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Beating their Hearts and Minds

Huda's lawyer told us not to talk about her torture in Abu Greib in front of Farah and Noor, because she did not tell her daughters anything of that. There were 14 women with her. Their hands and legs were tied, heads hooded, they were put in solitary tight rooms. They were ordered to do the cleaning. But the most sever experience for Huda in jail was when her brother Iyad's dead body was thrown on her. He was naked , covered with bruises.
Huda Al-Azawi Was a Victim of Blackmail

Huda, 43, is in jail now for the third time, her story is well known, not only inside Iraq. It is a big tragedy of a whole family. Huda's brother Iyad was killed under torture in Adhamiya American military base in December 2003, his body was found in Baghdad morgue 3 months later among the unidentified. Her sister Nahla was arrested with her in December 2003 for eight months. Her Brother Ali is still in Bucca Camp for a year and a half now. Her nephew, Mohammad is arrested with her now, and is in Abo Greib. Her other brother, Mo'taz, was released after 15 months in Bucca. Their problem is that they are wealthy family. They refused to be blackmailed.

Huda is a business woman. She is a contractor. According to her daughter Farah, 23, a collaborator asked her to pay him $20.000, she refused, so he gave the American bad information about her, and she was arrested in December 2003. After 8 months of torture, too bad treatment, beating (when she was released her right arm was broken), in Abo Greib , the American general apologized to her, saying that he was sorry, that her file is clean, that investigations proved that she is innocent of the charge of funding the resistance, and that she was a victim of bad information.

"She was another woman when she was released last July" Farah says. This time her house was raided by the Iraqi National Guards and the American troops together on February 17, 2005 at 2.30 am. The house was hit by sound bombs, tear gas, the doors, windows and furniture were broken. All the personal and business documents, the computers, the money, the jewelry, and the car were all confiscated. The chairs were still covered with small pieces of glass when we visited her house. The younger daughter, Noor, 14, was slapped on her face many times by one of the INGs because she was crying when they tried to separate her from her sister, Farah. They used very bad words against them.

"But all this is not a problem", Farah insists "the problem is that my mother was ill when she was arrested in February, she just had an operation in her armpit, the stitches were not removed yet. They tied her arms to her back very tightly, she was crying, they tied her feet too, and hooded her. Her medicines were not taken with her"

"After she was arrested I looked for her every were, I had no clue where she was, until my cousin who was arrested in the same night was moved from the airport to Abo Greib, and we visited him, told us that she is kept in a solitary confinement in the airport"

When were in Huda's house interviewing Farah, the Red Cross called from Amman saying that her mother sent the first letter since she was arrested 2 months ago. There was a deep feeling of resignation in the letter. Huda says that this is her fate, she asks her daughters to take care of them selves and to be brave, to try to help her. She says that she is very tired and does not feel well, but she does not need clothes or food, that she is in the airport, given the same number as in the first arrest.

How was she arrested first in 2003?

-She went to the American base herself. After they came to our house many times, asking questions, she decided to go and meet the American commander himself. They arrested her there, never released until 8 months later, psychologically destroyed. We did not know about her until 6 months later.

Huda's lawyer told us not to talk about her torture in Abu Greib in front of Farah and Noor, because she did not tell her daughters anything of that. There were 14 women with her. Their hands and legs were tied, heads hooded, they were put in solitary tight rooms. They were ordered to do the cleaning. But the most sever experience for Huda in jail was when her brother Iyad's dead body was thrown on her. He was naked , covered with bruises.

In the New Iraq: The Democratic Example

SOS from Baladroose- First Example

This is a call for help from a town called Baladroose , north east of Baghdad.

In the Name of God the Most Merciful, the Most Gracious

A call for help from the people of Baladroose/Diyala: SOS

Ahl Assunna WA Ajjama'a in Baladroose and the surrounding villages are suffering from a campaign of arrests on identity, lead by police colonel Ali Ismael, well known as Ali Cable*, and his brother fedral police Major Walid Cable*.

These arrests included even the mosques sheikhs, among them sheikh Younis of Fajr Al-Islam mosque, sheikh Nafi' Ali Hussein, of Dahlakiya mosque, and sheikh Hamdan of Somood mosque.

Last Wednsday, sheikh Aqeel Ali Khalil,of Al-Mustapha mosque, was found dead with two bullets in his head, after he was kidnapped 10 days ago.

