Demonstrators in Germany have been met by riot police as they attempt to stop a train carrying 123 tons of radioactive nuclear waste from France into Germany.
Tens of thousands of people gathered at the north German town of Gorleben to protest the arrival of the highly-radioactive nuclear waste.
Meanwhile, police forces used truncheons and mace against an estimated 150 activists who were attempting to dig a hole under a railway track to prevent the shipment.
Some of the protestors threw stones at security forces, while others blocked the road using tractors.
Around 16,500 police officers have been sent to quell the unrest, DPA reported.
Other reports indicated that trains were delayed as the activists chained themselves to the tracks. According to AFP, they were eventually removed and arrested by the police.
“This nuclear convoy, the most radioactive ever, exposes the population to excessive risks. There is a risk to lives in the short term in case of an accident, but also a long-term risk to their health,” a spokesperson for the anti-nuclear group Sortir du Nucleaire (Get out of Nuclear) said.
The waste is being shipped from La Hague in France by the state-controlled nuclear engineering company Areva.
Chancellor Angela Merkel labeled the move by the activists as, “not a peaceful demonstration, but a criminal offence.”
The so-called Castor trains — cask for storage of radioactive material — have been met by mass demonstrations for the past 30 years. The protests began when they first started to dump nuclear waste at the Gorleben facility.
Eleven steel containers holding the nuclear waste are expected to reach their destination on Sunday.
The protests are also directed at Merkel’s center-right government, which recently passed legislation to extend the life span of Germany’s 17 nuclear power stations beyond the previous deadline of 2022.
RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Detainees’ Affairs said Israeli forces detained 403 Palestinians and raided 2148 homes across the West Bank during October.
In a report released Saturday, the ministry said Israeli soldiers intimidated and assaulted residents, destroying the contents of homes during the raids.
Of those detained, 95 percent had been assaulted in front of their families and were beaten en route to detention centers in Israeli military jeeps.
Among those detained, 130 were minors. Most of the minors detained were from Hebron and Jerusalem, the ministry said, adding that they were mostly sentenced to between one and six months, and ordered to pay large fines.
Sixty children from Jerusalem and one child from Hebron were placed under house arrest. In cases where a child broke the conditions of house arrest, a family member was arrested, the report said.
Most detainees were interrogated in Israeli settlements before they were transferred to official detention centers. The ministry documented 50 cases of raids inside the prisons. Under the pretext of searching for cell phones, guards used tear gas and sticks to beat prisoners and destroyed their personal belongings, the ministry said.
Israeli rights groups say Palestinians tortured in Israeli detention
On Tuesday, two Israeli rights groups released a report accusing Israel of “state sanctioned ill-treatment of interrogees” in at least one detention facility in Petah Tikva, in central Israel.
According to the joint B’Tselem and HaMoked report, testimonies from 121 detainees “indicate a clear pattern of activity by the authorities,” which “constitutes cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.”
According to the collected testimony, “violations include cruel detention conditions in sealed cells, in isolation and disgraceful hygienic conditions, continuous cuffing of detainees’ hands in the interrogation room in a way that makes it impossible for them to move, sleep deprivation, and other methods that harm the detainees physically and mentally.
The report noted that “the use of any one of these means, certainly their combined use, constitutes cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and in some instances, torture. All are strictly forbidden under international law and Israeli law.”
Further, the groups said testimonies suggested that children were treated no differently than adults by soldiers and detention center authorities, despite their legal status as minors.
Documents whose existence were denied by the Israeli government for over a year have been released after a legal battle led by Israeli human rights group Gisha. The documents reveal a deliberate policy by the Israeli government in which the dietary needs for the population of Gaza are chillingly calculated, and the amounts of food let in by the Israeli government measured to remain just enough to keep the population alive at a near-starvation level. This documents the statement made by a number of Israeli officials that they are “putting the people of Gaza on a diet”.
In 2007, when Israel began its full siege on Gaza, Dov Weisglass, adviser to then Prime-Minister Ehud Olmert, stated clearly, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” The documents now released contain equations used by the Israeli government to calculate the exact amounts of food, fuel and other necessities needed to do exactly that.
The documents are even more disturbing, say human rights activists, when one considers the fact that close to half of the people of Gaza are children under the age of eighteen. This means that Israel has deliberately forced the undernourishment of hundreds of thousands of children in direct violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
This release of documents also severely undermines Israel’s oft-made claim that the siege is “for security reasons”, as it documents a deliberate and systematic policy of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza.
