Cross-posted at Daily Kos.
While on guard duty at a Baghdad shopping precinct, four American soldiers reportedly raped two Iraqi women. Said one soldier who was interviewed:
“I know the women were Iraqi. I however don’t know if they were raped, or were prostitutes, or just wanted sex.”
The soldier’s comments, and those of others interviewed, went unchallenged, and “only the most cursory attempts [were made] by the investigator to establish whether the women were raped.”
The fallout? The allegations “can be heard almost everywhere in Turkey, [that] US troops have raped thousands of Iraqi women and young girls. …”
“Didn’t you see? The American soldiers raped Iraqi women … My father talked to me about it . . . Thousands of rapes are in the records. Can you imagine how many are still secret?”
More fallout and detailed reports below, including today’s report on Democracy Now! : : :
More about the specifics of the rape charges below. First, this:
More fallout. In “Iraqi women find election a cruel joke,” an op-ed published in The Independent and reprinted in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Jan. 30, 2005, Houzan MahMoud — the United Kingdom head of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq — wrote:
Methal Kazem is one woman who spoke publicly of her treatment by the occupiers. Last February a U.S. helicopter landed on the roof of her house. She was hooded and handcuffed and taken to Abu Ghraib.
Accused of being a former Baathist secret policewoman, she was made to run on sharp gravel, tied up and suspended and made to listen to the screaming of other inmates. She heard one man repeatedly screaming “do not touch my honor” and Methal believes that the man’s wife was being raped in front of him. …
I also believe that American soldiers have raped Iraqi women. They dare not talk about it, however, as they face being killed by their own families if they do. My associates in Iraq have been counseling Liqaa, a former Iraqi female soldier, who was raped by an American soldier in November 2003. The savage truth is that if she returns home, male family members may murder her for her “dishonor.”
How Fake Photographs Fuel Muslim Anger: One site I investigated purported to show actual photos of Iraqi women being raped by U.S./coalition soldiers.
Reports the Christian Science Monitor in a May 2004 article, “For Iraqi women, Abu Ghraib’s taint,” the photos “would horrify anyone: hooded US soldiers raping and torturing naked Iraqi women at gunpoint. …” However:
“I know they’re not real, but people won’t believe it,” says Azzawi, a pretty 20-year-old [whose mother was in Abu Ghraib prison], holding up the paper with a shaking hand. “Who’s going to marry their daughters after they see a thing like that. …
The material and fake photographs found on Web sites are loathsome, inflammatory, racist, and ridiculously exaggerated.
But it has become — from what we know about reactions in Turkey — a part of the mythos of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
As the CSM‘s article points out, “photos — even if fake — spark rumors that hit family honor.”
Foremost among the serious journalistic efforts is the reporting of Suzanne Goldenberg, U.S. correspondent for The Guardian.
Ms. Goldenberg — whose Guardian article, “US soldiers accused of sex assaults,” appeared March 8, 2005 — was a guest on today’s Democracy Now!:
It began: “Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Brigade — the same military unit whose troops fired on the car carrying freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena — were under investigation last year for raping Iraqi women, U.S. Army documents reveal. Four soldiers were alleged to have raped two women while on guard duty in a Baghdad shopping precinct. A U.S. Army investigator interviewed several soldiers from the military unit, the 1-15th battalion of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, but did not locate or interview the Iraqi women involved before shutting down the inquiry for lack of evidence.
“Transcripts of the investigation, obtained by the Guardian from the American Civil Liberties Union, show only the most cursory attempts by the investigator to establish whether the women were raped. The soldiers claimed the women were prostitutes, or denied any knowledge of anyone in their unit having sex while deployed in Iraq. The statements went largely unchallenged. “I know the women were Iraqi. I however don’t know if they were raped, or were prostitutes, or just wanted sex,” one soldier told investigators.
Most astonishingly, Ms. Goldenberg told Amy Goodman:
Their statements will not be challenged. The interviews are not very rigorous, and that’s a pattern that is — has become evident in the large amounts of documents that have been obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union. That’s like hundreds or actually thousands of pages of documents.
Can you imagine conducting an investigation of any kind without locating and interviewing the victims?
In May 2004, Ms. Goldenberg was reporting this story:
The note claimed that US guards had been raping women detainees, … Several of the women were now pregnant, it added. The women had been forced to strip naked in front of men, it said. The note urged the Iraqi resistance to bomb the jail to spare the women further shame.
Late last year, Swadi, one of seven female lawyers now representing women detainees in Abu Ghraib, began to piece together a picture of systemic abuse and torture perpetrated by US guards against Iraqi women held in detention without charge. [It was] “happening all across Iraq“.
In November last year, Swadi visited a woman detainee at a US military base at al-Kharkh. … “She was the only woman who would talk about her case. She was crying. She told us she had been raped. Several American soldiers had raped her. She had tried to fight them off and they had hurt her arm. She showed us the stitches. She told us, ‘We have daughters and husbands. For God’s sake don’t tell anyone about this.'”
Astonishingly, the secret inquiry launched by the US military in January, headed by Major General Antonio Taguba, has confirmed that the letter smuggled out of Abu Ghraib by a woman known only as “Noor” was entirely and devastatingly accurate.
I have nothing to say. Except to add this from Amnesty International: