portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

imperialism & war | prisons & prisoners

Graves Of 1,000 Iraqi Political Prisoners Discovered

"They are all political. Ten to 15 bodies would arrive at a time from the Abu Ghraib prison and we would bury them here," said Mohymeed Aswad, adding that the last corpse interred there was number 993.
Graves Of 1,000 Iraqi Political Prisoners Discovered

BAGHDAD, April 21 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies)- Nearly 1,000 political prisoners lie buried in secret graves at a cemetery on the western outskirts of Baghdad, the cemetery's manager and a gravedigger said Monday, April 21.

"The Baath regime has gone and now we can talk freely with you," Mohymeed Aswad told Agence France-Presse (AFP), while displaying remains of the corpses.

"They are all political. Ten to 15 bodies would arrive at a time from the Abu Ghraib prison and we would bury them here," he said, adding that the last corpse interred there was number 993.

Mohammad Moshan Mohammad, gravedigger at the Al-Qarah cemetery located about 30 kilometres (18 miles) from central Baghdad and about two kilometers (1.3 miles) from the prison, said much of his work involved political prisoners.

He said all the dead that arrived during the last three years he worked at the cemetery were aged between 15 and 30, men and women who had been shot or hanged.

"They were all youths. The civilians were hanged. Sometimes a soldier would come through and they were all shot. I could distinguish them by their uniforms," he said through an interpreter.

Unidentified Corpses

However, there are no names at the grave sites which occupy three acres of land and are fenced off by a six-foot (nearly two-meter) high wall. Instead most graves are marked with a steel stake and a piece of rusting tin bearing a number.

"This grave belongs to a woman. She was hanged," Mohammad told AFP, pointing to number 952.

"The last body, number 993 was brought in by secret police, he was hanged.

"There are another five cemeteries in Baghdad with secret grave sites so in this city alone there are about 6,000 (political) corpses. In every cemetery in Baghdad you'll find the same."

The cemetery was originally built in 1973 and Mohymeed has worked here ever since. The remains of Rada, the wife of Iraq's first president Ahmad Hasan al-Bakar, are interred in an opulent mausoleum.

Other graves with marble headstones offer a stark contrast to the shallow pits reserved for the inmates of Abu Ghraib. Skeletons have been dug up by stray animals, some graves are completely unmarked.

homepage: homepage: http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2003-04/21/article09.shtml