The horror of Abu Naji

By Simon Barrow
March 14, 2008

A Christian lawyer who played a major role in exposing the killings in Abu Naji, northern Iraq, will speak at an inter-faith meeting in London tomorrow.

Also speaking will be Mazin Younis of the Iraqi League and the Rev David Moore. I am honoured to be chairing. (

In February 2008, a press conference was held by Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers, and Martyn Day, Leigh Day & Co, exposing the truth of Al-Majar:

What Martyn Day and I are about to reveal was shocking to us when we first heard it and we would be very surprised if it did not shock the nation. We are about to make available evidence that in May 2004 in a British Army base in Abu Naji in Southern Iraq, British soldiers may well have been responsible for

· The executions of up to 20 Iraqi civilians.
· The torture of many of these 20 before death.
· The torture of nine other survivors.
· Horrific bodily mutilations prior to some of the executions.

There is an important context to this incident. It is a matter of public record that there were serious systemic failings in the UK’s detention policy during the UK’s occupation of South East Iraq. The conclusions of the Secretary of State for Defence in the light of the Aitken report released at the end of January are that:

· There is no evidence of systematic abuse.
· There were a few isolated incidents of abuse committed by a few rotten apples.
· The military justice system involving soldiers investigating other soldiers and then different soldiers deciding whether any soldiers should be prosecuted before a Panel of soldiers is fit for purpose.

From our work we are clear that he is completely wrong. Leaving aside the evidence you are about to hear the public record shows that whilst in custody with UK forces:

· Iraqi civilians were killed
· Manyf Iraqis were tortured, abused or subjected to degrading or humiliating treatment.
· All Battle Groups were using hooding and stress techniques as Standard Operating Procedure.
· The five techniques banned by the Heath Government in 1972 returned (that is hooding, stressing, deprivation of sleep, deprivation of food and water, and the use of noise).
· Our interrogators were trained to use hooding and stressing and these were written policies.

Do not believe for one second that we make these allegations lightly or without the evidence available to substantiate every single word of what we say. Do not believe for one second those with most to hide – those who got the law and policy completely wrong – those who would have you believe there is nothing to face up to. Do not believe those who would have you think it was just a few rogue soldiers and just one man, Baha Mousa, who was tortured to death.

The full transcript is here:

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