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Context of 'September 13, 2003: Nine Men Are Arrested in Iraq and Beaten; One Dies'

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At Camp Bucca, a large detention camp at Umm Qasr near the Kuwaiti border (officially called the Bucca Theater Internment Facility), representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) witness a shooting incident resulting in the death of one prisoner and the wounding of another. (International Committee of the Red Cross 2/2004)

Nine men are arrested in a hotel in Basra, Iraq, by Coalition Forces. According to a later report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), they are “made to kneel, face and hands against the ground, as if in a prayer position.” Soldiers stump on the necks of those daring to raise their heads. The soldiers take the prisoners’ money and send the nine Iraqis to Al-Hakimiya, a former office of the mukhabarat, the old Iraqi secret police, in Basra. There, soldiers beat them severely. One of the detainees, a 28-year-old, dies. Prior to his death, the other prisoners heard him screaming. The death certificate will say he died of “Cardio-respiratory arrest—asphyxia,” cause “unknown.” Someone who identifies the body, tells the ICRC the man had a broken nose, several broken ribs and skin lesions on the face. Two of the other captives are hospitalized with severe injuries. (International Committee of the Red Cross 2/24/2004 pdf file)

A delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) interviews a 61-year-old Iraqi who has been imprisoned in Camp Bucca. The elderly man tells the ICRC that at the time of his arrest, he was “tied, hooded, and forced to sit on the hot surface of what he surmised to be the engine of a vehicle….” The ICRC verifies his account noting that the presence of “large crusted lesions” on his buttocks were consistent with his allegation. (International Committee of the Red Cross 2/24/2004 pdf file)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) complains in writing to Coalition Forces about the treatment of prisoners being held at Abu Ghraib prison (see October 2003). (US Department of the Army 3/9/2004; Lewis 5/11/2004; Associated Press 5/16/2004; Jehl and Schmitt 5/19/2004) The ICRC’s complaints are then discussed at high levels inside the Bush administration. “We knew that the ICRC had concerns, and in accordance with the matter in which the ICRC does its work, it presented those concerns directly to the command in Baghdad,” Powell will later recall on “Fox News Sunday.” “And I know that some corrective action was taken with respect to those concerns,” he adds. (Associated Press 5/16/2004)

Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), meets with Secretary of State Colin Powell and says that the ICRC has “serious concerns about detainees in Iraq,” though according to a senior State Department official, he does not detail them. During his visit, Kellenberger also meets with Condoleezza Rice and, reportedly, with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, though it is unclear what precisely is discussed. White House Spokesman Sean McCormack will later say that “Iraq was not mentioned” during the meeting with Rice. Rather the main topic of discussion was Guantanamo, he says. (Beaumont, Bright, and Harris 5/9/2004; Matthews 5/12/2004)


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