Thu, Jul 24, 2003 - Page 7 News List

US troops abuse rights, report says

AFP , BAGHDAD

An Amnesty International report, released yesterday, savaged the US military in Iraq for human rights abuses, particularly violence against civilians and its treatment of prisoners.

The human rights watchdog warned US military raids are claiming the lives of everyday people and resulting in the disappearance of Iraqis without a trace into the prison system.

"Given the legacy Iraq has ..., it's definitely not sending the right message that the provisional authority really respects the rights of the Iraqi people," Amnesty's spokeswoman, Judit Arenas Licea, said.

In a cause for concern, Licea, who attended a meeting with Iraqi civil associations Tuesday morning, said she was struck by the groups' eagerness to talk about abuses under the Americans as opposed to those under former president Saddam Hussein.

"People are afraid of going out on the streets, being picked up and going missing," she said, in a warning that the climate evoked by the Americans unintentionally reminded Iraqis of their experiences at the mercy of Saddam.

"It is the same scene being repeated now. You still have the same crowds of people outside Abu Gharib prison looking for their relatives," she said.

The Amnesty report, or memorandum, surveys incidents across Iraq, from north to south, since April 24, two weeks after Baghdad fell.

While acknowledging the dangerous situation for US troops in post-war Iraq, the report expressed alarm about violence against the civilians.

The report lists multiple incidents of excessive force, in which the death of Saddi Sueliman Ibrahim al-Ubayadi stands out.

Witnesses told Amnesty Ubayadi's house was raided in the early morning by US forces in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, on May 14, when they proceeded to beat him with rifle butts.

"He ran out of the house to get away from them; soldiers shot him a few meters away and he died immediately," the report says.

Licea also drew attention to the shooting of Mohammad al-Kubaisi, aged 12, on June 26.

Soldiers in an opposite building opened fire on Kubaisi, as he carried bedding up to the roof of his house.

A witness told Amnesty he shouted to the soldier:" `That baby,' but the soldier said `No baby' and opened fire."

The boy's mother told Amnesty about 20 soldiers entered the house and "did not offer medical treatment."

When neighbors tried to drive the boy to the hospital, a tank stopped them and the driver was handcuffed to the ground.

They were allowed up after 15 minutes, but by then the boy was dead, the report says.

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