Gisha’s director said, in relation to the release of documents, “Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place.”
In its statement accompanying the release of the documents, Gisha wrote:
The documents reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” for basic goods in the Gaza Strip (section h.4, page 5*). Thus, for example, Israel restricted the supply of fuel needed for the power plant, disrupting the supply of electricity and water. The state set a “lower warning line” (section g.2, page 5) to give advance warning of expected shortages in a particular item, but at the same time approved ignoring that warning, if the good in question was subject to a policy of “deliberate reduction”. Moreover, the state set an “upper red line” above which even basic humanitarian items could be blocked, even if they were in demand (section g.1, page 5). The state claimed in a cover letter to Gisha that in practice, it had not authorized reduction of “basic goods” below the “lower warning line”, but it did not define what these “basic goods” were.
Commentator Richard Silverstein wrote: “In reviewing the list of permitted items for import, you come to realize that these are the only items allowed. In other words, if an item is not on the list, it’s prohibited. So, for example, here is the list of permitted spices: Black pepper, soup powder, hyssop, sesame. cinnamon, anise, babuna (chamomile), sage. Sorry, cumin, basil, bay leaf, allspice, carraway, cardamon, chiles, chives, cilantro, cloves, garlic, sesame, tamarind, thyme, oregano, cayenne. Not on the list. You’re not a spice Palestinians need according to some IDF dunderhead. And tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, toys, glassware, paint, and shoes? You can forget about them too. Luxuries all, or else security threats.”
Despite the disturbing nature of the documents, which show a calculated policy of deliberate undernourishment of an entire population, no major media organizations have reported the story.
The full text of the released documents, and the original Freedom of Information Act request filed by Gisha, can be found on Gisha’s website at the link below:
Related Link(s): http://www.gisha.org/index.php?intLanguage=2&intItemId=…N=113
Lecture that Ali Abunimah gave at Stanford on Wednesday, November 3rd 2010 entitled “What is the alternative to peace talks to nowhere?” Sponsored by Students Confronting Apartheid by Israel (SCAI).
Ahead of the November 11 – 12 G-20 meeting in Seoul, South Korea, the Fed announced QE II, another $600 billion between now and end of June 2011, a flexible figure to be raised or lowered freely, the Fed saying it will:
“….regularly review the pace of its securities purchases and the overall size of the asset-purchase program in light of incoming information and will adjust the program as needed to best foster maximum employment and price stability.”
An additional $300 billion received from maturing securities will also be used. Easing, in fact, began around mid-year. Wall Street insiders knew it to take advantage, but not the public, QE being used to debauch the currency, harm the economy, and destroy, not create, jobs.
Market Ticker’s Karl Denninger calls QE “the largest tax ever imposed on the American people in the history of the nation. It is more than fourteen times the Bush tax cuts….Goldman Sachs believes that Bernanke will impose a total tax through (QE) of more than four trillion dollars over the next two years, or more than fifty-seven times the Bush tax cuts.”
How so? Because credit created is going into asset markets (stocks, bonds, commodities, etc.), not the economy. QE I’s tax, in fact, diluted stimulus funds, an offsetting tax “directly into the bankers’ pockets” for speculation, big salaries and bonuses.
Add to that inflation. According to James Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, QE will create unsustainable asset bubbles and debase the dollar, making products and services more expensive, ending “everyday low prices.” Bernanke wants inflation, a hidden tax. Devaluation is being used to get it, no matter the serious consequences.
Economist John Maynard Keynes in his 1920 book, “The Economic Consequences of the Peace,” warned us, saying:
“Lenin….was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”
Denninger is just as blunt, saying unless public outrage stops this, “you’re all going to be effectively dead economically.
Your assets will be stripped.
All of them.
Your savings….And, when the inevitable margin collapse comes in the corporate sector, your stock portfolio will detonate again and your pension funds, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will be” toast.
There’s no middle ground, no place to hide. Either “stop this madness or we all get destroyed. Those are the only choices,” or as Tom Lehrer’s memorable 1950s lyrics put it, referring then to potential nuclear annihilation, “we’ll all go together when we go.” All today except bankers, of course.
On November 4, on Bloomberg TV, David Stockman, Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget Director, explained it this way:
Fed QE “is injecting high grade monetary heroin into the financial system of the world, and one of these days it is going to kill the patient,” meaning economies and people.