Detainees who were arrested inside the mosques are more than hundred. Those who were released talk about torture practices. Some of them his shoulders were wrenched, their fingers cut, some were raped, some disappeared, one of them died under torture, his name is Othman. Some were released after paying 6 million ID to an agent of Ali Cable, during the arrests all precious things were stolen from the houses, jewelry, and money. In Al-Fatimiya village, all the men in one house were arrested, money stolen, even sheep. The women went back to their parents; the houses now are empty and deserted.

Mosques are almost empty of prayers; even Friday prayers are not held.


*the Cable is a symbol of torture because it is used in whipping

2- Testimony: Curious Case, Releasing a Convict of Terrorism !!

(All details of names, dates, profession, places ...are not mentioned. The witness is very keen on giving his testimony, but he is afraid that if he reveals his identity, another charge would be fabricated against him and he would be arrested and exposed to torture again)

Abo Amr is a father of many children. One night his house was raided, the door was destroyed and tens of INGs occupied the house:

-Are you _?

-No, my name is _

-You are lying, you are all liars_

They began beating and calling bad words in front of the family. His hands were tied, head hooded, many belongings were taken: a licensed personal weapon, electric kitchen tools, like a juicer, even a plate of sweets among many other things. He was taken to the first investigation point. He thought that he is going to be released in two days at most. The room was about 15 square meters. There were 35-40 detainees in. It was cold, but the room was so crowded that the prisoners were happy with the breath of air. Some people were lying, some covered with blood, one with a broken arm?etc. Many were standing. Abo Amr could not sleep; he found a crack between the bricks, he stood beside to get some fresh air. Next afternoon, he was called for investigation.

He was taken eyes and hands tied. When he asked where to sit he was beaten.

He was asked to talk about a number of names, which he did not know. They told him that they found the names in his notebook. When he denied, He was beaten again. One of the police men asked the officer what would you like for dinner: Quozi, Biriani or Masgoof? (Names of typical Iraqi dishes)

Qouzi, the officer said. It turned out the names are of different types of torture. The Qouzi is tying the hands to the feet, and then inserting an iron stick between them and hanging the prisoner up side down by that stick (see a statue of the torture)

It was so painful; they would hit me with electric and ordinary sticks. My hands and legs were swelling. Two hours later they threw me back in the room.

-Did you sign? The prisoners asked

-Sign what? I asked. They exchanged glances.

The next afternoon, they asked me about bombed cars. They hanged me like a Qouzi again, putting off their cigarettes in my legs this time. Electrified me, I begged them to put me down. He said you are a Sunni. I said I do not mind, we are not enemies, I wished he would shoot me. The forth day I told him I will admit any thing, just do not hang me, killing, stealing, hurting people, anything?He said explosives. I told him that I do not know anything about them, He hit me on my face, I leaned down, a policeman behind me hit me by an iron stick on my back, they went on this way, until I fainted .

A new voice, asked them to give me some water, he offered me a cigarette. I could not hold it. He said " we know that you did not do anything of these acts, you are here as a witness. Just sign on these papers and you go" That was the happiest moment in my life. He made me put my fingerprints on six papers. I could not read because my eyes were still covered. When I returned back, the prisoners congratulated me. I realized that a prisoner was tortured the same way , but with inserting an iron stick in his buttocks . He was bleeding all the time.

;Abo Amr was waiting with the others. 43 more people were put in the same room. Some of them more than 63 years, another had heart problems. Few days later they called him again. They removed the tie of his eyes and said "you are good

they introduced me to a man and said that he is responsible for human rights. They told me to repeat my testimony in front of him, tell him about the sheikhs who were supposed to be terrorists and he would help me go home. I did. He was sitting to a computer. He asked me to look at him and talk. The others were standing behind him, facing me, helping me remember what they wanted me to say. I realized later that they were interviewing me for TV I said what they told me to say.

I was going back when an explosion happened near the prison, one of the policemen brought a leg of a victim and said this is the end of the terrorists and those who help them like you, and he kicked me on my right side. I felt his boot inside my body, and fainted. An hour later my chest was blue, swelling, and I could not breathe. 3 days later, I was moved to another prison, the interior ministry intelligence.

The investigation officer told Abu Amr that he confessed of manufacturing bombed cars equipment.

