AFTER the killing and torture of Baha Mousa in Iraq was supplemented by a court martial that refused to convict those responsible for his murder (he sustained 93 injuries), the name of the British army and its reputation stinks.
However, Baha Mousa was only one of a number of Iraqi civilians who were killed or tortured by British troops in Iraq.
In the current Baha Mousa legal case an intelligence officer, (giving evidence behind a screen on Tuesday) said that an officer of the regiment had told her that his soldiers held the view that ‘all Iraqis were scum’.
Now it has been admitted by the British government that its troops in Afghanistan have handed over hundreds of prisoners, some of them of British nationality, to the Afghan secret police and that the allegations of torture against these police have ‘potential substance’.
The Evans v Secretary of State for Defence judicial review concluded yesterday. The closing argument from the Claimant highlighted the growing number of allegations of torture by the Afghan secret service (the ‘NDS’), made by former British prisoners following handover, and the woeful inadequacy of the safeguards that have been put in place by the government.
British prison inspectors are currently being denied access to see the prisoners held by the NDS in Helmand.
Over two days, closed evidence had been heard regarding the involvement of MI6. It is already known that MI6 were aware of Afghan torture as early as March 2007, but that British handovers did not cease at this time.
Yesterday the High Court heard claims that at least eight men transferred by the army to the NDS, say they were tortured.
One claims he was told he would be shot if he did not sign a confession; others say they were given electric shocks and were beaten with cables and sticks.
Between July 2006 – when they entered Helmand province – and September 2009, the British army transferred more than 300 suspected insurgents to the NDS.
The UK government accepts that several allegations of serious mistreatment at an NDS facility in Kabul known as Department 17 ‘may have substance’.
These include claims that one man, Prisoner A, was beaten every other day for more than two months; another, Prisoner C, says he was beaten and electrocuted ‘on his fingers, toes and palms of his feet by six men whilst hung from the ceiling’.
The court heard that allegations of abuse by the NDS were investigated by the NDS itself, a situation that was described as ‘quite extraordinary’.
The court heard that torture by the NDS was ingrained into its practices and that ‘its primary method of obtaining convictions is by obtaining confessions’.
In a skeleton legal argument presented by the claimant, a 2007 report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was cited.
This said that ‘reports of the use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment by the NDS are frequent’.
Maya Evans, who was convicted of a breach of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, for reading out the names of 97 British soldiers killed in Iraq, at an unauthorised protest at the Cenotaph, who is the claimant in the judicial review, commented: ‘We now know that British monitoring consists of asking a prisoner whether he has been tortured by the NDS when NDS guards are stood in the room, and now the NDS are denying access even for this.
‘The evidence is clear that there is a very high risk of torture.
‘This government’s complicity must stop.’
However, the British armed forces are an instrument of British imperialist policy.
Imperialism itself is an atrocity, a concentrated assault on oppressed nations in order to enslave them and steal their natural resources, doing whatever is necessary. The British army carries out this imperialist assault for the ruling class. Its conduct in doing this cannot be any other than an atrocity.
The only way to get rid of imperialism and the atrocities that it carries out is through the working class carrying out socialist revolutions in the imperialist states. The number one task of these revolutions is the overthrow of the ruling classes and the smashing up of their state machines, including their officer corps and armed forces. This is the only way, to make the world a safe place for ordinary people and the formerly oppressed nations.