Sonic Puke
It's all fun and games until somebody pokes out an eye

4/25/2003

Out of the darkness
More about the terrible tortures under Saddam's evil regime...

(Observer) Iraq is giving up its secrets. Slowly and fearfully - because they are not convinced Saddam has gone - the people are telling of the terror, the torture, and the friends and family who disappeared

Mohammed was Mustafa Kothair's favourite uncle. As a child, he would play with the young Mustafa on the dusty village streets of Shuaba. Perhaps the link was that they looked almost identical, both skinny, with long, narrow faces. And Mohammed was kind. He would always give his nephew sweets and toys.
Then Mohammed disappeared. He had refused to join the Iraqi army in 1988. He had been arrested and taken to Basra, then to Baghdad. A month later word was sent to Mustafa's mother that he had been executed. She took Mustafa on the long journey north to collect the body.

When they got to the central police station, Mohammed's body lay covered in a sheet among a score of other mangled, brutalised corpses. Uncaring guards smoked cigarettes as keening relatives sifted through the remains. Blood covered the floor as Mustafa and his mother gingerly lifted the sheets until they saw Mohammed's face. 'My mother just cried and cried,' Mustafa said.

His killers had not not treated his body with the respect due to a Muslim. It had already been several days since he had been killed. 'They had done nothing to prepare his body, not even washed it. They just slaughtered him. They had not treated him as a Muslim should treat another Muslim,' Mustafa said.

There were five bullet holes in Mohammed's chest, grim reminders of the accuracy of the executioner's machine gun. But the final insult was to come. Mohammed's family had to pay for the ammunition, five dinars per bullet. Weeping, Mustafa's mother handed over 25 dinars.

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Kassim, 28, was jailed for not wanting to join a frontline military unit. He wanted to keep his job as a bus driver on a military base. His punishment for speaking his mind was three years in jail. In the first month, three guards dragged him out of his cell and held him down on the floor. He did not know what was happening as he felt the stabbing pain of needles across his back. Blood flowed over his skin. It was only later that he realised what had been done: the men had forcibly tattooed him. They had drawn a pair of hands in chains, a permanent reminder of his time in jail.

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In 1991, 25 young men from Shuaba were rounded up and accused of rebelling against the government. None returned. Others from Shuaba were killed openly. Those most vulnerable were religious men such as Shakur Balbur. A devout Shia, he prayed at the mosque often enough to get himself arrested in the brutal days of 1991. When his wife, Nathal, went to collect his body, she was horrified to see his torturers had electrocuted him . 'His skin looked like it had been set on fire. It was horrible.'

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If party officials felt any village was showing signs of dissent, they switched the power off. It would take days of begging to get it turned on again. Villagers cowered in the darkness of the night, fearing the arrival of militia troops bent on vengeful violence.

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