In early 2009, economist Michael Hudson said:
“The (US) economy has reached its debt limit and is entering its insolvency phase. We are not in a cycle but (at) the end of an era. The old world of debt pyramiding to a fraudulent degree cannot be restored,” only delayed to postpone a painful day of reckoning.
Piling new debt on old exacerbates a bad situation. Hudson explained more in his latest article titled, “US ‘Quantitative Easing’ is Fracturing the Global Economy.”
Quantitative Easing (QE) Defined
In simple terms, it’s monetary policy to increase the money supply – literally creating it out of thin air. Wikipedia calls it a central bank policy “to increase the supply of money by increasing excess reserves of the banking system. This policy is usually invoked when the normal methods to control the money supply have failed.” Or have been exhausted in cases where interest rates are near zero, today’s situation in America, Japan and elsewhere.
Central banks do it electronically, thereby increasing their own accounts to use any way they wish, but not risk free. Though not evident so far, too much money chasing too few goods causes inflation. Currency debasing, including the dollar, is another issue, very relevant today, given that it’s part of the Fed’s plan. Gold prices reflect it, rising from under $300 in 2002 to nearly $1,400 currently, experts believing it’s heading much higher. Bond rates so far are low, reflecting economic weakness, but once inflation is sensed, they’ll rise proportionately to the risk.
Project Censored’s top 2009-10 story is the plan to replace the dollar, perhaps by debasing it to worthlessness. However, other nations have reacted, in Michael Hudson’s words by “creat(ing) an international monetary system in which central bank savings do not fund (America’s massive debt). Russia, China, India and Brazil have taken the lead.”
Others will likely follow. “Finance has become the new mode of warfare.” Currency wars are in play for economic competitiveness, nations jockeying with each other during a period of economic weakness, a game putting them all at risk.
QE “is based on the wrong-headed idea that if the Fed provides liquidity, banks will… lend out credit at a markup, ‘earning their way out of debt’ – inflating the economy in the process.”
Not the economy most people think of, however. The Fed is targeting “asset markets – above all real estate, as 80% of (US) bank loans” are for mortgages.
Importantly, Fed gamesmanship puts international finance at risk. “This is what US economic policy and even its foreign policy is now all about, including de-criminalizing financial fraud.” In the 1980s, greed was called good, plenty of fraud, of course, came with it. Today though, it’s massive theft in amounts never before imagined in unknown multi-trillions, lots more to come unless stopped.
Instead of healing ailing economies, they’re being wrecked. Hoped for new borrowing isn’t happening. Instead, “banks have been tightening their loan standards rather than lending more to US homeowners, consumers and businesses since 2007.”
Rather than lend domestically, dollars are flooding world currency markets, hoping insolvent banks can earn their way out of debt, and make America more competitive by debasing the dollar, perhaps replacing it.
Domestically, the market is “loaned up.” Borrowing is shrinking, not expanding, a sure way to prevent economic growth. QE I, the $1.7 trillion created from March 2009 to March 2010, failed. More worrisome is that QE II entails:
“consequences that Federal Reserve policy makers have not acknowledged. For one thing, the banks have used (bailout and liquidity funds) to increase their profits and to continue paying high salaries and bonuses. What their lending is inflating are asset prices,” not output and employment. “And asset price inflation is increasing the power of property over living labor and production, elevating the FIRE sector (finance, insurance, and real estate) further over the ‘real’ economy.”
Moreover, QE II is a zero sum game. It can only work at the expense of other economies. That’s why it’s “financial aggression,” destroying global currency stability. It also harms America, the greater economy sacrificed for the FIRE sector, especially Wall Street, destroying countries and human beings for profit.
Today’s “global economy is being turned into a tributary system, achieving what military conquest sought in times past.” It’s “implicit in QE II.” However, other countries are reacting, “taking defensive measures against this speculation (and) ‘free credit’ takeovers” with cheap dollars, using various methods to do it.
The Reserve Bank of India just raised rates for the sixth time to 6.25%. The Reserve Bank of Australia increased theirs for the seventh time to 4.75%. In mid-October, China raised its rates. Brazil raised its tax on foreign investment in government bonds. South Korea may reinstate a withholding tax on foreign investors’ holdings in some securities. Watch for other nations to impose similar measures, mindful of Fed policy.
