View Full Version : Rock-Hurling Prisoners Riot at Main U.S. POW Camp

04-13-03, 02:43 PM
By Saul Hudson

UMM QASR, Iraq (Reuters) - Hurling rocks, bottles filled with sand and wooden stakes, detainees at the only permanent U.S. prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq (news - web sites) riot almost daily, military officials said on Sunday.

Anger over slow food lines or disputes between different ethnic groups can spark uprisings -- especially with ringleaders quick to incite riots inside the prison that houses about 6,000 Iraqis under long white open tents, they said.

"Pretty much every day there's a riot. It can get real ugly in there for the MPs (military police)," said Maj. Joel Droba of the 13th Psychological Operations battalion, which broadcasts orders for calm over loudspeakers and interrogates prisoners to weed out instigators.

On Sunday, clashes broke out when some prisoners opposed an Iraqi general attempting to organize a hunger strike, he said. Hours later, the camp appeared calm to a Reuters correspondent.

Prisoners wearing T-shirts and trousers milled around or chatted in groups of up to a dozen. Some gazed at the guards, leaning on the 6-foot-high chain-linked fence topped with barbed wire and draped with bright red blankets billowing in gusty winds.

The riots have generally not been widespread among the prisoners but military police have regularly had to enter to quell violence at the camp, which is a few miles outside Umm Qasr at the southeastern tip of Iraq.

"They'll throw anything. There's rock throwing, bottles filled with sand and crude weapons like the tent stakes," said Sgt. Brian Mathias.


The United States has been criticized by rights groups for shackling, blindfolding and housing prisoners captured during the war in Afghanistan (news - web sites) in open cages in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Capt. Lisa Weidenbush, the U.S. operations officer for the camp, said the United States was sensitive about that criticism but assured visiting journalists who were kept at about 300 from the prisoners their treatment was "humane."

"I can tell you from firsthand knowledge they are being taken care of very well," she said.

Tamara al-Rifai, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said they had interviewed about 3,800 prisoners over the last week at the camp but declined to comment on the prison conditions.

British troops built the camp outside Umm Qasr, the first Iraqi town to be taken in the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).

Receiving Iraqis from all over the battlefield, they placed the prisoners in tents that can hold about 250 people each and provided them with hot meals such as rice and vegetables.

British and Spanish military doctors tend to prisoners' gunshot and shrapnel wounds and give them medicine for chronic illnesses, such as diabetes.

The guards play Iraqi music, broadcast readings from the Koran and have laid out carpets for the prisoners to pray, military officials said.

Last week, a roughly 800-strong U.S. military police force took command of the camp and plans in the next few days to transfer the prisoners to a new complex on the site where they will be in tents in groups of up to 15 and have running water.

The United States labeled the prisoners held in the U.S. Navy (news - web sites) base in Cuba as "unlawful combatants" -- a classification that means they are not automatically afforded the rights of the Geneva Convention given to prisoners of war.

All the detainees at Umm Qasr had prisoner of war status and none were known to be non-Iraqi, military officials said. U.S. troops planned to hold tribunals that might classify prisoners as "unlawful combatants" if they met certain criteria, including fighting without any identification, Maj. Doug Proietto said.



04-13-03, 07:28 PM
They should replace the American guards with Kurds.

04-13-03, 07:40 PM
the Red Cross said they had interviewed about 3,800 prisoners over the last week at the camp but declined to comment on the prison conditions.

How amny American prisoners did the Red Cross visit?

Did they try to look after Jessica Lynch's welfare?

Screw them!