portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting global

faith & spirituality | imperialism & war | media criticism

Red Cross validates Quran abuses

In an unprecendented move, the International Committee of the Red Cross threw itself in the middle of the Newsweek controversy by public acknowledgment of documented Quran abuse cases. The ICRC says it has credible information that U.S. personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have mistreated the Quran.

NPR reported the story days after Newsweek retracted a story making similar allegations. NPR, of course, must be careful to be "balanced" in their reporting, so the NPR story stressed that they are not validating the specific story cited by Newsweek.

Newsweek, of course, never broke the story anyway: the Newsweek report was basically a report of ICRC, Human Rights Watch and other previously reported stories. (What Newsweek added was that when they checked with the Pentagon, the stories were - at first - confirmed.)

Needless to say, there are other violations just as disturbing that haven't even seen daylight in the press yet. How many people died due to the events reported?
Here are a couple of reports worldwide (out there where Bush can't censor) --

- Reuters

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the ICRC has come to the Pentagon "on rare occasion" with allegations made by detainees at Guantanamo.

"They are consistent with the type of things that we have talked about, what we have found in log entries (at Guantanamo), to include things like a Koran inadvertently falling to the floor," Whitman said.

- BBC

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had reported the allegations in confidence to Pentagon officials many times in 2002 and 2003.

AND EVEN IN PRINT MEDIA HERE IN THE U.S. --

- LA Times

Schorno told the Chicago Tribune, which first reported the story Thursday, that the delegates gathered and corroborated enough similar, independent reports from detainees to raise the issue on numerous occasions with Guantanamo commanders and Pentagon officials.

"All information we received were corroborated allegations," he told the newspaper. "Obviously, it is not just one person telling us something happened and we just fire up." It was unclear what the Red Cross' corroboration process consisted of.
_____________

Although not about the Quran, the Quran story brings to mind a March 2004 story in the British press about two recently released British citizens who had spent time in Guantanemo.

A BRITISH captive freed from Guantanamo Bay said detainees were shackled for up to 15 hours at a time in hand and leg cuffs with metal links which cut into the skin.

Their "cells" were wire cages with concrete floors and open to the elements - giving no privacy or protection from the rats, snakes and scorpions loose around the American base.

(Note that the chief issue with the supposed Newsweek riots were about Quran being disrespected by being treated uncleanly!)

The men would return distraught. One said an American girl had smeared menstrual blood across his face in an act of humiliation.

Jamal said: "I knew of this happening about 10 times. It always seemed to be those who were very young or known to be particularly religious who would be taken away."

Jamal said: "Sometimes you would be chained up on the floor with your hands and feet actually bound together. One of my friends told me he was kept like that for 15 hours once.

"Recreation meant your legs were untied and you walked up and down a strip of gravel. In Camp X-Ray you only got five minutes but in Delta you walked for around 15 minutes."

Jamal said victims of the Extreme Reaction Force were paraded in front of cells. "It was a horrible sight and it was a frequent sight."

He said one unit used force-feeding to end a hunger strike by 70 per cent of the 600 inmates. The strike started after a guard deliberately kicked a copy of the Koran.

Rice and beans was the usual diet and the water was "filthy". Jamal added: "In Camp X-Ray it was yellow and in Delta it was black - the colour of Coca-Cola.

"We had it piped through with a tap in each 'cage' but they would often turn the water off as punishment.

Describing medical treatment, Jamal said he knew of 11 men who had legs amputated and two who lost toes and fingers. He was told that the Americans had removed far more tissue than was necessary.

He added: "The man in the cell next to me had frostbite in two fingers and two toes. He also had it in his big toe, but they didn't treat that for a year by which time they had to cut off much more than was needed."

"All the men who had lost limbs complained they would chop them off high up and not bother to try to save as much as possible."