Wednesday, June 23, 2004

US tortured Afghanistan detainees

Duncan Campbell and Suzanne Goldenberg
Wednesday June 23, 2004
The Guardian

Detainees held in Afghanistan by US troops have been routinely tortured and humiliated as part of the interrogation process in the same way as those in Iraq, a Guardian investigation has found.

Five detainees have died in custody, three of them in suspicious circumstances, and survivors have told stories of beatings, strippings, hoodings and sleep deprivation.

The nature of the alleged abuse indicates that what happened at Abu Ghraib was part of a pattern of interrogation that has been common practice since the invasion of Afghanistan.

"The abuses in Afghanistan were no less egregious than at Abu Ghraib, but because there were no photographs - at least to our present knowledge - they have not received enough attention," Senator Patrick Leahy, the Democratic member of the Senate subcommittee on foreign operations, told the Guardian.

"Prisoners in Afghanistan were subjected to cruel and degrading treatment, and some died from it. These abuses were part of a wider pattern stemming from a White House attitude that 'anything goes' in the war against terrorism, even if it crosses the line of illegality."

Syed Nabi Siddiqi, a former police officer, said he had been beaten and stripped. "They took off my uniform. I showed them my identity card from the government of President Karsai. Then they asked me which of those animals - they made the noise of goats, sheep, dogs, cows - have you had sexual activities with?"

A second detainee, Noor Aghah, said he had been forced to drink bottle after bottle of water during his interrogation.

Another prisoner, Wazir Muhammad, was held for nearly two years, firstly in Afghanistan and then in Guantánamo Bay. "At the end of my time in Guantánamo, I had to sign a paper saying I had been captured in battle which was not true," he said. "I was stopped when I was in my taxi with four passengers. But they told me I would have to spend the rest of my life in Guantánamo if I did not sign it, so I did."

Parts of an investigation into allegations of abuse in custody by Brigadier General Chuck Jacoby are to be made public next month by the head of the US forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General David Barno.

Gen Barno said: "I will tell you without hesitation that intelligence procedures have got to be done in accordance with the appropriate standards ... all our forces will treat every detainee here with dignity and respect."

Bagram and the network of US detention centres around Afghanistan have largely avoided scrutiny, yet, according to the coalition forces last week, more than 2,000 people have been detained there since the war.


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