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Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Baghdad, Iraq – It’s an all too familiar story in the wake of war. Young women, desperately poor with the primary breadwinner gone, being forced into menial and demeaning work in order to make ends meet. Often that work is in the sex trade, the
one task unskilled and uneducated women have little trouble performing. Such is the situation in Iraq where thousands women, some left widowed, others the victims of gangs which have gained power in the chaos in the country, have been forced into sex slavery in order to survive.

Of course there’s sex and then there’s sex. Because of that nature of traditional Iraqi society many of the women being forced into prostitution are largely inexperienced in sex making the pay rates significantly less than they would be in more liberal countries. Those low revenues have, in turn, forced hundreds more into the trade in an effort to make up for lost revenue. None of that is helping the industry though which is starting to see a rapid decline in interest with many men feeling like their money is not being going nearly as far as it should.

“This is a major concern for many of us in the industry. There are those who simply
put more product into the market hoping that it will make up their bottom line but what it is really doing is hurting the reputation of the industry as a whole. That means that a lot of clients will simply go elsewhere and cause the domestic market to completely dry up, hurting us and hurting the workers,” said an anonymous sex trade executive. “The younger workers still make good coin but there is limited demand for them and inevitably we are going to run that well dry. They will gain a lot of experience which will help in the long run but by then the demand for our product might be gone. We need to act now to improve the quality for the good of the industry as a whole.”

Though many solutions have been proposed the most likely is a large scale training program which all women, save the very young, will have to pass before being put into the field.

“We wouldn’t want the younger workers, say anyone under 15 years old or so, being too used. Part of their appeal is their lack of experience. For anyone over that age though they need to be trained properly so that men do not feel as though they are wasting their money. It’s essential for our industry to survive,” continued the executive. “We have to realize that there are so many options out there that we simply cannot allow our business to overtaken by less than scrupulous employers looking to make a quick buck. For the future good of Iraq we must change the way we are doing business.”

Officials also noted that in order to expand outside the country’s borders the brand’s image needs to be drastically improved.

“Generally when people think of prostitution they think of Eastern Europe. Those countries have the natural gift of quality of production and lots and lots of experience, both of which have served them very well on the world stage. Outside that competition, Iraq’s general reputation in the world is working against it meaning they will have to work extra hard to make a dent,” said Scrape TV Business analyst Ken Green. “Sure, they will have some success because of the novelty of it but inevitably that will wane once people start to realize that the quality just isn’t there.”

Growing strength in the Iran is also cited as a major threat to the Iraqi industry.

Emil Uliya, International Correspondent

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Iraq's war on women

Lesley Abdela

Violence and intimidation against women are escalating across Iraq. The world’s commitment is needed to halt this assault on human and democratic rights, says Lesley Abdela.

About the author

Lesley Abdela is a journalist and campaigner for women’s equality.

Just as Iraqi women were anticipating a new era of democracy and freedom, a wave of intimidation by extremist groups has arisen to crush their hopes. Violent oppression of women is spreading across Iraq, a weapon of mass mental and physical destruction. And yet there is silence from world leaders, religious leaders, politicians and the media.

Insurgents and religious extremists use rape, acid and assassination to force Iraqi women to wear the veil – the symbol of submission, first signal of further repression to come. Many Iraqi women have never worn the scarf. Now, dead bodies of girls and women are found in rivers and on waste ground with a veil tied around the head, as a message.

As well as unveiled women, key targets are those who wear make-up, who are well educated and in the professions, and who work with organisations connected with the coalition forces.

Political Islamists target universities in particular. A male university professor told me about a bright, highly intelligent young student from Babylon University, Hilla south of Baghdad. She had never worn the scarf. Despite death threats to compel her to wear it, she refused to do so and continued to attend university. She was raped and murdered. The professor spoke of the mess made of her body. He has since told his daughter she must either wear a scarf or leave university. He doesn’t want her to wear the scarf nor does he want her to leave university, but he is terrified for her life.

It is clear what the Islamic fundamentalist men want for women. Using the will of Allah as cover, they pursue women’s conformity to almost any interpretation of the Qu’ran. They demand women’s submission to any male authority. Women are to lead lives without voices, as the social, political and economic inferiors of men, even of 12-year-old boys.

