Thursday, March 27, 2008

Saddam-era torture tools in mobile museum of horror

I was reading "Egyptian MP: Saddam Hussein was a 'real man'" by the excellent Israel Matzav (link), when I came across this article which appeared on Kuwait Times.

BAGHDAD: Gruesome instruments of torture and the personal effects of victims killed by henchmen of dictator Saddam Hussein haunt Iraqis five years after the fall of his brutal regime. The display, currently on show in Baghdad, is due to travel across the country in "tribute to the thousands of martyrs" murdered when Saddam was in power, former political prisoner Amed Naji Al-Badawi said. Badawi is on a committee of Iraqi former political prisoners who set up the exhibition in a makeshift museum of horrors on the banks of the Tigris River, in the Shiite neighborhood of Kadhimiyah.

Nooses hang from the ceiling, and a wooden coffin-like box containing a mediaeval-looking torture rack on which prisoners were pinned and stretched takes centre stage. Pictures of hangings and bodies are plastered all over the walls. "These are the horrors of the Saddam regime," said Badawi, a stout man in his 50s who spent five years in the jails of Saddam's feared "mukhabarat" secret service because of his alleged support for the Shiite Dawa party. He was arrested along with 13 members of his family-and seven of his brothers were killed by Saddam's goons. Over the past five years Badawi's committee has helped to locate 106 mass graves and the remains of 1,050 men, women and children killed by members of the ousted regime. The display was set up to mark the 17th anniversary of the start of a Shiite uprising in southern Iraq on March 1, 1991, a day after Saddam's regime agreed to a truce with US-led coalition forces after its defeat in the first Gulf war.

His regime brutally suppressed the uprising, killing thousands of people. The names of dozens of those victims are inscribed on black banners hung in the museum, next to a portrait of Shiite leader Mohammed Sadek Al-Sadr who was killed in 1999. The assassination of the Iraqi Shiite dignitary sparked major riots in Najaf, one of Iraq's holiest cities for Shiite Muslims. In the middle of the room a single doll wrapped in a white shroud represents children killed during the iron-fisted rule of Saddam. It is surrounded with toys and cheap plastic flowers. Mothers and widows who have visited the museum have broken down in tears at the sight of this display, Badawi said. Also on show are cases containing the personal effects of some of Saddam's victims, whose remains or mutilated bodies have been found over the past five years in dozens of mass graves across Iraq. The artifacts include combs, identity cards, a rosary, a sock caked in soil, a fragment of a pair of spectacles and bloodstained clothes. Arrest warrants signed by Saddam himself are also on view.

Among the most horrific objects retrieved by Badawi and his team from the notorious torture rooms of the mukhabarat, and now included in the museum, is a wooden table covered in a worn strip of leather and with a domestic iron placed at one end. "This is an electrocution table," Badawi said. "The naked prisoner was bound to the table with a steel bar strapped to his shoulder" to ensure maximum immobility as his torturers electrocuted him or used the iron to inflict burns, Badawi said. Electric shocks were delivered via electrodes attached to a plastic syringe, the needle of which "was inserted into the urethra of the victim's sexual organ," Badawi added. "The pain was atrocious." Videos of torture sessions are also screened in a basement room. Terrified prisoners can be seen being beaten, having their arms and legs broken and being thrown from rooftops or blown up with explosives. - (KUWAIT TIMES)-AFP


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home