Baha Mousa – British Army Torture Inquiry Opens


was kept with other Iraqis under the control of British troops, and with the knowledge of their officers and various intelligence officials.

They were systematically beaten and tortured from the moment they were arrested, using all the methods that the Israelis had developed in Palestine for mentally and physically torturing Arabs, and inflicting pain and humiliation on them.

There was nothing accidental in all of this. The methods used were the same from Occupied Palestine, to Abu Ghraib, to Basra – to torture, humiliate and murder Arabs.

What stands out in the case of the British torturers in Basra was, whereas some of their opposite numbers in the US forces in the Abu Ghraib prison were punished, the court martial of the British torturers whitewashed them, with only one soldier getting a one-year sentence for inhumane treatment.

This was done with the full spotlight of the world’s media on them.

The British Army obviously decided to let the whole world know that in its official opinion the lives of Iraqis were completely worthless.

Yesterday on Day One of the inquiry, it was told that one Iraqi was forced to dance like Michael Jackson and another was urinated on.

It heard other allegations that one Iraqi had his face burnt when it was held next to a generator, and that a man was forced to lie face-down over a hole in the ground filled with excrement, and the detainees were ‘continually beaten’ around the clock till their howls of pain formed a ‘chorus’.

Gerard Elias QC, counsel to the inquiry, said: ‘There can be little doubt that the detainees, or some of them, were the targets of physical assaults.

‘They were beaten more or less continuously over the 48-hour period, kicked and punched a very large number of times, especially in the kidneys and lower back.’

Two days after Baha Mousa was taken he was dead. A post-mortem examination showed he suffered asphyxiation and had at least 93 injuries to his body, including fractured ribs and a broken nose. It was not an accidental death.

In April 2007, all but one of the seven solders charged were were cleared on all counts at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire, but Cpl Donald Payne, 36, was jailed for a year and dismissed from the Army.

The court martial verdict showed that torture and murder are part and parcel of imperialism, and part and parcel of British imperialism and the British Army in particular.

No attempt to sanitise the situation will change that.

In fact, the history of British imperialism is one of atrocity after atrocity.

The British ruling class invented the concentration camp and put it to use during the Boer war to separate Boer fighters from their families.

The record of the British ruling class in Ireland is one long atrocity, including the famine and the depopulation of the country, the introduction of the Black and Tans during the war of independence with their license to burn and kill, right up to the formation of the ‘shoot-to-kill’ death squads in the north of Ireland and the Loyalist killer gangs.

Even now there is a legal action going on over the bloodthirsty attempts by the British ruling class to destroy the ‘Land and Freedom Army’ (Mau Mau) in Kenya during the ‘emergency’ when large numbers of Kenyans were tortured and killed in hell-holes such as the Hola Camp.

Nothing, including the current inquiry can whitewash bloodsoaked British imperialism and its state apparatus.

The only thing that can be done with this state and its armed forces is to do humanity a favour and destroy both with a socialist revolution.