Competing futures

It was not always like this. In the pre-Saddam period, women had opportunities for limited social progress. In 1948, Iraq had been one of the first countries in the middle east to have a woman judge; in 1959, Nazila al-Dulaima (of the Iraqi Communist party) became one of the first female government ministers in the Arabian peninsula. Even under Saddam’s regime, women were free to choose whether to wear western-style dress and make-up or the black abaya. Many wore western dress in their jobs for government departments and in schools and universities.

Indeed, when the Ba’ath Party took control in 1968, one of its proclaimed goals was equality of men and women. Women’s inclusion was a key component of the social revolution. Women were given the right to vote, receive an education, and work outside the home. Education was mandatory for both girls and boys up to the age of 16. Women were strongly encouraged to attend universities and acquire professional skills.

In 1970 the Ba’athists passed a new constitution in which women and men were made – at least nominally – equal before the law. Women’s rights in the political and economic spheres expanded, though family law, which was based on Islamic law, continued to favour men.

The ferocious repression of political dissent under the Saddam Hussein regime, which consolidated its rule, fell on women and men equally, but particular laws (such as Law 101) – under which (alleged) prostitution was punishable by death – impacted particularly on women. Hundreds of women dissidents and the partners, mothers, sisters and daughters of male dissidents were branded prostitutes and beheaded.

The need for women to play a central role in the workforce during the exodus of men to fight in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88 drew women into formerly male-dominated positions, such as career military officers, oil-project designers, and construction supervisors, scientists and engineers, doctors, accountants and jobs in general administration. In 1989, 27 women were elected to Iraq’s 250-seat national assembly – at 10.8%, a higher ratio than the British House of Commons had at the time, with 41 women out of 650 seats (6.3%).

A new phase opened when Saddam’s statue was forced to the ground after the three-week conflict, in April 2003. At that point, Iraqi women’s hopes for freedom and democracy soared. From September 2003 to February 2004, I was in the populous south-central province, working with women’s associations and human-rights groups in Hilla, Karbala, Diwaniya and al-Kut. I ran workshops on democracy and human rights, and attended conferences in Babylon University, Baghdad and Basra alongside women from all over Iraq.

Iraqi women, encouraged by the declarations of George W Bush and Tony Blair, said they wanted to learn how to participate in democracy; they wanted at least 50% representation at all levels of government – local and national; they wanted 50% representation on any council deciding on the new constitution. Plus they wanted women’s human rights and equal opportunities enshrined in the new constitution that Iraq’s political representatives were to draft.

Universal intimidation, separate laws?

More than a year on, prospects are bleaker. Attacks have now expanded from certain geographic locations to the whole country. They have also spread to non-Muslim women. A report by Sahar al-Haideri and Wa’ad Ibraheem for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting tells the story of Christian lawyer Ishaq in Mosul, who received the threat, “wear the veil or face death”. To reinforce the warning, a group of men approached Ishaq on the street on her way to work and threw acid in her face.

Attacks like this have frightened thousands of Christian women into wearing the veil. Similar attacks and threats have forced a number of women in the northern city of Mosul to give up paid work or to make sure they are accompanied to work by a brother, a male driver or a guard. Women have begun to fear wearing make-up. A woman who owned a beauty salon closed it down after receiving threats.

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) was ratified by the UN general assembly in 1979. By July 2005, 180 countries had acceded to it and become “states parties”.

On 26 June 2005, I took part in a conference called “Our Constitution, Our Future”. Organised by the international NGO Women for Women and judiciously situated outside Iraq, on the Jordanian shores of the Dead Sea, it focused on how best to replace restrictive laws and practices so the new constitution conforms to international agreements, particularly the jewel in the crown, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw). Around 60 Iraqi men and women parliamentarians, academics, activists and members of the drafting committee for the constitution risked their lives to attend

The division was clear even at the conference: progressive women and men want a secular constitution. More extreme religious groups (which include women) want Islamic Shar law

A parallel legal system, in which citizens can opt either for religious or civil law, is one potential compromise. This would not be a unique and untried solution: in Lebanon Shi’a women have different rights from Christian women, Sunni women from Shi’a and Christians; Palestinians in Israel can choose to go to the civil court or to the Shari’a court.

