(With Arkan Hamed)
BASRA - New footage
of British soldiers beating up young Iraqi men in Amarah in 2003 and the release
of more photographs of
atrocities by U.S. soldiers against Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison
have spread outrage across Iraq.
The timing of the new images is potent, in the wake of violence spreading through
Iraq and much of the Muslim world over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad carried
by a Danish newspaper and then other European publications.
"We in Basra have decided not to cooperate in any way with the British
troops," 43-year-old food merchant Ali Shehab Najim told IPS. "These
occupiers of Basra are invaders, and we will not sell them any of their requirements."
Najim added, "None of us will work with them any longer, either. My cousin
used to work with them inside their base, but not anymore. He refuses to go
to work, and we have decided to show our contempt for them in every way possible."
Najim said people are particularly angry over the Danish military presence
He said he had first accepted the presence of occupation forces, but now "I
think it's about time to tell them we do not respect them since they are behaving
in a very bad way."
After footage of British troops beating young Iraqis with fists and batons
was aired earlier, the governorate of Basra announced it had severed ties to
the British military. This included cancellation of joint security patrols.
"We condemn any of those actions by British and American troops in torturing
our young people," former head city councilor of Basra governorate Qasim
Atta al-Joubori told IPS.
"Iraqis suffered a lot during the past 35 years, but now they are tortured
by foreigners who invaded our country," said al-Joubori, who was a city
councilor in Basra for 40 years. "We can't accept having them any more."
Far from cooperating, people in Basra are now prepared to fight the occupation
forces, he said. "What these beatings and torture show is that the occupiers
are both assaulting and insulting all of the Iraqi people."
Similar views are being echoed around Basra, a relatively quieter area in the
south under the charge of British troops.
"We are looking to the day we see those bastards out of our country,"
55-year-old factory owner Abdullah Ibraheem told IPS. "Now they are torturing
the citizens of Basra, Baghdad, and Amarah, so they have not only lost the support
of the Iraqi Sunnis but the Shias in this country as well."
He said most Iraqis know someone who has been in a military detention center,
but said the new video footage and photographic evidence of torture have "demolished
whatever credibility may have remained for the occupiers."
The Australian television network Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) aired
previously unpublished video footage and photographs Wednesday of abuse of Iraqis
by U.S. soldiers inside the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.
The images are similar to those published in 2004 that led to furor across
the Middle East. But many of the new images show a brutality and extent of sexual
humiliation that many news outlets found too shocking to carry.
The American Civil Liberties Union had obtained the photographs from the U.S.
government under a Freedom of Information Act request, but its members said
they were not aware how the SBS came to air its new footage and the photographs.
There could be yet more photographs to come. "I believe major newspapers
in the U.S. like the Washington Post have scores more photos which are
evidence of torture at Abu Ghraib, but they won't publish them due to pressure
from the U.S. government," an attorney at the Center for Constitutional
Rights in New York City told IPS.
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters, "The abuses
at Abu Ghraib have been fully investigated." He added, "When there
have been abuses, this department has acted upon them promptly, investigated
them thoroughly, and where appropriate, prosecuted individuals."
He said the Pentagon believes that the release of the new images will trigger
greater violence and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq.
(Inter Press Service)