Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Monday, April 28, 2003

More on what life was like under Saddam.

In 1974, Oshana, then a wiry 20-year-old kid preparing to go to law school, was accused of passing military secrets to the Kurds. He said he was innocent and believes he was arrested for being a minority -- one of about a half-million Christians in Iraq.

His story, he said, is indicative of an inhumane regime gripped with paranoia.

In prison, Oshana met a lawyer who was arrested because a Kurd parked 200 yards from his house. Another prisoner was a studio photographer locked away for allowing a Kurd to sit for a portrait.

To extract guilty pleas, Baath party officers pulled off prisoners' fingernails with pliers, spun them around on ceiling fans, burned their bodies with cigarettes and hot irons and smashed their feet on a feared torture tool called the Falaka.

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch estimate that Saddam's regime killed hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, if not millions. Oshana said the interrogators killed prisoners every day at the Mosul prison, where he was tortured for almost a month. Some were fed to Odai Hussein's prized lions, others were dropped in pools of acid. One of Oshana's prison friends -- a 22-year-old sugar factory worker -- had his testicles smashed against a broken beer bottle. That man died 11 days later.

Prior to Saddam's hasty retreat from office, Oshana did not talk about these experiences outside of his small circle of friends. He had escaped his execution, then a life sentence in prison, and finally Iraq. And he would not sacrifice any of that for a chance to speak.

"I don't fear the regime now," he said.

What does Oshana think of America?

There are no plans to return to Iraq, where three of his 11 siblings still live.

"The way I was tortured, the way I was treated, I don't ever want to visit. (The United States) is my country," he said. "This is the country who made me somebody."

< email | 4/28/2003 02:01:00 PM | link

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