On my return to Sussex, England, from the conference, I found emails waiting for me from Iraqi women, many of whom I know from my time in Iraq conducting advocacy, democracy and leadership courses and helping to start up women’s associations. Their messages describe escalating assassinations and violence conducted by insurgents against women. Attacks take place with impunity. In some cases the police are thought to be implicated.

Not a women’s issue

Women make up perhaps 60% of Iraq’s population after the Iran-Iraq war and the slaughter of perceived opponents by Saddam and his entourage. What can be done about this “black death” spreading among Iraq’s women?

The violence against women taking place in Iraq is not a so-called women’s issue. The perpetrators are men. The majority of people holding the reins of power in Iraq and the majority of leaders in the international community are men. How can men and women talk about democracy and human rights and somehow treat these atrocities as a side issue?

Iraqi women want the world to know what is happening – in detail. Iraqi women want the United Nations, and especially Muslim religious leaders worldwide, to call for specific action to prevent the escalating targeted assassinations of Muslim and Christian women. They want the cowardly perpetrators punished.

The challenge for men and women committed to democracy and human rights is to trigger a campaign of commitment from the world on the scale of “Make Poverty History”, to make murder and violence against women in Iraq (and the world) history, and to punish the perpetrators. To quote the suffragette slogan: Iraqi women need deeds not words. And they need them now.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Iraq: Women's rights in danger

Iraq author says status of women has deteriorated since 2003 US-led invasion.

Prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq, women working in the public and government sectors were entitled to receive a year's maternity leave under family laws enforced by the former Saddam Hussein leadership.

In the seven years since the US-led invasion which ousted Saddam, however, maternity leave has been cut to six months.

Since the Personal Status Law was enacted on July 14, 1958, when Iraqis overthrew the British-installed monarchy, Iraqi women have enjoyed many of the rights that Western women do.

But the statutes governing the status of women since 1958 have been replaced with Article 2 of the new Iraqi Constitution, which states that "Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation."

Sub-head A says "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." Under this Article the interpretation of women's rights is left to religious leaders.

Islamic governance

Yanar Mohammed, a women's rights campaigner in Iraq, believes that the US has "let go of women's rights" in the war-ravaged country.

"Political Islamic groups have taken southern Iraq, are fully in power there, and are using the financial support of Iran to recruit troops and allies," she says.

"The financial and political support from Iran is why the Iraqis in the south accept this, not because the Iraqi people want Islamic law."

According to the post-2003 Iraqi constitution, parliament should be comprised of no less than 25 per cent female candidates. As a result, the amended electoral law of December 2009 stipulated that parliament should comprise 82 female representatives.

Each party and coalition list must ensure that 25 per cent of its nominated candidates are women. However, the women's quota has not been filled since 2005 and as a result, the elections commission said "special measures" must be implemented to ensure the quota is met.

Women's rights groups in Iraq and abroad have complained that the Iraqi parliament has not provided information on what the measures involve or how it would go about implementing them.

According to Maha Sabria, a professor of political science at Al-Nahrain University in Baghdad, women members of parliament "stand up to defend their party in the parliament, not for women's rights".

Lack of infrastructure

Sabria also makes a direct link between the deteriorated status of women in the country to the lack of infrastructure, political and economic stability, and security. She believes that women bear a "double burden" as they have lost many of their freedoms due to, and under, the US occupation.

"The violation of women's rights [is] part of the violation of the rights of all Iraqis," she says.

"More men are now under the weight of detention, so now women bear the entire burden of the family and are obliged to provide full support to the families and children. At the same time, women do not have freedom of movement because of the deteriorated security conditions and because of abductions of women and children by criminal gangs."

Women, she says, are also now under pressure to marry at a younger age in the hope that a husband (including his family and tribal affiliations) will bring added security.

Sabria says that the abduction of women "did not exist prior to the occupation. We find that women lost their right to learn and their right to a free and normal life, so Iraqi women are struggling with oppression and denial of all their rights, more than ever before."

