending several years in prison. Many went on hunger strike to protest these crimes and violations. But the authorities have given them a deaf ear.
In a televised confession of former Interior Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh, he admitted that an Iraqi woman spent six years in jail without trial, and the case file was completely empty except of one document presented by the so-called secret informant who was completely unknown.