Today, says Hudson, the “major international economic question… is how national economies can achieve greater stability by insulating themselves from predatory (Fed) financial movements,” a zero sum game they’ll lose if they can’t.
Effectiveness of Quantitative Easing Questioned
QE I failed. Will QE II do better? Many economists think not, including Bernanke, having argued (with former Fed vice chairman Alan Blinder) against it in 1988. Minneapolis Fed president Narayana Kocherlakota agrees. Speaking in London in early October, he explained several reasons why, a key one that banks, flush with reserves, aren’t lending.
Pimco’s co-CEO Mohamed El-Erian also thinks QE II will fail, headlining on November 4 in the Financial Times, “QE2 blunderbuss likely to backfire,” saying:
“….liquidity injections and financial engineering are insufficient to deal with the challenges that the US faces. Without meaningful structural reforms, part of the Fed’s liquidity injection will (cause) another surge of capital flows to other countries,” precisely what they don’t need or want.
Fed policy will force other countries to protect their currencies, perhaps by capital controls, protectionism and other measures. As a result, the dollar’s reserve currency status will erode, what’s now happening incrementally.
“The unfortunate conclusion is that QE II will be of limited success in sustaining high growth and job creation in the US, and will complicate life for many other countries.” That seems what Fed policy intends, wrecking world economies for greater FIRE sector profits and empowerment. Will it work is at issue, or will reckless Fed meddling destroy predators with their prey.
Economics Nobel laureate Christopher Pissarides believes QE II won’t produce jobs. In a brief comment, economics Nobel laureate Paul Krugman also expressed doubt it can work. Former Fed vice chairman Donald Kohn said it won’t turn around the US economy. At best, it might help marginally. Economics Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz in the Financial Times said it’s “folly to place all our trust in the Fed,” adding:
“It should be obvious that monetary policy has not worked to get the economy out of its current doldrums.” Having failed so far, “monetary authorities have turned to quantitative easing. Even most advocates of monetary policy agree the impact of this is uncertain. What they seldom note, though are the potential long-term costs.”
Stiglitz prefers fiscal over monetary policy, targeting education, technology and infrastructure. Even though government debt will be increased, “the assets on the other side of the balance sheet are increased commensurately,” and over time, their return on investment far exceeds the cost. On the other hand, planned austerity, hoping monetary policy can work is “sheer folly.” Machiavellian destructiveness better describes it.
Economist David Rosenberg is also skeptical, saying in a November 4 commentary that he sees QE II having “no visible impact on the willingness to borrow, the money multiplier or velocity, which is what we would need to see to declare this radical policy experiment a success.” QE I also provided none. It was a total flop, suggesting QE II won’t fare better. Worse still, Rosenberg sees destructive currency wars intensifying, leading to trade wars that don’t “tend to end very well.”
Market analyst Bob Chapman calls QE II a futile way to keep the economy and financial system afloat. For one thing, it drives out real investment, “the kind that creates jobs and profits.” Fed policies are the opposite, producing debt and speculative excess. In the process, “they also crowd out other borrowers, which ultimately leads to higher interest rates and offsets banks’ ability to lend.” Moreover, consumers are gravely harmed. Their purchasing power declines, the economy, as a result, pushed “deeper into depression.”
Deflation now besets America, but reckless money creation eventually causes inflation, “to be followed by hyperinflation and ultimately deflationary depression.”
George Bernard Shaw observed that “If governments devalue the(ir) currenc(ies) in order to betray all creditors, you politely call this procedure ‘inflation.’ ” It doesn’t just happen. It’s from reckless monetary and/or fiscal policies.
Moreover, the combination of government-created debt for wars and corporate handouts as well as QE II will “bury the economy.” It will do nothing to increase demand, reverse the housing crisis, create jobs, or stimulate growth, what sick economies need to get well.
Financial expert and investor safety advocate Martin Weiss worries that the Fed is “unleash(ing) a whole new round of monetary stimulus, potentially driving more liquidity into gold, commodities, foreign currencies, and emerging markets, noting also “one of the greatest disconnects of all time between:
– a sinking economy on the one side, and
– the real possibility of roaring bull markets in certain asset classes on the other side.”
On November 3, Bloomberg’s Joshua Zumbrun suggested that Republican electoral strength may restrain Fed policy. Don’t bet on it. The die is cast. QE II will be unchecked, the announced $600 billion an amount to be raised or lowered freely.
