Saturday, May 21, 2005

Archival Rescue 34 ~ Torture Afghanistan

American torturers driven by boredom
By Tim Golden May 21, 2005 Sydney Morning Herald

Like a narrative counterpart to the digital images from Abu Ghraib, a confidential US Army report contains graphic details of widespread abuse of detainees in Afghanistan in 2002 carried out by young and poorly trained soldiers.

The abuse, described along with the details of the deaths of two inmates at the Bagram detention centre, emerged from a nearly 2000-page file of the army's criminal investigation into the case.

The report centres on the death of a 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar and that of another detainee, Habibullah, who died at Bagram six days earlier in December 2002. But the harsh treatment went well beyond the two deaths.

In some instances, it was directed or carried out by interrogators to extract information. In others, it was punishment meted out by military police guards.

Sometimes the torment seems to have been driven by little more than boredom or cruelty, or both.

In statements to US army investigators, soldiers described one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals.

They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.

Incidents of prisoner abuse at Bagram have previously been reported, but US officials have characterised them as isolated problems that were thoroughly investigated.

Yet the Bagram file includes ample testimony that harsh treatment by some interrogators was routine and that guards could strike shackled detainees with virtual impunity.

According to the report, Dilawar, a taxi driver, had been hauled from his cell around 2 am to answer questions about a rocket attack on a US base.

When he arrived in the interrogation room, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably and his hands were numb.

He had been chained by his wrists to the ceiling of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Dilawar's face.

A military police guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummelled by US military guards for several days, could no longer bend.

When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor saw Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before army investigators learned a final horrific detail - most of the interrogators believed Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the US base at the wrong time.


  • Abu Ghraib, Iraq Prisoners sexually humiliated, abused and beaten as military police guards videotape and photograph the scenes.
  • Camp Breadbasket, Iraq British soldiers force Iraqis into humiliating sexual poses and photograph them in degrading positions.
  • Guantanamo Bay The International Committee of the Red Cross tells the US Government in confidential reports its treatment of detainees is "tantamount to torture".
  • Afghanistan Human Rights Watch reports that nine detainees are known to have died in US custody, including four cases already determined to be murder or manslaughter.


Post a Comment

<< Home