The ‘Commission for Detainees’ Accuses the Multinational Force of Stalling the Release of Prisoners of Opinion

[Translated by Gilbert Achcar]


Baghdad — The four-member commission formed by the [majority] “United Iraqi Alliance” for the release of Iraqi detainees said that the multinational forces “stall their release and refuse to refer their cases to [Iraqi] justice, under the pretext that it [the Iraqi government] is ‘not competent.’ They refuse to charge the majority of the detainees who are prisoners of opinion, arrested for their patriotic stance, which means that their practice does not differ from that of the previous [Baathist] regime.”


Falah Hassan Shneishel MP, a member of the commission, said that “the political representative of the US embassy in Baghdad promised repeatedly to contact his superiors in order to settle the issue of the detainees, without any result.” He explained that the commission demanded that the cases of the detainees be referred to Iraqi justice and that they be charged so that they could be tried, but “the multinational forces rejected the demand.” He added that “the commission has also demanded the release of women and children detained in the occupation’s prisons, but this demand was also rejected.” He made it clear that the demands concern the release of prisoners of opinion and patriotic stances, and do not include those who are involved in violent actions against civilians. The MP maintained that “the stalling and temporizing that US forces have practiced went so far as refusing to allow the prisoners’ relatives, or the judicial committee formed to follow the matter, to visit the detainees to check their situation and their cases.” He added: “The way US forces behave has become the continuation of the way the previous [Baathist] regime used to deal with political prisoners, a fact that increases the hatred toward these forces.”


The MP said that the number of detainees belonging to [Muqtada] al-Sadr’s Current reached 350 and that their names were given to the Iraqi Government, affirming that the majority of them were arrested “preventively and they have not been charged with any accusation until now.” He added that the four-member commission has asked the Government, in a memorandum given to the National Assembly, to apply article 15 of the Transitional Administrative Law which stipulates that “nobody can be arrested for more than 24 hours without being charged” and that “no one can be arrested for their religious or political opinions.” He asserted that the detainees belonging to [al-Sadr's] Current are “prisoners of opinion and patriotic stances” and fall therefore under the article referred to, adding that they are presently detained in the prisons of “Buka” in Basra, “Badush” in Mosul and “Abu-Ghraib” in Baghdad, and that the conditions of their detention are “very bad and harsh,” and that the Government should order their release.


Sheikh Muhammad Taqi al-Mawla, a member of the commission and a leader of the “Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq,” told Al-Hayat that the multinational forces detain in their prisons thousands of Iraqis, including many women and children, without charging them, and that the Government and the National Assembly are acting for their release.


[From Al-Hayat, May 29, 2005.]

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