At the same time, bipartisan support for austerity will gravely harm millions of Americans. They’re on their own with no help from Washington, newly elected bums even worse than repudiated ones. To their chagrin, voters will realize it once the 112th Congress convenes, what they already should know about a president who betrayed them.
A Final Comment
QE can work if used constructively, not destructively, as planned. Colonial America proved it, Massachusetts first in 1691 with its own paper money, backed by the full faith and credit of the government. Other colonies followed using scrip, freeing them from British banks, letting them grow their economies prosperously, inflation-free, with no taxation for 25 years. The secret was not issuing too much, recycling created money back into local economies for productive growth.
In other words, everything was kept proportionally in balance. Moreover, local governments paid no interest on their own money, created for growth, not banker enrichment at the expense of commerce, industry, and the public.
Lincoln did the same thing, again with government created money. His accomplishments and what followed turned America into the world’s greatest industrial giant by launching the steel industry, a continental railroad system, and a new era of farm machinery and cheap tools. Free education was also established. The Homestead Act gave settlers ownership rights and encouraged land development. Government supported all branches of science. Mass production methods were standardized. Labor productivity rose by up to 75%, and still more was achieved during the post-civil war years, America’s greatest period of growth before the Fed’s 1913 creation.
By abolishing or nationalizing it, America could again be sustainably prosperous under a publicly-run banking system, everyone benefiting from inflation-free growth. Predatory lenders would be eliminated. Government would control its own money, creating it as needed interest-free. Federal taxes could be reduced or eliminated. Moreover, if states and local communities had their own banks, like North Dakota, it would work as well for them.
Under today’s privately-run Fed and predatory banking system, Wall Street runs America, wrecking it for profit, QE its latest scheme. What could be used productively is a weapon of mass destruction. As a result, harder than ever hard times are coming, what only civil action can prevent, including demanding that government control its own money, what the Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8 mandates.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
BETHLEHEM — British Foreign Office spokesman Martin Day on Thursday called on Israel to allow Gaza borders to open for exports to ease an unbearable situation in the Strip.
In July, British Prime Minister David Cameron sparked outrage in Israel when he said Israel’s blockade of Gaza had turned the coastal enclave into a “prison camp.” Israeli President Shimon Peres accused Cameron of anti-semistism.
Asked if the response to Cameron’s remarks made him wary of criticizing Israel, Day replied that he would say frankly that the social, economic and political situation in Gaza was unbearable. In an interview with Ma’an Radio, he said the UK welcomed Israel’s decision to allow more goods into Gaza, and hoped it would be fully implemented.
Day said the British government believed settlements were a major obstacle to achieving peace, and that the UK continuously relayed this to Israel. All settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem, contravened international law and should be frozen to create an atmosphere for successful negotiations, he said.
The goal of British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s visit to the region Tuesday was to continue international efforts to restart negotiations between Israel and the PLO, which stalled over Israel’s settlement activity, he said.
The spokesman said the UK was committed to establishing a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital of both Palestine and Israel.
American officials face barrage of criticism from Human Rights Council over Guantanamo and torture allegations.
The United States has for the first time faced the United Nations Human Rights Council over accusations of human rights violations.
Council members in Geneva, Switzerland, levelled a barrage of criticisms at the US administration on Friday, calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison and for investigations into alleged torture by US troops abroad.
The council’s first review of the US human rights record was part of a gradual examination of the performance of all 192 UN members over a four-year period.
Iran’s delegation accused the US of violating human rights though covert CIA operations “carried out on pretext of combating terrorism”.
European countries said Washington should ban the death penalty. Mexico urged it to halt racial profiling and the use of lethal force in controlling illegal migration over its border.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, called on Washington to better promote religious tolerance.
‘Grossly violating rights’
Commenting on the council’s criticisms, Antonio Ginatta of the New York-based group Human Rights Watch said: “US officials were often reduced to restating current practices that grossly violate human rights, like the death penalty, poor prison conditions and sentencing youth offenders to life without parole.”
Amnesty International said that the US must also hold accountable those responsible for torture.
“These recommendations must be at the heart of rebuilding the United States’ human rights record,” it said in a statement.
The US vigorously defended its human rights record, with Harold Koh, a US state department legal adviser, telling the UN council: “Let there be no doubt, the United States does not torture and it will not torture.”