"Tribal, backward laws"

Since 2003, many Iraqis sought refuge in the tried and tested security offered by tribal affiliations and allegiances.

As contemporary Iraqi society fell apart in the face of lawlessness, abductions, revenge killings and overall lack of security, the tribal system offered both refuge and order.

Some Iraqis believe that the decline in the modern and secular standard of living since 2003 propelled the social dynamic back by several decades.

"The real ruler in Iraq now is the rule of old traditions and tribal, backward laws," Sabria says.

"The biggest problem is that more women in Iraq are unaware of their rights because of the backwardness and ignorance prevailing in Iraqi society today."

Fleeing Iraq

Compounding the severity of the situation is the fact that many women also fled their homes because their husbands were arbitrarily arrested by occupation forces or government security personnel. A household without a male figure became far more vulnerable since 2003. Women sought refuge with relatives and failing to do so fled to Syria or Jordan.

According to United Nations estimates, more than four million Iraqis have been displaced in the past seven years, including approximately 2.8 million registered as internally displaced persons.

Many live as refugees mainly in neighbouring countries, according to a report by Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Brookings Institution-University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement.

The report, titled, Going Home? Prospects and Pitfalls For Large-Scale Return Of Iraqis, says most displaced Iraqi women are reluctant to return home because of continuing uncertainties.

Obstacles to repatriation

For its part, the Washington-based Refugees International (RI) says in another report - Iraqi Refugees: Women's Rights and Security Critical to Return - that "Iraqi women will resist returning home, even if conditions improve in Iraq, if there is no focus on securing their rights as women and assuring their personal security and their families' well-being".

The RI report covered internally displaced women in Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region and female refugees in Syria. "Not one woman interviewed by RI indicated her intention to return," the report says.

"This tent is more comfortable than a palace in Baghdad; my family is safe here," a displaced woman in northern Iraq told RI.

The situation continues to be challenging for women within Iraq. Yanar Mohammed believes the constitution neither protects women nor ensures their basic rights. She blames the US for abdicating its responsibility to help develop a pluralistic democracy in Iraq.

"I am an employee, and everyday go to my work place, and the biggest challenge for me and all the suffering Iraqis is the roads are closed and you feel you are a person without rights, without respect," a 35-year-old government employee, who asked to be referred to as Iman, said.

"To what extent has this improved my security," she asked. "We have better salaries now, but how can women live with no security? How can we enjoy our rights if there is no safe place to go, for rest and recreation and living?"

Dahr Jamail is an independent American journalist who reported from Iraq for eight months in 2003-2004. He is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq.

Last Modified: 20 Mar 2010 09:19

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The British Military in Iraq : A Legacy of War Crimes and Atrocities

by Felicity Arbuthnot

“Mine is the first generation able to contemplate the possibility that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war.” (Tony Blair, speech as newly elected Prime Minister, 1997.)

August is seemingly Spotlight on Illegal Invasion month. President Obama has made his Mission-Lost-Cause speech about US., Iraq fantasy "withdrawal" - leaving behind 50,000 troops, perhaps 50,000 mercenaries, and some have suggested 100,000 "advisors."

In context: "Last month, the Congressional Research Service reported that the Department of Defense workforce has 19 percent more contractors (207,600) than uniformed personnel ... in Iraq and Afghanistan, making these wars ... the most outsourced and privatized in US history. Worse, the oversight of contractors will rest with other contractors. As has been the case in Afghanistan, contractors will be sought to provide "operations-center monitoring of private security contractors (PSCs) as well as PSC inspection and accountability services."(1)

Tony "I would do it again" Blair, announced, on 16th August, he is to give his entire £4.6 million advance on his book: "My Journey", to the Royal British Legion, for support of British soldiers in need. As the ungracious calls for his "journey" to be to The Hague get louder - with some suggesting a far less civilized ordeal - it seems timely to assess British "achievements" in Iraq.

The British, of course, having come in flying the St George's flag on their vehicles (the Crusaders' flag) slithered out of Basra city, under cover of darkness, to hunker down at the fortified airport, some distance outside the town, in September 2007, much as US units did from other parts of Iraq, last week, fleeing in the night, over the border to Kuwait.

