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U.S. colonel admits holding Iraqi teens; Fresh torture charges


The US army admitted Monday for the first time to having detained adolescents in its prisons in Iraq, according to a German press report.

The popular TV magazine “Report Mainz,” broadcast Monday evening, quoted Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the US troops in Iraq, as saying that they still imprisoned 58 Iraqis in the age of from 14 and 17. The program had previously reported July 5 that 117 children had been held during the period of January through May.

The Iraqi adolescents are held in the prisons of Abu Ghraib and"Camp Bucca” and the length of their average imprisonment is half a year, Johnson said.

In an independent report, Lieutenant Colonel Joe Yoswa, a spokesman for the Defense Department allegedly confirmed that the U.S. military is holding 58 juveniles. None of them are female, he said.

In the report, published by Arkansas Indymedia, he stated that the U.S. does imprison children in sweeps made by patrols in Iraq.


Whole families are arrested and taken from their homes in the middle of the night, the report said.

The families are taken before a “committee” who then decides who to release and who to imprison, according to the report. The highest ranking officer on the “committee” is a Colonel.

On the German television magazine, Johnson denied that those adolescents were tortured and promised that US authorities would look into accusation of mishandling if it arose.

Quoting sources from the International Red Cross and the UN Children’s Fund, the “Report Mainz” reported on July 5 that US troops had detained Iraqi adolescents for so-called anti-occupation activities and often mistreated them. The German chapter of the Amnesty International hascalled for an independent investigation into the allegations of torturing Iraqi adolescents by American soldiers. UNICEF refused to go on the record publicly, saying that they fear for the safety of their workers in Iraq.

On the earlier program, they quoted U.S. Sergeant Samuel Provance about the torture of a 16-year-old.

“He was full of fear, very alone. He had the thinnest little arms that I have ever seen. His whole body shook. His wrists were so thin that we could not put handcuffs on him. As soon as I saw him for the first time and led him to the interrogation, I felt sorry for him. The interrogation specialists doused him with water and put him in a truck. Then they drove with him throughout the night, and at that time it was very, very cold. Then they smeared him with mud and showed him to his
likewise imprisoned father. With him [the father] they had tried out other interrogation methods. But they had not succeeded in making him talk. The interrogation specialists told me that after the father had seen his son in that condition, it broke his heart. He wept and promised to tell them what they wanted to know.”

An Iraqi TV reporter, Suhaib Badr-Addin Al-Baz, told a reporter for the German daily Der Spiegel that he had seen the prisons with his own eyes shortly after the original “Report Mainz” report.

“There I saw a camp for children. Young, under the age of puberty. In this camp were certainly hundreds of children. Some of them have been released, others are definitely still in there.”

From his solitary cell in the adults’ wing, Suhaib heard a perhaps 12-year-old girl weeping. Later he learned that her brother was on the third floor of the prison. One or two times, says Suhaib, he saw her himself.

In the night, according to Suhaib, they were with her in her cell. The girl shreeked out to the other prisoners and called out to her brother.

“She was beaten,” he said. “I heard her call: ‘They have undressed me. They have poured water over me.’”


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