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General Topic Areas

Rendition (35)
legalProceedings (41)
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Coverup (48)
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Types of abuses performed by Americans

Use of dogs (11)
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Qala-i-Janghi massacre (20)

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Thamir Issawi (0)
Haydar Sabbar Abed (1)
Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri (1)
Jan Baz Khan (1)
Unnamed prisoners (42)
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Torture, rendition, and other abuses against captives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere

 
  

Project: Prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

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December 2-5, 2001

       The Special Forces officer who questioned him the day before ties Lindh's hands with rope and puts a hood over his head. Lindh is then driven back to Mazar-i-Sharif, where he is taken into a school building. For the next two to three days, Lindh will be kept blindfolded and bound in custody of the US military. He asks for the time of day, explaining that he needs to know for religious reasons. But he is told to shut up. US soldiers frequently call him “sh_tbag,” or “sh_thead.” He is fed military rations twice a day, which he feels is insufficient given his state of malnourishment. Requests for more food and more medical attention are refused. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] Throughout the week at the school, Lindh expresses concern about his bullet wound, which appears to be festering. On the first two days, he is visited twice by a Red Cross worker, who on December 3 gives him the opportunity to dictate a letter to his parents. It is faxed eight days later. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002] For the rest of his incarceration at Mazar-i-Sharif, the Red Cross workers are prevented from seeing Lindh. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

December 7-8, 2001

       US soldiers enter the school, blindfold Lindh, and take photographs of Lindh and themselves posing next to him. One soldier scrawls “sh_thead” across Lindh's blindfold and poses with him. Another soldier makes fun of his Islamic religion. Someone says Lindh is “going to hang” and another one that he wants to shoot him on the spot. They then put Lindh in a van and tie his hands with plastic handcuffs so tight they severely cut off the blood circulation. The scars and numbness that result from this treatment are still present months later. He is then put on a plane and flown to the US marine base Camp Rhino, seventy miles south of Kandahar. During the flight, Lindh screams because the pain in his hands have become unbearable. But his American guards refuse to loosen the cuffs. Immediately upon arrival at Camp Rhino, when the winter night has already fallen, US soldiers cut off all of Lindh's clothing. Wearing only his blindfold and shaking violently from the cold, Lindh is bound to a stretcher with heavy duct tape wrapped tightly around his chest, upper arms and ankles. In this position military personnel again take photographs of him. One photograph is later released by his attorneys and corroborates the described treatment. He is then placed, stretcher and all, in a metal shipping container. Twenty minutes later, a US marine begins to question him. [Sources: Proffer of facts in support of defendant's suppression motions submitted June 13, 2002]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh
          

January 17-21, 2002

       Already six days after the first detainees have arrived from Afghanistan, representatives from the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) visit Guantanamo. They meet with the prison commanders on January 21 and recommend a number of improvements. [Washington Post, 6/13/2004] The ICRC has noticed some restrictions on religious expression it objects to. During the first week of the prison's operation, praying according to Islamic custom is not allowed or is at least prevented. When someone calls out the call to prayers, or Azzan, according to Asif Iqbal, guards respond “by either silencing the person who was doing it, or, more frequently, play loud rock music to drown them out.” [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] Notwithstanding the intercession by the ICRC, religious freedoms apparently continue to be restricted, as Mohammed Saghir, a grey-bearded sawmill owner, will later recall. “In the first one-and-a-half months they wouldn't let us speak to anyone, wouldn't let us call for prayers or pray in the room,” Saghir says. “I tried to pray and four or five commandos came and they beat me up. If someone would try to make a call for prayer they would beat him up and gag him.” [The Guardian, 12/3/2003]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Saghir, Asif Iqbal
          

