“We Asked for Shade but the Soldiers Refused”

November 7th, 2003 - by admin

by Testimony of an Iraqi Minor Imprisoned by US Forces / Christian Peace Team –

The following statement was recorded by Christian Peace Fellowship (CPT) members Le Anne Clausen and David Milne in a neighborhood heavily affected by US house raids in Baghdad. The family has asked that the 16 year old youth who gave the testimony not be identified because his relatives are still detained.,


“At 2:30am, US troops came to our house, and ordered our entire family outside. They ransacked the house searching for something, but they didn’t tell us what they wanted. They broke the locks to our cabinet [a large storage chest and display case along one wall of the front room] and threw the contents onto the floor, even though our father gave them the cabinet key so they wouldn’t have to do this. They took our money and a gold wedding necklace belonging to my mother. My father, cousin, older brother, and I were tied and taken away. We were not told why we were being taken.

“We were taken to the soldier’s military base at a palace within this district and kept in a small dark room. We were tied at our wrists with plastic ties behind our backs the entire night. In the morning, we were put out into the sunlight, as a type of punishment. The soldiers were verbally abusive towards us. We asked for shade, but the soldiers refused. We were squatting in the sun all day. [Temperatures at the time were 110-120F]. When I was taken, I was only wearing my underwear because I was sleeping. I was embarrassed. These were my only clothes during the time I was in custody.

“The first day, our hands were still tied behind our back with the plastic ties. Because of this, we were unable to drink any water. We explained this to the soldiers, and they refused to re-tie us so we could drink. We asked if just one of us could be re-tied with his hands in front of him so that he could help the rest of us to drink. The soldiers refused. The soldiers re-tied us with the plastic ties in front of us on the next day.

“I Asked for Water. He Beat Me”
“The water they gave us for drinking was also kept out in the sun with us. This way it was too hot to drink. Another day I asked a soldier for water, because I hadn’t had anything to drink for the entire day in the sun. He beat me on my back and chest, while another soldier kicked me in the back. Both were verbally abusive towards me during the beating.

“I was forced once to drink a strange kind of juice. I didn’t like it, so I said, ‘no, thank you.’ The soldiers then put the bottle in my mouth and forced me to swallow all of it.

“We were treated like animals. The soldiers would grab us by the head and shove us in the direction they wanted us to move. When we were beaten, I couldn’t distinguish when it was from a baton and when it was with fists. We were forced to squat much of the time.

“One night my 18-year-old brother and I were kept in an open-air passageway, but we didn’t know how large it was because we were blindfolded. We heard a tank approaching us. It was so close, the ground was shaking beneath us. The sound was deafening. We were screaming to each other and the guards, we were sure we would be run over and executed. Then the tank passed.”

[The son asked his mother to leave the room so he can tell the CPTers something privately].

“My brother asked for some water. The guard gagged him and began beating him around his mouth until blood started flowing from his mouth. My brother screamed in pain. We also screamed in protest, and to encourage him to scream so they would stop this abuse. We were then beaten also, for advising him to scream. We were beaten in the neck, back, and behind.” [The boy demonstrated how and where he was beaten. He indicated that his buttocks were held apart and he was kicked in the anus]. “It is because of this beating that my father is now suffering from a heart condition.”

“I Was Humiliated”
“I was released wearing only my underwear and forced to walk back to my home in broad daylight. I was humiliated. Also, everyone thought from my dress that I had been caught stealing. I was also badly sunburned from my time in detention without shade.

“The officers told me upon my release, “Don’t tell anyone about what happened here, or we’ll come pick you up again.” I was released at 3pm, and told to come back at 4pm to care for the other detainees-if they wanted clothes or food, I was to get these things for them. I protested, saying, “This is not my duty.” A woman soldier screamed at me, “Shut up!

Shut up!” I left, and didn’t return until the next day. At that time, the soldiers refused to let me into the base. I returned home.

“I am in shock now from this treatment, and I can never forget it until I die. When I got out, I behaved as though I was crazy, like I was lost.”

The boy’s mother told the CPT workers, “When my son first came home, he was abnormal. We couldn’t control him, he was completely changed. He has nightmares every night, and wakes up shaking and screaming.”

A friend of the family, who was present during CPT’s interview with the family, is a local human rights activist and attended a human rights conference organized by the Coalition Provisional Authority one month earlier. He said he raised this case with the sponsoring officials. The CPA sponsoring officials warned him not to discuss cases like these when the conference was over. The officials did not give any reason for their order.

The US “Has a Hypocritical Policy”
The mother said, “The US has a hypocritical policy. They speak all the time about human rights, but they don’t believe in it themselves. “Since this happened, I am lost now. I don’t know what I can do.”

The family feels that the detentions were arbitrary. No soldier has returned to their home to tell them why they have been arrested or what they were searching for on the night the soldiers broke into their home.

No receipts were issued for the money and jewelry confiscated and it is unlikely they will ever get these back, or receive compensation for the broken furniture. The family was only able to get information about their relatives’ locations through lists provided by Christian Peacemaker Teams working with the mosque in their district. The three detained relatives still remain incarcerated at various prison camps throughout Iraq.