Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Tragedy of an Afghan Taxi Driver

"To the country boys here, if you're a different nationality, a different race, you're sub-human. That's the way that girls like Lynndie are raised ... Tormenting Iraqis, in her mind, would be no different from shooting a turkey. Every season here you're hunting something. Over there, they're hunting Iraqis."
- Colleen Kesner, a resident from hometown of Lynndie England, of Abu Ghraib notoriety

Dilawar was a taxi driver in Afghanistan. Arrested by the US military, he was beaten on his legs until he couldn’t stand anymore. This ocurred at the USAF Bagram air base, a US interrogation centre in Afghanistan notorious for torturing prisoners.

Following a rocket attack on the base, while he was in prison, he was nevertheless hauled into the interrogation room for another session, but by then his legs were bouncing uncontrollably and his hands were numb. He had been chained by his wrists to the ceiling of his cell for much of the previous four days.

When Dilawar asked for a drink of water, a 21-year old interrogator, Specialist Joshua Claus (obviously no relation of Father Christmas) concocted a form of mental torture to deny the prisoner that, enjoying Dilawar’s agony as the water was either pouring onto the prisoner’s body or squirted into his face.

A guard tried to force Dilawar to his knees, but his legs, pummelled by US military guards for several days, could no longer bend.

After the interrogation Dilawar was sent back to his cell, and chained to the ceiling. Several hours passed before a doctor saw Dilawar. By then he was stiff dead.

And the cruellest and most sad and unjust ending to this atrocity, many months before the official investigation even eventuated - and only after persistent report of torture including the Abu Ghraib scandal -
most of the interrogators at Bagram believed Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the US base at the wrong time.

report into Dilawar’s death at the USAF base at Bagram contains graphic details of widespread abuse of detainees in Afghanistan carried out by young and poorly trained soldiers, including females like Lynndie England (do read this link), except they made England look like Mother Teresa.

The torture was not just related to extracting information, but involved punishment (whatever that means) and a la
Kempeitai, alleviating the US soldiers' boredom or satiating their cruelty.

Though frequently reported to US officials, the incidents of prisoner abuse at Bagram were
casually dismissed by them as isolated problems that had already been thoroughly investigated. Human Rights Watch reports that nine detainees in Afghanistan have died in US custody, including four cases already determined to be murder or manslaughter.

The dead cannot cry out for justice; it is a duty of the living to do so for them.

- Lois McMaster Bujold

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