Dozens of Abu Torture Gulags

Tehran Times

November 5, 2005

When the United States came to Iraq to “liberate it from the oppression and brutal regime of Saddam Hussein”, the American President George W. Bush told the Iraqis their suffering has come to an end and that no Iraqi will ever be tortured again.

Less than a year after the invasion, Abu Ghraib abuse scandal broke out, with the release of appalling pictures depicting the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi detainees.

When the pictures of Abu Ghraib or actually “Abu Gulag”, (Gulag signifies not only the administration of the concentration camps but also the system of Soviet slave labor itself, according to “Wikipedia”) were released, Bush lied once again, claiming that those responsible for what happened at Abu Ghraib jail would be held accountable.

But so far, only few low-ranking soldiers have been charged in the abuse scandal, those who signed the decrees authorizing torture, and those like President Bush himself, who were told by human rights groups about the torture, have not been held accountable.

Earlier this week U.S. human rights groups told the UN Human Rights Committee there are dozens of U.S. secret detention centers around the world where America holds scores of what it calls “terror” suspects, Inter Press Service reported.

Members of Committee, which includes 18 independent experts with recognized competence in the field of human rights, are currently studying the U.S.’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

On the other hand, Priti Patel, an attorney and representative of the New-York based group Human Rights First, reported to the Committee about secret U.S. detention centers where it holds scores of “terror suspects”. "There are locations you know about, like Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram in Afghanistan," commented Patel, "but there are other locations which you know exist, but you don't know exactly how many or where they are."

"There are around 20 of them in Afghanistan, but you don't know how many people are being held there, and you don't know how they are being treated," Patel told IPS.

"And then there is the worst case scenario, which is you don't know even their location," she added. "We don't know if people have been held in Diego Garcia (a small island in the Indian Ocean, home to a U.S. military base), but we have enough credible reports to make us believe it."

Washington adopts an ambiguous strategy, neither confirming nor denying the existence of those secret detention centers, "We know that at least 36 people have been held in secret locations," Patel said.

The Committee has previously raised concern over the U.S. Human Rights records, particularly regarding the implications of the Patriot Act, passed in October 2001 as one of the President’s first measures adopted as part of his so-called “war on terror”, following Sept. 11 attacks.

Monique Beadle, on behalf of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, told IPS that the Committee received complaints about U.S. non-compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with particular emphasis on the situation of detainees, especially those held in countries where detainees are subjected to several abusive tactics.

Beadle cited the case of Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a U.S. citizen who traveled to Saudi Arabia for religious studies before the Saudi authorities, following orders from the United States, arrested him.

Beadle said Ahmed was detained without charges for 18 months in a Saudi prison.

"He was subjected to all kinds of evil treatment"

"There are scars on his back from the torture he was subjected to," she reported. World Organization for Human Rights USA filed a habeas corpus on his behalf in the District of Columbia, but "the judge in the case recognized that if we could show that the U.S. was playing a role in the custody and detention of Abu Ali, it could be held accountable."

The judge's decision "was quite embarrassing for the U.S. government," she said.

Abu Ali was later transferred to the United States, and is still held there on accusations of having links to terror organizations.

"What this indicated is that the U.S. had control over his custody at all times, because at the last moment, when it was no longer convenient for him to be held in Saudi Arabia, it was very easy for them to bring him over," Beadle noted. Beadle also mentioned similar cases of prisoners who’ve been transferred to Egypt or Syria, as well as other countries, where they were subjected to torture.

Beadle said that Guantanamo detainees are sometimes put in sensory deprivation and then on a plane, which flies for several hours and lands back in Guantanamo, although they’re made to believe that they have been taken to Egypt.

"The guards tell them in Arabic, welcome to Egypt. If you don't participate in this interrogation, we are going to torture you," she explained.

The UN Human Rights Committee, currently holding its last session of the year, promised to take the denunciations made by these non-governmental organizations into account when it studies the report submitted by the United States, most likely during its session here next July, IPS stated.