"I told him I do not know, I was tortured and made sign these papers", one of the policemen hit me hard on my chest, I fainted. There were 150 prisoners, 3 doctors among them. One of the doctors examined me and told me that two ribs were broken. He used a bed sheet to wrap me. They told me about the 7th floor, which used to be the office of the Interior Minister in the last regime, now it is the investigation floor: Torture. There, prisoners died under torture, one his pelvis was broken, many were raped, beaten by iron sticks?etc. One of them, Rasool, his wife was raped in front of him. A doctor's fingers were pulled out by pincers. A teenager lost his mind. He said he had the world map on his back. It was covered with traces of whipping 9 months ago. Another one had a deep wound in his arm; he was tied for weeks, until his arm was rotten and got worms. A week before I was sent here, the 7th floor was emptied of men, only women are left there. They said that there were 20 of them. They were used to put pressure on their husbands. One of them had a child of 4 with her.. I began to smell very bad; I realized that my armpit was bleeding. The flesh was rotten and open. I was called at night and beaten. Next day I was called to court. I was shackled hands and legs. The judge asked me what have you done? I said "you know, I do not". I told him the truth. The torture, the beating, the confessions, the finger prints, everything, I showed him the traces on my body. An American officer entered the room and was listening.

Two months later Abo Amr was moved again to a new prison, the notorious fifth section, in Kadhimiya. It is a well known prison from the last regime, where political prisoners were kept. It is called now the "special section", and it is supposed to be controlled by the Iraqi special police, but according to Abo Amr, it is controlled by the American. Here he was kept in a 2 by 2 meters cell, with other two prisoners. The cell has no window, no toilet, and no water. They had to pee in a bottle, and put their human waste in a sac. Beating and humiliation was a routine. They would spray pepper in the cell making the eyes hurt for three days. Some of the prisoners were kept there for 15 months. No lawyers, no visits, no contact with anybody. Two months later, Abo Amr was called to the judge again, who told him that no evidence was found to prove that he was guilty." I was not happy, I wondered what about my rights!!, what about the people that I confessed against!! I realized that the mosques sheikhs get different torture, concentrating on sexual torture in addition to the bodily one. I had to pay one million ID to be free" .

Since his release Abo Amr is on the run, he is afraid if he goes home he would be arrested again. His house was raided again by the American troops. A message was left , saying in Arabic, and in English:" We apologize for the damage to your home. We received a bad tip. You may recover your property and collect financial payment for property at Falcon (Scania). Please go to India gate to collect your property and money" the letter was signed by Let. Follinsbee. Abo Amr thinks that this is a trap.

3-The Secret

Abo Amr did not know that we have already interviewed the sheikh against whom he confessed, Sheikh N, who is on the run for months, is in his sixties, he says:

"After the occupation and the disappointment when it was obvious that it was not liberation at all, I found that my duty as an Imam is to tell the truth, which the occupiers did not like. They contacted me; an officer called Williams came with other 4 officers to see me and to ask me what I wanted. They offered me a job of the local council and some contracts. I told them that this is not my job, and that what I want them to do is to stop humiliating the Iraqis, not to put the sacs on their heads during arrests, not to put boots on their heads, or to throw them to the ground?etc. They agreed and asked: If we do these things are you going to stop criticizing us in your speeches, I said: no, my duty is to say the truth, and the truth is bitter.

I began to receive letters, the mosques was raided many times. The last letter they offered me a job of a leader of the Karkh area. I realized that it is a trap. The raids became more, twice a day. During the Friday prayer, the tanks surround the mosque, the same during Ramadan. The soldiers told the prayers that they are going to kill me. I received many threats from Iraqis too. I used to read them in the mosque and show them to the people, and reply.

On the day of the elections, they raided the mosque again; the mowathin (who calls to prayer), the guard and some people were there. There were no weapons in the mosque, only three authorized guns. They asked the mowathin to accompany them up the minaret to search. When they came down, there were two missiles in the mosque. I swear by the name of God, by all his great names, by the Holy Book, that the mosque was clean of any weapons. It was a plot well arranged in the dark. They arrested the mowathin, the guard and one of the praying, and they left a message that I can find them in the American headquarter, that I have to go there, for them to be released.

My house was raided next, 2 airplanes, 4 armored vehicles, 6-7 cars of INGs, lighting bombs, soldiers jumping of the fences, doors broken, bullets shot, shouting, holding guns against sleeping women and children?they even killed my dog. My little daughter, Sara, is still suffering from the shock, she goes hysterical when ever she sees or hears about them.

All the family left the house now, it is deserted. They are after me so violently, they ask all my friends and relatives, they cut my pension, and I work in the mosque for 13 years as a volunteer, all these harms just for a false and unjust word. They arrested my second son, as a hostage.