UK Forces, who had also illegally squatted in Basra Palace, as did their US counterparts in palaces throughout the country, taking over Iraq's cultural properties, additionally pillaging them, in defiance of the 1954 and 1977 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. To use such buildings in support of military effort or as a command centre is specifically prohibited. The full extent of pillaging is unlikely to ever be documented, since no one was guarding the guards. An early British example was the theft of a statue of Saddam Hussein from Basra, for which the British tax payer paid the transport for its journey to the Unit's base in southern England.

Basra Palace was, however, handed back, after four and a half years, in a furtive ceremony at I a.m., local time. Most of the troops had already left, creeping out, to head for the desert road to the airport, from 10 p.m.

Alleged British atrocities began as Iraq had barely been declared "liberated." One of their first recorded acts (after securing Basra oil installations) was less than a month after the invasion, in May 2003, when fifteen year old Ahmed Jaber Karheem, drowned, after allegedly being forced in to a canal in the former "Venice of the Middle East", by Guardsmen Martin McGing, Joseph McCleary and Colour Sergeant Carle Selman.

The alleged action was to "teach him a lesson", for suspected looting. Ahmed Jaber could not swim. In a case which took three years to come to court, Guarsdman McCleary whinged that: "We were told to put looters in the canal. I was the lowest rank and we were told we weren't paid to think. Just follow orders. I don't know why the army went ahead with the prosecution ... We were scapegoats." Nuremberg's Principles apparently now irrelevant, and Iraqi lives presumably being cheap, they were acquitted.

Whilst there was undisputedly looting of food after the invasion, the population of Basra were almost entirely reliant on the government distributed rations. The British army "secured" the food warehouses, but distributed none.

Children were begging for any sustenance and for water, throughout the south, in a near famine situation for many. So people looted. No doubt the opportunist joined the desperate, but the situation created by the food-secure occcupiers, was shameful. Looters were also shot by troops. Fathers, brothers, sons, faced death for trying to feed their families, or to make a bit of money in the reigning, invasion-generated, chaos.

When the British finally requested a shipment of water for the desperate population, delivered by the unfortunately named naval ship, "Sir Galahad", they called in tankers, rather than deliver themselves. The water filled the tankers - to be contaminated with whatever it had previously transported - and was sold to those who could afford to buy. It is not known whether members of Her Majesty's navy or army, also profited from this nice little earner.

The canal drowning Court case was finally heard in June 2006. That month, the army was being accused of shooting dead a thirteen year old, in a crowd accused of throwing stones.

Casual killing started early in the invasion. Corporal Russ Aston, who later died in an assault on a police station in Al Majar, wrote, in March 2003 : " I've shot 4-5 Iraqis and one of them were quite young, about 14-15 ... I felt bad at the time, but I'm OK now." In a call to his mother he reportedly said: "It's just killing for killing's sake out here ... I don't know how I am going to cope with what I've seen." (2)

A colleague talked of being on a night patrol and: "this f… flip flop had come out", so he shot him dead. According to Amnesty, Wa'el Rahim Jabar: ".. was walking along the main street, with a Kalashnikov rifle slung over his right shoulder, accompanied by two (unarmed) friends", it was dark, they did not realise there was a British patrol near by and he was shot in the chest and neck and killed instantly.

Carrying an ancient family weapon was a norm in rural areas, which had often become increasingly dangerous, even before the invasion, due often to embargo-generated desperation or criminality.

Iraqis were referred to by Britain's "boys", as: "stinking Arabs,", "yip-yaps", towel-heads", "flip-flops", and "crusties." Beautiful, battered Basra, where very small children sold fruits they had picked themselves, from the earliest light, along the Corniche, was referred to as a "viper's nest", by Major General Brims.

Aston's colleague, Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, who was also to die at Al Majar, wrote home, with excitement, of capturing three: "Ba'ath Party members." Ignorance clearly reigned. It was near impossible to get work in Iraq, during Saddam Hussein's leadership, without signing up, whatever the individual's views on Ba'athism (pan-Arabism.) "I had them lying on the floor (of a vehicle) handcuffs, sandbags on their heads and my shooter pointing straight at their heads ..." So much for the Geneva Convention.

