U.K, says Iraq 'terrifying place to live'

By AL WEBB, United Press International  |  Dec. 2, 2002 at 10:33 AM
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LONDON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The British government on Monday marked Iraq as a terrifying place to live where Saddam Hussein's regime uses torture, rape and other human rights crimes to terrorize its people into submission.

The 23-page report, entitled "Saddam Hussein: Crimes and Human Rights Abuses," listed eye-gouging, acid baths, mock executions, electric shock and piercing of hands with drills among the methods of torment used by Iraq's rulers against their citizens.

"The dossier makes for harrowing reading," said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. "It makes it clear these (crimes) are carried out as part of the deliberate policy of the regime."

The government said the evidence contained in the report was compiled from Iraqis who had left Saddam's government as well as intelligence material and information from charities working in the country.

Exactly why the document was released Monday was unclear, but it comes six days before Baghdad must submit to the United Nations a full declaration any weapons of mass destruction and its programs for developing them, or risk "serious consequences" under terms of U.N. Resolution 1441.

"The aim," said Straw, "is to remind the world that the abuses of the Iraqi regime extend far beyond its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in violation of its international obligations."

The report described Iraq as "a terrifying place to live," where "arbitrary arrests and killings are commonplace." It added that "torture is systematic in Iraq" and that "the most senior members in the regime are personally responsible."

The dossier was blasted by Amnesty International. Irene Kahn, Amnesty's secretary-general said, "This selective attention to human rights is nothing but a cold and calculated manipulation of the work of activists."

"Let us not forget that these same governments turned a blind eye to Amnesty International's reports of widespread human rights violations in Iraq before the Gulf War" in the early 1990s, she said.

The report deals in detail with Saddam's alleged methods of torture. It cited the punishment of amputating the tongues of those who slander or verbally abuse the Iraqi leader. "Fear," the document said, is "Saddam's chosen method for staying in power."

It also said women are routinely raped, tortured and killed. At one prison, according to the document, prisoners were kept in steel boxes, with only 30 minutes a day allowed for fresh air and light.

In what some analysts saw as an apparent bid to win Arab support for possible military action against the Iraqi regime, the dossier said the "costs to fellow Muslims" of Saddam's ruthlessness included at least 1 million dead and wounded Muslims in Iraq's war with Iran in the 1980s.

In another episode, it said, Saddam's forces resorted to chemical warfare to wipe out some 5,000 Kurds in an attack on the town of Halabja, in northern Iraq, on March 16, 1988.

"A cruel and callous disregard for human life and suffering remains the hallmark of his regime," the report said.

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