Alert: Briton Detained and Tortured in Iraq

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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19 September 2007

Alert: Briton Detained and Tortured in Iraq

Contents

1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action Required

1. Summary

Mohammed Hussein is a British citizen who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in Iraq last month, upon allegations of terrorism. He was detained with hundreds of other people in late January this year and was accused of being a member of ‘Soldiers of Heaven’, an Iraqi insurgents group. However, he has denied all these allegations and claims that he has been severely beaten and tortured.

1. Background

Mohammed Hussein went to Iraq with his wife, Ebtihal Hussein, and son to visit his ill mother in Najaf in January 2007. There was an armed conflict near Najaf between the Iraqi government forces backed by the US army and Iraqi militants which started on 27 January 2007 and continued till the next day. More than 250 people were killed in the battle. Mr Hussein’s mother and sister were also killed in the attack.

The Iraqi government blamed the Soldiers of Heaven group for the violence in Najaf, claiming that they planned to assassinate Shia religious leaders. However, the opposition forces put the blame of the massacre on the government.

Mr Hussein and his family were arrested on 28 January 2007, when they came out of their house after the bombings stopped. Mr Hussein was kept separate from his wife and was tortured badly. He said that his captors tried pulling his nails out and twisted his arms. Mrs Hussein stated that her husband was hung by the arms and now he has been left with a deformity. She was detained along with her son for two months and witnessed a woman being hung from the ceiling and beaten till her legs were ‘blue.’ She returned back to UK in March 2007 and is very worried about her husband.

Mr Hussein’s brother-in-law is alleged to be the leader of Soldiers of Heaven, which may explain why the Iraqi government is after Mr Hussein. However, he has denied any involvement with the group. According to Mr Hussein he was told by his captors to say that he was a British spy and that he is supporting the insurgents with his money. However Mr Hussein has vehemently denied all these charges and has declared himself innocent of any ulterior motives behind his visit to Iraq.

He remains detained in Iraq at the time of writing of this article. According to Mr Hussein’s sister who visits him regularly, he has lost a lot of weight, and some times coughs up blood and has received medical treatment once. His case has been referred to the courts in Najaf but it may be a long time before he is seen and released. Due to the war in Iraq and lack of legal infrastructure in the country, it is hard to expect due process and a fair trial in Mr Hussein’s case.

The Foreign Office in London has stated that it cannot offer ‘full consular support’ to Mr Hussein as he is a dual national, having both British and Iraqi citizenships. However, it is important to note that Mr Hussein does not possess an Iraqi passport and has always traveled under British identity documents; hence he cannot be considered an Iraqi national officially. The FCO has requested the Red Crescent to visit Mr Hussein but that has not been possible owing to the security issues in Iraq.

2. Action Required

a) Write to the Rt. Hon. David Miliband, Foreign Secretary of UK, and urge him to make efforts to ensure Mr Hussein’s immediate and safe return to UK.

Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Fax: +44 0207 839 2417
Email: private.office@fco.gov.uk

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Sample letter is given below for your convenience

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[Date]

Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr David Miliband,

Re: British Citizen Detained in Iraq

I am very concerned about British citizen, Mohammed Hussein who has been detained in Najaf since January 2007 upon allegations of belonging to the Iraqi insurgents group, Soldiers of Heaven.

Mr Hussein went to Iraq with his family for the sole purpose of visiting his ill mother in Najaf. After the armed conflict near Najaf between US-backed Iraqi forces and insurgents, in which many people were massacred, Mr Hussein was arrested with his family.

He was badly tortured and beaten including attempts to pull out his finger nails. There is no evidence of any terrorism against Mr Hussein and he has denied any involvement in any insurgent group.

Your office has stated that Mr Hussein cannot be offered full consular services because he is a dual national, both British as well as Iraqi. However, Mr Hussein does not possess an Iraqi passport and has always traveled under British identity documents; hence he cannot be considered an Iraqi national officially.

He is a British citizen in a country where there is neither due process nor any guarantee of a fair trial; hence he requires your immediate attention. Britain has a strong influence internationally, hence I urge you to utilize this influence in ensuring Mr Hussein’s immediate and safe return to UK.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent matter,

Yours sincerely,

[Your Signature]

[Your Name]

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“And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.”
Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75
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