He said: “Between Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo we have conducted hundreds of investigations regarding detainee abuse allegations and those have led to hundreds of disciplinary actions.”
The Guantanamo Bay prison, maintained by the US in Cuba and which currently holds 174 detainees, has been highly controversial.
Barack Obama, the US president, had pledged to close the facility within a year of taking office, but missed that deadline.
Earlier, Koh responded to countries who bemoaned the failure to close the prison, saying that “the president cannot close Guantanamo alone”.
He said any such move would require help from Congress, the US courts and foreign allies willing to take in released inmates.
The US has come under renewed pressure over human rights with the revelation that George Bush, the former US president, personally authorised the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind.
According to The New York Times, which obtained an advance copy of the ex-president’s book Decision Points, Bush responded “damn right” when the CIA sought permission to use waterboarding.
The practice of waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, has been described as torture and Obama outlawed it shortly after coming into office.
Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey, reporting from the UN headquarters, said there was a “real attempt” to distance the Obama administration from practices used under Bush.
“This will probably not satisfy the critics however, in particular in the arena of drone attacks and these new allegations of torture which came out through WikiLeaks recently, where it is alleged that the US turned a blind eye to abuses by Iraqi forces,” she said.
Bush had shunned the UN Human Rights Council, saying it did not need to be scolded by countries such as Syria and Cuba whose own records on human rights were poor.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican Representative who is set to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee when a new US Congress convenes in January, echoed those views on Friday.
She said that the 47-member Human Rights Council was “dominated by rogue regimes”.
“Serial human rights abusers like Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela all hijacked the platform to attack the US for imaginary violations,” she said.
“The US should walk out of this rogues’ gallery and seek to build alternative forums that will actually focus on abuses and deny membership to abusers.”
But Michael Posner, the US assistant secretary of state for democracy and human rights, told a news briefing after the council debate that the US got “a fair hearing”.
“This is part of an ongoing process to engage with the Council and the UN,” he said.
The council will issue its recommendations on Tuesday and the US delegation will indicate which of them are acceptable before reporting back in March when a final report is adopted.
Lawyers of over 200 Iraqi civilians have presented the High Court in London with “credible” evidence of their “systemic” torture and abuse by British forces.
The evidence showed that British troops tortured those incarcerated in “the UK’s Abu Ghraib” by denying them food and water, depriving them of sleep and exposing them to mock executions at secret facilities, including one near Basra in southeastern Iraq.
The documents also revealed that prisoners were physically and sexually abused, kept in long-term solitary confinement, forced to kneel in painful positions for up to 30 hours at a time, and subjected to electric shocks at the Basra facility run by the Joint Forces Interrogation Team (JFIT) among others.
Michael Fordham QC, for the former inmates, said, “there are credible allegations of serious, inhumane practices across a whole range of dates and facilities concerning British military detention in Iraq.”
The Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), which represents the Iraqi civilians, said the torture techniques were used in all 14 British military detention centers in Iraq but the majority were reported in three facilities.
The Ministry of Defense has already admitted that British troops were involved in the torture and murder of a number of Iraqi civilians.
The murders include the case of a man who was kicked to death on board an RAF chopper, another who was shot by a soldier after being involved in a traffic incident and a teen who was pushed to his death into a river.
Those murders only added to the 2003 scandal over the death of the 26-year-old Iraqi hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa, who was killed while in the custody of Britain’s 1st Battalion the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.
It emerged that Mousa had been hooded and beaten severely during interrogation by British soldiers, which left him with 93 injuries, including broken ribs and nose that led to his death.
Now lawyers are calling for a public inquiry into the cases of hundreds of Iraqis, who were tortured in British detention facilities in Iraq as well as an investigation to determine which people in the top military or political ranks are responsible for the authorization of such techniques.
This comes as the MoD has said it will lead the investigation itself with the Liberal Democrat armed forces minister Nick Harvey arguing “a costly public inquiry would be unable to investigate individual criminal behaviour or impose punishments”.
But Fordham said the proposal will be “the military investigating the military” and against the UK’s obligations under the European convention on human rights.
According to Phil Shiner, the lawyer representing the former inmates, “It is nonsense to suggest, as the MoD does, it is a case of just a few bad apples.”
“People at the highest level knew what was going on, it goes up to the very highest level and is not something that just happened after we went into Iraq,” he said.