In the jail N's son met Abo Amr, who was already badly tortured and his ribs broken. Abo Amr told N's son that he was unable to bear the torture and sent the sheikh a message asking him for forgiveness if he saw him saying bad things against the sheikh on Al-Iraqiya TV channel. He told N's son that his testimony was dictated on him, to say that the sheikh was a terrorist.

Sheikh N is well known in his community which is of a Shiite majority as a very reasonable imam. He is a Sunni, but speaks of the Islamic Hussein revolution thousands of years ago, and the 12 Shiite Imams, better than any Shiite speaker, according to the neighborhood who confirmed that the sheikh was always talking against any sectarian conflict. He was accused of terrorism "I believe that a drop of a Moslem blood is greater than the Great Kaaba, how could I possibly be a terrorist?" The newspapers wrote about the sheikh very bad stories accusing him of immoral stories and terrorism?etc.

The Sheikh's older son is in jail since September27, 2004. But this is another story. This one who works in the university, was going back home with some friends when an American convoy was attacked in Al-Jihad district. All the men around were arrested, they were about 25. He spent 5 months in jail, when the Iraq judge found him not guilty and ordered releasing him. He is still in jail till this moment. His charge is of passing by the American convoy. The sheikh is not angry, but very sad. "There is a conspiracy against Islam, we have to face it. The only solution for Iraq is that the Iraqis are united against the enemy"

The sheikh's wife was crying all the time. She could not forget the raid, the noise, the lights, the searching, stealing the jewelry, the money, the documents, and the books. An officer called his superior saying that the house is clean, that the sheikh was not there, only his son. He was told to bring the son. Sara was so afraid that she could not even open her eyes. "I can not go back and live in the house again, while my husband and my son are not there"

Her daughter in law had a miscarriage because of the shock.

4- A Mother Was Arrested for Asking about Her Son

Um Dhia is 56. On December 31, 2004, her son Dhia who is a sheep merchant went to Najaf, about 200 kilometers south west of Baghdad, for a deal. He never returned back. Five days later, his mother, father, uncle and two relatives from Najaf went to ask about him in the police stations in Najaf. They never returned back, except the two relatives. A week later the rest of the family were asking in the garages if there was any accidents on the high way, or any explosions in Najaf. They found out that every body was arrested.

The Family asked a lawyer to look for them, they were afraid that any one, who was going to go looking for them, would be arrested. The lawyer told them that 2 days before Dhia went to Najaf, there was an explosion. And according to the emergency law, any suspect was arrested. Dhia was arrested at a check point, he was unarmed. When the family went to ask about him, the police officer welcomed them with hospitality, told them that he does not know anything about Dhia, but when they left, they were followed by a police patrol and were arrested.

In the Najaf police station the three were tortured. They were kept in separate dark cold rooms with their hands tied. They were beaten and humiliated. The mother asked to see her son. He was brought to her, beaten and tortured in front of her. She collapsed and moved to a hospital, so did the father and the uncle. From the hospital the whole family was moved by airplane to the Interior Ministry in Baghdad. The lawyer said he could not do any thing for them because they were accused of terrorism.

Dhia is a father of 5 children. His family does not know anything about him till now. But his father, mother and uncle got visits. The mother, however, was moved again to Al-Amiriya prison for greater crimes, because the women prison in the Interior Ministry was too crowded. The men remained in the same prison, 50 in one room. She was kept in the prison with other 20 women, who were accused of different crimes. One of them was tortured so badly that she was hysterical; she keeps on asking about her son, she tears her clothes, beats herself and cry all the time.

She was older than Um Dhia.

The four children, who were left alone, all students, are looked after by the relatives. The younger boy, Atheer, runs the father's shop. The family, who looks so far away from any political interest, is shocked and terrified when they talk about the prison "one of the men was dead because of torture, he was sexually abused, the other was paralyzed," said Aous , the second son.

"In Al-Amiriya, one prisoner was tortured by electricity; he was made to admit things that he did not do, like spreading leaflets", Atheer wanted to sound mature.

Dalfa' ,18, the second daughter who is a student in the Commerce high school, believes that her mother is a strong woman: " she is fasting since she was arrested months ago. She looks weaker and exhausted now. She does not talk about the prison.", but the little daughter Ala', 11, misses her mother : "I need her, they do not let me visit her in prison". Dalfa' thinks that it is better that the little Ala' does not see her mother in prison.