The secretary-general of the Iraqi Islamic Party Ayad al-Samarrai is expressing renewed concerns about torture in Iraqi prisons, which are resulting in the death of many detainees.
Samarrai claims that Iraqis are being captured on a political, not criminal, basis and that security forces are detaining people, only to have their dead bodies over to their families hours after detention without providing any information on what happened.
The secretary-general also criticized the impunity allowed by the Iraqi parliament. The parliament, he said, “has not summoned any security official to investigate this torture and abuse taking place in prisons. Although there were many complaints about this matter, the Ministry of Human Rights has yet [to] get involved.”
These are not the first of such allegations. In January of this year, Iraq’s former prime minister, Ayad Allawi, accused current Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki of detaining and brutally torturing more than 1,000 political opponents in secret prisons and denying them access to legal counsel.
“Information has reached us that is beyond doubt regarding the brutal torture of our detainees in an attempt to extract false confessions from them,” Allawi wrote at the time.
Maliki’s turn towards dictatorship sharpened almost immediately after US 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.
But the Maliki government continues to receive enthusiastic US support in the form of billions of dollars a year in aid and tens of billions worth in military assistance. The New York Times revealed recently the US is trying to send small units of American troops back to Iraq, and the continued support of the Maliki regime is clearly being offered in an attempt to maintain leverage over Iraq – a far cry from the democracy promotion heralded by both the Bush and Obama administrations.