January 20, 2002

       At the Guantanamo detention facility, a Muslim chaplain is brought in to read prayers for the prisoners. But when he reads prayers for the first time, the prisoners are silent. According to Asif Iqbal, the prisoners have been punished so often for attempting to practice their religious traditions, they are “all uncertain as to whether we [are] allowed to participate. Nobody [knows] or [trusts] this individual and as a result” the chaplain prays alone. Each of the prisoners are soon provided with a copy of the Koran, but they are “kicked and thrown about by the guards and on occasion thrown in the buckets used for the toilets,” according to the Tipton Three. “This kept happening. When it happened it was always said to be an accident but it was a recurrent theme.” Iqbal says he believes that the “behavior of the guards towards our religious practices as well as the Koran was also, in my view, designed to cause us as much distress as possible.” [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni
          

January 24, 2002

       A five-page memo prepared by military officers at Guantanamo lists twenty-nine concerns that the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) raised during its visit earlier that month (see January 17-21, 2002). The memo lays out a decision by the detention commanders to provide detainees with items valued by Muslims: cloth for their Korans, daily prayer calls, and shorts for the shower. Detainees will also be told that the orange color of their jumpsuits does not signify a death sentence, which it traditionally does in some Middle Eastern countries. This has apparently not gone unnoticed by US officials. “The detainees think they are being taken to be shot,” the same or a different memo from the Pentagon says. “Should we continue not to tell them what is going on and keep them scared?” [Washington Post, 6/13/2004]
          

February 26, 2002-March 7, 2002

       Detainees being held at Guantanamo launch a hunger strike. Some reports say the direct cause is a guard who deliberately kicked a copy of the Koran. [The Guardian, 12/3/2003; The Mirror, 3/12/2004] Others say the reason is the fact that detainees are forbidden to wear head coverings, which Islamic tradition requires for prayer. Muhammad Ansar recalls: “At the camp, we were not allowed to say prayers. We couldn't cover our heads.” [New York Times, 6/21/2004] In this version, the conflict begins when guards at Guantanamo reportedly order “an inmate to remove a turban he ... fashioned from a sheet in violation of a camp rule to prevent detainees from concealing contraband.” Allegedly, the guards are not aware the man is praying when they forcefully remove his turban. A handful of prisoners respond the next day by starting a hunger strike. Two days later, on February 28, 194 prisoners join the strike by refusing their lunch, equaling about 70 percent of the prison population. In response to the strikes, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Michael R. Lehnert, the Commander of Military Police at Guantanamo, repeals the contested rule, but announces turbans will be checked periodically. Prisoner Ansar later says that, as a result of the strike, “Prayers were allowed ....” [New York Times, 6/21/2004] Nevertheless, 75 detainees still refuse lunch and dinner on Friday, and 85 refuse breakfast on Saturday. [CNN, 3/2/2002] Strikers are relocated to single cellblock where they can be more effectively monitored. [Reuters, 3/7/2002] According to a March 2 CNN report, six hunger striking prisoners are forced to take intravenous liquids after they are found to have become seriously dehydrated. [CNN, 3/2/2002] Reuters reports that by March 7, 18 men are in need of being fed intravenously and that force has been used to provide fluids to “at least two” of them. [Reuters, 3/7/2002] At this point, less than 50 are still participating. However, most of the strikers have been taking some food some of the time. Only three have refused to eat all of the time. [Reuters, 3/7/2002] The strike thus slowly fades out. Lehnert later admits that the removed turban was not the only cause for the hunger strike, and that detainees were also motivated by frustration about their indefinite detention and uncertainty regarding their possible charges. [CNN, 3/2/2002] He stresses, however, that the detainees were mostly interested in media coverage. Lt. Col. Cline claims that it's “their way of getting attention.” [Reuters, 3/7/2002]
People and organizations involved: Michael R. Lehnert, Bill Cline
          

June 2003-August 2003

       Abd al-Rahman, a minor official at the agriculture ministry in Baghdad, is taken into custody by Coalition Forces and held for three months during which time he is “beaten frequently, given shocks with an electric cattle-prod, and [has] one of his toenails prised off.” Rations are often laced with pork, which is forbidden to Muslims, and the area around his tent is infested with scorpions. [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004; The Sunday Times, 1/18/2004]
People and organizations involved: Abd al-Rahman
          


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