Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s security forces have detained and brutally tortured more than 1,000 political opponents in secret prisons and denied them access to legal counsel, according to allegations by Iraq’s former prime minister.
Allawi also claims that Maliki aims to extract false confessions that implicate his political rivals and justify taking legal action against them. Some of the confessions obtained through torture claimed that Allawi plotted to foment violent unrest around the country.
“Information has reached us that is beyond doubt regarding the brutal torture of our detainees in an attempt to extract false confessions from them, confessions referring to the general secretary himself,” Allawi wrote President Jalal Talabani. “They are being made to confess that he has ordered armed demonstrators onto the streets to carry out violence.”
Maliki was accused of employing similar methods in his quest to detain the Sunni Vice President Tareq al Hashemi on trumped up charges. Hashemi fled and is believed to be in hiding in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
Maliki’s turn towards dictatorship sharpened almost immediately after U.S. occupation forces left in December. He has circumvented Parliament, consolidated illegitimate power in a long trend of quasi-dictatorial behavior, harshly cracked down on peaceful activism, harassed and even attacked journalists that were critical of his regime, and recently betrayed an agreement that would have limited his ability to marginalize his Sunni rivals.
This has coincided with rising sectarian violence in Iraq, with dozens of deadly attacks between Sunni and Shia in the last weeks of December and throughout January. Allawi and many other prominent figures in the country have said Maliki is tearing the country apart, despite continuing to receive enthusiastic U.S. support.