It is not known whether two of those, were the men, arrested by Hamilton-Jewell in March 2003, accused, but never tried by the British, held in solitary confinement, allegedly subject to sleep deprivation, extreme heat, arbitrary body searches and physical abuse. A full three years after they were arrested, they were accused of the deaths of two British soldiers, and finally handed over to the Iraqi authorities for trial in 2008, at risk of torture and hanging.

In March 2010, due to the tireless work of Phil Shiner, of the UK's Birmingham based Public Interest lawyers, the two were unanimously awarded compensation for their: "mental suffering, fear of execution (amounting to) inhuman treatment", by the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg. The British government and Foreign Office came in for some salutary criticism.

Just after the US-dominated, UN Security Council, approved the US and UK having interim control of Iraq, on 22nd May 2003, the deliverer of the "fine document" of fictional claims - cited by Colin Powell, at the UN, to justify the invasion - Attorney Anthony Blair, pitched up in Basra, the first "coalition" leader to visit troops.

The: "minimum loss of civilian life", their superb restraint, was now: "famous around the world .. " he said. The troops actions were, he continued: " ... a model of how armed forces anywhere in the world should conduct themselves ...".

By this time, the family of eleven year old Memmon Salam al-Maliki, had been looking for him for three weeks. On the 29th April 2003, Memmon was injured by unexploded munitions abandoned by the British, near his Basra home, which locals had begged them to remove, piles scattered everywhere. He lost one hand, fingers of the other and injured his right eye. Picked up by a passing British patrol, it seems he was given first aid, then transferred to the British base hospital at Shuaiba. Memmon was among numbers of children reportedly injured by this lethal, casually abandoned legacy. His parents have not seen him since the British army's intervention.

The British in Basra, told his father he had been transferred to an American military hospital in Kuwait. They had, apparently, neither documentation, or knowledge of the location of the hospital. Without his parents knowledge and permission, they seemingly admit that Memmon was transferred, across an international border, to another country - and vanished. The US authorities, however, deny all knowledge of him or any paper trail. Seven years later, his family are still looking, still distraught.

In their last letter from the Ministry of Defence, dated October 2005, the department's chief claims officer told their lawyer that the British consulate in Basra had also failed to locate the boy. "I am sorry to say that the subsequent investigation was inconclusive and the whereabouts of your client's son remain unknown, following his transfer to an American field hospital in Kuwait", according to papers seen by the (London) Guardian

The British Ministry of Defence: "began to regard the family's appeals as claims for compensation", expressing sympathy, but denying all liability. Seven and a half years later, Liam Fox, Britain's current Defence Minister - latest in a woeful bunch - has ordered: "an urgent enquiry."

Perhaps the most detailed account of the treatment of Iraqis by the British forces can be found in the legal Inquiry (3) in to the death of Baha Mousa (26) a receptionist at Basra's Haitham Hotel. The father of two, whose 22 year old wife had recently died of cancer, was arrested with nine others, on 14th September 2003, by personnel of the 1st Battalion, The Queen's Lancashire Regiment. Two days later he was dead, with "at least" ninety three injuries to his body, including fractured ribs and a broken nose.

A post-mortem found he had suffered cardio-respiratory arrest, i.e., : he had been asphyxiated. When his father Daoud Mousa, a Colonel in the Basra Police Force, saw the state of his son's body, "horrified", he burst in to tears. Light shone in the darkest places, again, the result of the deceptively mildly mannered, bull terrier-like lawyer, Phil Shiner.(4) Shiner is currently acting for seventy Iraqis claiming torture and mistreatment by British soldiers. His legal practise is not alone.

A former fellow detainee with Baha Mousa alleged, at London's High Court, that soldiers had competed to see who could kick them the furthest. Another survivor, Kifa Taha al-Mutari, in a witness statement, said he and others were "beaten, hooded and our hands were wired."

Hooding was deemed to constitute torture, by the United Nations Committee Against Torture in 1997, a fact brought to the attention of the relevant British personnel in Basra by 4th April 2003. Baha Mousa was held hooded for over twenty three hours. (See 3 .) Britain is both a signatory to the UN Commission and banned hooding under domestic law in the 1970's.

