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The Horrors of Abu Ghraib

Uploaded by SchoolStinks! on Jul 07, 2004

Written By Robert Alt

Baghdad, Iraq—The nine men were arrested on flimsy charges and sent to Abu Ghraib prison, where they were tortured and filmed for their captors’ sadistic amusement. The scars they bear will be with them for the rest of their lives—a term which turned out to be short for two of the captives. Their story is particularly shameful because it was the government that should have been protecting them that inflicted the injuries. Theirs is not a story ripped from the headlines, because their story made no headlines. These are just a few of the victims of Saddam Hussein’s Abu Ghraib.

In 1996, Saddam arrested and tortured nine men on suspicion of trading in foreign currency. At the time of their arrest, trading in money other than Iraqi dinars was a crime—or more precisely, it was a line of work Saddam reserved for his cronies. But like many things in Saddam’s Iraq, the law was not exactly black-and-white. As one Iraqi familiar with the case described the chaotic nature of regulation under Saddam, "a law would be passed one day, then another would amend it the next." As a result of unclear law and the open operation of other currency exchanges, the nine men believed they were conducting a legal business.

Although Saddam was insufficiently public in his promulgation of the law, he made sure that his enforcement overcorrected for that error. In addition to detaining and torturing the men for eight months, he ordered their right hands cut off at Abu Ghraib, and demanded that a videotape of the mutilation be sent for him to view at his palace. Aside from providing Saddam with sadistic amusement, their mutilation was to stand as a living testament of what happens to those who dare compete against Saddam’s friends. This is the Abu Ghraib of Saddam Hussein, a prison that is rumored to have held as many as 400,000 people; a place where Iraqis were detained for crimes redounding to displeasing the dictator; a place where torture was the rule and not the exception; and a place that Iraqis feared worse than death itself. As Abu Ghraib survivor Ala’a Abdul Hussien Hassan explained, "I don’t believe that anybody can imagine what we’ve been through. We’ve been oppressed on all levels."

In post-Saddam Iraq, however, the seven survivors have been given new lives, or at least new hands. Thanks to a...

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Uploaded by:   SchoolStinks!

Date:   07/07/2004

Category:   Contemporary

Length:   4 pages (817 words)

Views:   4284

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