Iraq/Occupied Kuwait: Testimony B

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A 19-year-old student arrested on 11 September after failing to hand over weapons to the Iraqi authorities. He was detained for two weeks at a private house in al-Jahra' and subjected to torture. He survived an attempt to execute him by firing squad on 24 September [the names below have been changed to prevent identification]:

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"I was arrested on 11 September. The Iraqis first came looking for me at my home in the district al-Rawda, but I was not there. I was at a diwaniyya in a nearby house. So the soldiers came there and arrested me and another person. First they took me to al-Kadhima Sports Club, where I remained for about two hours. Then they took me to a private house in al-Jahra', where I was held for two weeks. I was put in a room with other detainees. We were 32 altogether in that room, but I estimate that there were about 120 detainees in the whole house. They were all males of varying ages. There were young boys aged 14 or 15, and men as old as 80.

For the first days I remained in that room. I was handcuffed and blindfolded the whole time, as were all the others. They gave us no food. There was even nothing to lean on to rest my body. I was not interrogated during those three days, but we were all subjected to constant beatings and kicking by the guards. They used to come into the room and threaten us: either you confess, or else we have 22 officers here in this house to deal with you. Then after three days I was called for interrogation. The Iraqis had found weapons in my home, which I had had before the invasion. They repeatedly asked me why I had failed to hand over the weapons to them. During the interrogation I was blindfolded and beaten repeatedly. Then I was handcuffed and suspended by the hands from the ceiling. After that they applied electricity to various parts of my body, including my chest. Apart from questioning me about the weapons, they also asked if I knew any foreigners and where they were hiding. Also, if I knew of the whereabouts of any diplomats, members of the armed forces and members of the al-Sabah family. They asked me about specific individuals whom they named. I didn't know any of them except for one, who was a major in the Kuwaiti army, but I did not reveal that to them.

I was interrogated several times over the next four days. It was always the same questions and the same torture. If I said anything which contradicted what I had said in an earlier interrogation session, the torture would become more severe. In the final week of my detention, there was no more interrogation, but the usual beating of all the detainees continued. Then, on the last day [ie. 24 September) at 2.30 in the morning, a captain came and told us that the President had ordered the release of all the detainees. Some of the detainees in the room with me, especially the old men, thanked him. The captain said that they were going to release us in groups, and called out the names of twelve people. I was one of them.

They blindfolded us and tied our hands behind our backs. We were taken onto a bus and then driven to another place, where two more people boarded. Then they took us to Dasman Palace. I knew we were because one of the other detainees was able to see a little from below his blindfold. At Dasman Palace we remained on the bus for about half an hour. Then an officer came and told us we were going to be taken to our homes. I was led into a car with two other detainees, Samir, a 23-year-old officer who lived in the district of al-Faiha', and Muhammad, aged 23 or 24, who lived close to me in al-Rawda (I don't know his profession).

We were all still blindfolded and handcuffed, but as we approached the district of al-Faiha' the soldiers removed Samir's blindfold so that he could direct them to his home. But when we arrived there, they told us to all get out of the car. Muhammad and I asked why, because we didn't live there. They made us get out of the car anyway, blindfolded Samir again and made us stand at the doorstep of a house. I realised at that moment that we were going to be executed. I remember it was just after the dawn prayers. The first shot was fired and I heard Samir fall to the ground. Two bullets grazed my head but neither of them penetrated my skull. I fell to the ground, and when Muhammad was shot he fell down on top of me. The soldiers then came up to us, took the blindfolds and handcuffs and went away. They must have believed we were all dead.

My head was bleeding profusely. I crawled over to Samir and raised his head, trying to revive him. I thought he had been pretending, just like me. Then I saw the bullet hole in his head, and just at that moment he died. I couldn't believe what was happening. I went over to Muhammad and found him dead too. I managed to drag their bodies over to one side, and recited a short prayer for them. Then I started walking. I didn't know where I was going, but I was afraid that the soldiers would come back. I was looking for someone to help me, but it was dawn and the streets were empty. I started feeling faint, so I went up to a house and knocked on the door. No one answered, but the door was not locked and I went in. As I was looking for a telephone an old man and three women came out of one of the rooms. The man asked me what I wanted, so I told him what had just happened. At first he didn't believe me. I told him where the two bodies were, and he went to look for himself. When he came back he said I could stay with them.

I stayed for three days. One of the old man's daughters was a nurse, and she treated me as best she could Then I called my family and my father came to collect me. I learned that, in my absence, he had been looking for me. After paying a sum of money to an Iraqi officer at a police station in the 'Abdallah al-Salem district, he was told that I had been executed. My father had then gone looking for my body in the hospitals. At Mubarak Hospital he found my name on a list of executed people. So my family naturally thought I was dead, and they were receiving mourners at our home. They couldn't believe I was still alive. I found them at home crying.

Of course I couldn't stay with them at home, in case the Iraqis found out that I was still alive and came after me again. So I went into hiding until, some three weeks later, I was able to leave Kuwait ..."

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/02/iraq-occupied-kuwait-testimony-b/303757/