IRAQ UPDATE: August 15-20, 2004

in:

CPTnet
August 28, 2004

IRAQ UPDATE: August 15-20, 2004

Sunday, August 15, 2004
The team heard occasional explosions throughout the day and learned from the
news that the attacks had increased because the Iraqi National Conference in
Baghdad had established an interim council to oversee the interim government
and ensure successful elections by the end of January 2005.

 Monday, August 16, 2004 Because the curfew imposed on areas around the
conference site had closed the Iraq Assistance Center (IAC), CPTers were
unable to accompany a man to the IAC. Because of MNF I roadblocks around the
town of Abu Ghraib, an Iraqi friend planning to visit the team was unable to
come.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Just after Mabel Brunk and David Milne arrived by plane at the Baghdad
Airport, the airport closed. Greg Rollins was unable to fly to Amman as
scheduled and extended his time with the team in Baghdad.

A reporter from Pacifica Radio interviewed Peggy Gish about children in
Iraq, for their "Flashpoint" program.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Rollins and Milne went to the Ministry of Human Rights to follow up on a
letter requesting permission to visit Abu Ghraib prison, but the contact
person was not available.

Brunk and Gish accompanied an Iraqi man to the Scania U.S. military base to
check on the status of his uncle who remains in detention at the Iraqi
Police Station in Al Dora despite the fact that the military had brought no
charges against him. (See IRAQ UPDATE: July 29 August 1, 2004.) The military
officers involved in the case were not available, so CPTers made an
appointment for the following day.

Thursday, August 19, 2004
Once again, roadblocks around the town of Abu Ghraib prevented a friend of
the team from visiting.

Rollins and Milne went to the Free Prisoners Society (FPS) in Baghdad to
follow up on four cases referred to CPT in October 2003. The team had been
unable to locate the people involved on lists of detainees. The FPS told
them they had no information about these cases and were mostly focusing
their work on victims of the former regime.

Brunk and Gish returned to Scania U.S. Military Base with an Iraqi man. At a
security checkpoint an American soldier asked them if the Iraqi man and
CPTer's translator were their bodyguards. The team's translator responded,
"God is our bodyguard!"

Inside the base, they talked with Executive Officer Harper. Harper showed a
picture of men standing in a crater and brought in a soldier with scars on
his neck from shrapnel. He said the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that
the man in the Al Dora jail had produced caused these injuries. The man in
jail was still not formally charged, but they planned to keep him in jail
until they completed their case against him. Harper said an Iraqi court
would try him. CPTers challenged the lack of due process in his case and
questioned whether the Iraqi court system would handle a security detainee.

Radio Adelaide, from Australia, interviewed Maxine Nash.
  Friday, August 20, 2004 The team heard periodic explosions throughout the
morning.

Brunk, Milne, and Gish visited the Holy Family Chaldean Church at the time
of its Friday religious education school. Since the bombings two weeks ago
in area churches, they have closed the school until the situation is less
dangerous. There was, however, a group of handicapped young adults playing
volleyball in the church courtyard. The priest told CPTers that a friend of
the team, who used to teach a teenage class at the school, was in Jordan
with her family, applying for a visa to move to Australia.

A reporter from Pacifica Radio interviewed Gish for their "Flashpoint"
program, about how Iraqis felt about the MNF-I siege of the Imam Ali Shrine
in Najaf.