BAGHDAD (Xinhua) – “The Americans have nothing to do with human rights. It is a concept they use to seek interests,” said Bedu al-Hamad, a former Iraqi detainee who was jailed by the U.S. army for more than two years.
Al-Hamad, 59, who was head of the reconstruction committee of the Municipal Council of the town of Duluiyah, Salahuddin province, spent 26 months and 20 days in U.S. detention despite not having committed any crimes.
The town of Duluiyah is a symbol of resistance to U.S. occupation, where U.S. troops were confronted with countless attacks and ambushed by resistance groups in the town along the Tigris, especially in 2008 when the attacks reached their peak.
On August 21, 2008, U.S. troops accused al-Hamad of ‘supporting terrorism’ and arrested him, weeks after al-Hamad attended a meeting at the Municipal Council in Duluiyah.
Weeks later, al-Hamad was arrested and his journey began through the U.S. investigation and detention centers. He was transferred between six detention centers that lacked the most basic human rights.
According to a report called “costs of war” by Brown University, over 100,000 prisoners passed through the American-run detention system in Iraq, with most prisoners lacking effective methods to challenge their imprisonment.
Al-Hamad recalled when he was transported from Tikrit to Baghdad with other detainees, he was handcuffed and squatting in the helicopter, which caused damage to his back that lasted for years.
His suffering worsened a year after his arrest when the U.S. troops told al-Hamad that they had conclusive evidence that he had nothing to do with the accusation against him, but they continued to detain him for more than a year.
“One soldier told me that it has been proven to us with conclusive evidence that you are innocent, but you will continue your imprisonment,” said al-Hamad.
Al-Hamad, who currently works for a humanitarian organization, described life in the prison as hell, saying that “the food they (U.S. troops) provide is just food that keeps detainee alive,” and the visits by detainees’ families are very few, as he could not recognize his son during one of the visits due to his difficult psychological condition.
He added that one of the many horrific violations committed by U.S. troops was solitary confinement, when they shut a detainee in for a month, preventing him from seeing anyone, and exposed him to extreme winter cold or summer heat.
“The Americans were making the Iraqis torture each other, as they brought a detained policeman, and put him among the extremists. The militants tortured him, broke his hands and feet and tried to kill him, and this goes beyond violating human rights,” he said.
During the period of his detention, al-Hamad was not brought before a judge, nor was he allowed to seek a lawyer to defend him, which are the most basic rights of a detainee.
After being released, a nightmare kept haunting al-Hamad for more than a year due to the negative impact of torture on his psychological state -- he dreamt that U.S. troops were raiding his house, handcuffing him, and putting a black bag on his head, or he dreamt that the troops were arresting him again at a U.S. army checkpoint.
“I am convinced that human rights, freedom, and democracy are false American slogans that they use against anyone who opposes them,” he concluded.