Friday, January 16, 2004

Jan. 16, 2004

CPT having some effect? Reports today are that US commanders are looking into allegations of mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq. Here's what the CPT has been doing to bring it to official attention:

Over At The Iraq Assistance Center
CPT Baghdad
January 14, 2004

The Iraqi Assistance Centre (IAC) is located in a modern convention centre in
Baghdad. The IAC is intended to be the place where Iraqi civilians can
come to find
solutions to problems relating to the US military occupation. Many Iraqis
have had
money and property confiscated by US soldiers during house raids. There is
no clear
and simple process in place to return the property when it is no longer
needed for
security investigations.

Beginning Thursday, January 8, CPTer, Allan Slater
spent 28 hours at the IAC fasting and sitting in, to draw attention to that
He was escorted out of the building Friday by Captain Glass and several
soldiers. The IAC was closed for the Friday holiday; Slater was asked to
the next day to meet with Colonel Brennan.

Here are some comments Slater heard as he sat in the reception area of the IAC.

From a US Colonel: "The US Forces say no property was confiscated. I
would trust an
American soldier ten times more than any Iraqi."

From three different Iraqis:
1. "There is no peace or justice here."

2. "Five percent of the Iraqis who come actually receive assistance."

3. "Your friend will never get his confiscated pictures and money
returned. US
soldiers conducting house raids keep the money they find and just throw
things like family photos in the garbage."

When Slater returned Saturday he was immediately confronted by Lieutenant
Hayes who
asked him if he planned to stay beyond the closing time. Slater responded,
"Only if
there is no solution offered that provides for the return of confiscated
Hayes replied, "In that case we will have to take you to prison." Slater
"OK it is your choice." Then Hayes went into a nearby office. At almost
the same
moment CPTers Peggy Gish, Haven Whiteside and Rose Whiteside came to sit with
Slater. He updated them on the situation.

In a few moments Hayes returned with Colonel Brennan and several US soldiers.
Brennan told Slater he was going to be taken to an Iraqi prison not an
American one.
Slater said, "That will be OK." Gish asked that she be allowed to go along
to see
where Slater was being taken. Brennan agreed to that. Slater, Gish and
Rose Whiteside were
then ushered out of the IAC by Hayes and US soldiers with guns at the
ready. Haven Whiteside
was allowed to stay behind after agreeing to leave before closing time.

Slater, Gish and Rose Whiteside were taken past the razor wire barricades
at the entrance to
the IAC and released. Slater was instructed never to return or it would
result in
charges of criminal trespass. Haven Whitside rejoined those CPTers on the
street after a
half hour. Slater continued his fast for a total of four days as an
expression of
his concern for the plight of thousands of Iraqi people who have little
hope of ever
regaining possession of property confiscated by US soldiers.

Here are some possible benefits of that short sit-in and fast.

1. Some people in North America quickly joined in. In the future, better
organized, longer term actions of public witness in Iraq and North America may
garner wide support.

2. Those Iraqis who witnessed the three CPTers being taken out of the IAC at
gunpoint saw North Americans on the pointed end of those guns for the first
This may be a way to build relationships with Iraqis who tansact business
within the
confines of the IAC.

3. The CPT team in Iraq attempted ten times to resolve one simple case of
return of
confiscated property and failed. This is consistent with the experience of
Iraqi and international human rights groups. The failure to accomplish
that task
led to the sit-in and fast. It is now clear that the CPT team in Iraq must
focus to preventing the house raids in the first place or pursue routes
that may
influence the development of policies that prevent such convoluted, unjust
by the US military.

(0) comments
Jan 16, 2004

Giving Baker Credit Where Credit is Due

James Baker does deserve some credit for working overtime during the holidays to try and salvage funding for Iraq. His back-channel trips around the world show that he's at least of the multilateralist persuasion (versus the unilateralists who have been running Washington) and resulted in narrowing the breach between many European governments and the US. cj

(0) comments

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?