News Flash

AI Index: MDE 14/097/2003 (Public)
News Service No: 103
25 April 2003
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Iraq: Stripped naked and humiliated by US soldiers
Amnesty International expressed concern today at the disturbing
article and images portrayed in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet
which show American soldiers escorting naked Iraqi men through a park
in Baghdad. The pictures reveal that someone has written the
words 'Ali Baba - Haram(i)' (which means Ali Baba - thief) in Arabic
on the prisoners' chests.

The article quotes a US military officer as saying that this
treatment is an effective method of deterring thieves from entering
the park and is a method which will be used again; another US
military officer is quoted as saying that US soldiers are not allowed
to treat prisoners inhumanely.

"If these pictures are accurate, this is an appalling way to treat
prisoners. Such degrading treatment is a clear violation of the
responsibilities of the occupying powers," Amnesty International said

"Whatever the reason for their detention, these men must at all times
be treated humanely. The US authorities must investigate this
incident and publicly release their findings."

Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly states
that "Protected persons are entitled in all circumstances, to respect
for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious
convictions and practices, and their manner and customs. They shall
at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially
against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults
and public curiosity".

To link to the article from Dagbladet please go to:

For a full copy of Amnesty International's report: Iraq:
Responsibilities of the occupying powers please go
TimesonLine UK
April 26, 2003

Troops `paraded naked thieves'
By Philip Pank

AMERICAN soldiers guarding an arms dump in Baghdad stripped four
suspected Iraqi thieves, burnt their clothes and forced them on to
the streets naked, witnesses said early this morning.
A Muslim member of the Delta Squadron 10 Engineer Corps is alleged to
have written "Ali Baba. Haram" in Arabic across the men's chests
before they were evicted at gunpoint from an amusement park in the

Reports of the incident provoked outrage from human rights
organisations. Treating prisoners in such a way would be a clear
breach of the Geneva Convention.

"We suddenly saw four naked Iraqi guys with four American soldiers,"
Line Fransson, a journalist for Dagbladet, the Norwegian newspaper,
said. "We thought they were going to the bathroom. They went into a
building and a minute later (the soldiers) pushed them out into the
main street."

The soldiers' commanding officer, First Lieutenant Eric Canaday,
confirmed that his men had stripped the Iraqis. "We took their
clothes and burnt them and then we pushed them out with thief written
on them," he was quoted as telling the journalist.

Lieutenant Canaday said that local residents had suggested stripping
would-be thieves as a deterrent.

He claimed that young men had been trying to steal light weapons that
the Iraqi Army had stockpiled at the Zawra amusement park. He said
that his soldiers had meted out a similar punishment on a previous

The phrase scrawled across the mens' chests in black marker pen is a
reference to the tale of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves and can be
roughly translated as the vernacular for "sinful thieves".

Amnesty International condemned the incident. "Such degrading
treatment is a clear violation of the responsibilities of the
occupying powers. The US authorities must investigate this incident
and publicly release their findings," the organisation said last

One of the four men, whose pictures appeared in the Norwegian press,
gave his name as Ziad, aged 20. "Ziad said he was so angry being
humiliated by the soldiers that the only thing he wanted to do was
find a grenade and throw it at the American soldiers and all the
other ones in the city," Ms Fransson said.

A spokesman for US forces in Iraq said: "It certainly does not sound
like the type of incident we have seen during this operation." He did
not say if there would an investigation.,,5944-659724,00.html