In Wendesday’s Reuters article on Broken Laws, Broken Lives, reporter Deborah Charles spoke to one of the medical evaluators and report co-author Allen Keller and to PHR President Len Rubenstein.
Dr. Keller is recognized internationally as an expert in the documentation, evaluation and treatment of torture victims. Since 1995, he has directed the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and has worked with countless refugees and asylum seekers who were victims of torture. Speaking about the seven men evaluated for the report who had been prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Keller said:
As a physician with more than 15 years of experience evaluating and caring for torture victims from all over the world, the torture and abuse these men were subjected to in Abu Ghraib and the resulting trauma are second to none.
Len Rubenstein elaborated:
“Another key finding is that the authorized techniques, many of which themselves amount to torture, begat yet additional forms of torture, proving once again that once torture starts it can’t be contained,” Rubenstein said.
The report gave one example of the case of a man named Amir, who was arrested by U.S. forces in Iraq in August 2003.
Amir said while at Abu Ghraib prison he was placed in a foul-smelling room and forced to lay face down in urine while he was hit and kicked. He was also sodomized with a broomstick and forced to howl like a dog while a soldier urinated on him. After a soldier stepped on his genitals, he fainted.
Rubenstein also emphasized one of the key findings in Broken Laws, Broken Lives. Beyond the immediate “gratuitous cruelty” inflicted on the former detainees, the men have continued to suffer for years, long after their release from US custody.
Amir continues to experience physical and psychological symptoms nearly four years after being released, the report said.
Rubenstein said the report showed the extent of the men’s pain and suffering — now and at the time of their detention.
“The pain from the beatings and stress positions, including suspension, combined with feelings of humiliation and shame was so bad it led seven men to consider suicide despite prohibitions in the Muslim religion,” he said
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