Whilst looters could be shot, the Inquiry transcript shows some questionable commandeering by the liberators. "The first arrest operation had yielded three Ba'athists who had 11 million dinars in three large bags in their house. Whilst I was keen to follow Geneva Convention rules and allow them to take this with them to the interrogation centre, I decided I could borrow a few thousand for use in the local market -- to demonstrate an element of trust and willingness to restore normality!"

Iraqis know instability, and in times of turmoil, expecting looting, all cash and life's savings are removed from banks and taken home for safer keeping. Three bags may well have represented all the three men had, equivalent of a few thousand pounds, to keep them and their families for however long the chaos lasted.

At the Al Haitham Hotel, as well as rounding up Mr Mousa and his colleagues, Britain's finest, reportedly, rounded up the contents of the safe.

In another incident, is was recorded that : "He was interrogated along with his associates ... after some very disconcerting 'conditioning.' Marines bashed corrugated iron with sticks for several hours. This was to maintain the shock of capture and encourage them to talk. It became apparent just how frightened these men must have been, when two of them pissed themselves."

One young Iraqi was subject to a mock execution, by soldiers pouring what they said was petrol over him, from a jerry can, and threatening to set him alight. Another youth had a gun forced in to his mouth.

Deaths at the hands of the army, disputed by the Ministry of Defence, include twenty Iraqis, which witnesses claimed were taken to the British base at Amara, on 14th May 2004. Undisputed is that the next day twenty bodies were returned to their families. Injuries alleged included evidence of torture, mutilation, removal of eyes, and stab wounds, according to lawyers.

Further: "There were several instances of prisoners ... being injured after capture ... it rendered the prisoner unfit for tactical questioning." Quite some injuries, if they were rendered speechless, it is possible to speculate. Detainees were held in a "prisoner of war cage." Chillingly : "Prisoners should arrive .. 'bagged and tagged.' " (i.e.: hooded and handcuffed.) So much for the United Nations Committee on Torture.

In all, prisoner handling was cited as : "Abysmal" and : "Fundamentally flawed." Communication was problematical: they lacked interpreters.

Numerous claims, seemingly week on week, year on year, of British occupation inhumanity, include a twenty three years old security guard, Adil Abba Fadhil Mohammed, who alleges beating with rifle butts, kicking and sexual abuse by male and female soldiers, being made to strip, and being photographed by laughing male and female soldiers. Claims by others include rape, electrocution and sexual humiliation, descriptions of which, should carry a health warning.

Another claim is of the alleged torture and execution of sixty two year old Sabiha Khudur Talib, claimed by her son to be taken away by British soldiers, hit on her back with a rifle butt, and bundled in to a personnel carrier. Her body was found on Basra's al-Zubayr highway, in a British army body bag. Basra police describe: "traces of torture and a bullet wound to the abdomen." "The evidence points to a brutal murder ..", says Phil Shiner.

In October 2009, an army whistle-blower spoke to investigative reporter Donal MacIntyre, he had spent much of his career in the Royal Military Police Special Investigations Branch. He finally left believing that he was: "serving something that was party to covering up quite serious allegations of torture and murder", he commented.

"I've seen documentary evidence that there were incidents,
running in to the hundreds, involving death and serious injury to Iraqis. It is the actions of a few who have shown to be bad apples. But the system in so flawed, and some of the decision making has been so perverse, that it is fair to say that the barrel is probably rotten."

In 2009, when the British finally left Iraq, their Commanding Officer saluted their bravery and told them: "We have prepared the ground for continued success ... We leave knowing that Basra is a better place now than it was in 2003."

It takes, as ever, William Blum on Iraq, to cut through this and the rest of the delusional nonsense, including that from "Peace Envoy" Blair, and utterly unworthy Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Obama, this week. Britain and America:

"... killed wantonly, tortured ... the people of that unhappy land have lost everything — their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women's rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives ...

More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile ... The air, soil, water, blood and genes drenched with depleted uranium ... the most awful birth defects ... unexploded cluster bombs lie in wait for children to pick them up ... a river of blood runs alongside the Euphrates and Tigris ... through a country that may never be put back together again." (5)