Wednesday, May 24, 2006

12 years old - hauled off the street whipped with electric cables, violated with an electric drill, shot, body dragged through the streets

BAGHDAD - A 12-year-old Shi'ite Muslim boy was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head in the southern Dora district of Baghdad, police said. They said he was blindfolded, handcuffed and tortured.
Reuters May 23rd 2006

I got a 'phone call today (yesterday now it's gone midnight as I type) about this one from an old friend a brave American nun whom I admire. She had asked for and got a posting to El Salvador during the time of the death squads. Both of us had been dreading and expecting something like this. This follows the pattern of attrocities in El Salvador and to a somewhat lesser extent Bosnia. I've highlighted one or two particular points in the article.


Full Reuters story here

Torture, killing of 12-year-old horrifies Iraqi family
May signal a new level of sectarian violence

By Michael Georgy, Reuters | May 24, 2006

BAGHDAD -- Baghdad's sectarian hit squads don't spare the young.

The family of 12-year-old Hani Saadoun has been traumatized by that reality since his tortured body, mutilated by electric drills, was found yesterday. They had been in a state of fear since he failed to return home for lunch a day earlier.

It appears gunmen in three cars cornered him as he headed to work helping out at his father's parking lot, Interior Ministry sources and relatives said.

The Shi'ite family started panicking when he had not turned up by Monday evening. By the time they learned of his fate yesterday, he was just another statistic in Iraq's packed morgues.

The sense of loss mixed with shock as details of his brutal ordeal, shared by many dozens every day, became clear.

Saadoun's body was found dumped in southern Baghdad's violent, mostly Sunni Arab, district of Dora. It bore the hallmarks of sectarian tit-for-tat killings that have exploded since the bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in February.

The youngster, with a bullet hole in his head and another through the chest, was blindfolded and his hands bound. He had been whipped with cables, tormented by electric drills, and his body dragged through the streets behind a car.

There was no way of ruling out other possible reasons for his death. He could have been the victim of one of Iraq's bloody tribal feuds or criminal gangs. But one conclusion predominates in a country becoming familiar with corpses dumped by the road.

``This was definitely a sectarian killing," said the boy's uncle, a freelance journalist well known to Baghdad media, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

``Witnesses told us that gunmen in three Opel cars grabbed him at a checkpoint. We know he was tortured and we know they dragged him through the streets by a rope and dumped him."

While thousands of young children have been kidnapped for ransom or blown up in bombings, few appear to have been caught up in planned tit-for-tat sectarian abductions and killings.

If Saadoun's death was a sectarian slaying, it raises the possibility of a new level of ruthlessness.

It was also appalling bad luck. On a day off from school, eager to earn some pocket money, he set off to work at his father's lot. Normally his father or older brothers would have gone with him but, for the first time, they had pressing business at home and the youngster set off alone.

At Saadoun's funeral, women in traditional black Shi'ite shawls wailed as his mother Fatima Oraybi stared up at his crude wooden coffin on the roof of a car.

``Oh my son," she cried.

Others could not understand why he was targeted. The torture of such a young boy left his relatives shocked.

``What did he do? He was 12. He was not a general or a minister," said his cousin Amir Mohammad.

Saadoun's family are not taking any chances. They moved the mourning tent to a Baghdad district far from their neighborhood for fear they will now be targeted. ``We are afraid we will be next," said the uncle.

The new prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has vowed to use maximum force to crush the men of violence. But his security forces can be hesitant. Saadoun's uncle said police and troops refused to help recover the body because Dora was too dangerous.

``His father had to round up relatives and people from the neighborhood to get the body,"
he said. ``He had nothing to do with sectarianism or politics. He was just a boy."

See also: Easily Dispensable: Iraq's Children