Sunday, September 28, 2008

Looking glass

Extract: "... The 14 prisoners were brought in handcuffed. The few journalists present were ordered not to take pictures until the cuffs were removed. Behind each of the men sat a "guarantor" for a "bond" they would sign. "It's not an oath on the Koran," Frank explained. "It's on their honor. A guarantor is a mentor, just like in the US when an individual runs into trouble with the law and somebody steps up to mentor them. The reconciliation committee wants to see these 14 men do well." The Iraqis seemed slightly amused.

"We want to make this a special event," Frank said, asking the restless men to quiet down. "Thank you for being patient, but this is for you." Prisoners and guarantors got up pair by pair to sign each bond. An Iraqi lieutenant colonel played his part. "The government is in control now," he scolded, "not like before. There is a state and there is law." He urged them to join the army or the police. Frank was uncertain what to call the prisoners, since "detainees" was no longer accurate. "We will now ask each individual to stand," he said. "Raise your right hand. Guarantors, put your left hand on the shoulder of the individual."

The men began: "I acknowledge that recent signings of the Reconciliation Agreement have ushered in an era of peace and partnership between Shia, Sunni, Kurdish, Christian, the Jaysh al Mahdi, Iraqi Security Forces, and American Forces. Based on a review of my arrest record, Iraqi Government and Coalition Force leaders have agreed that my immediate release would be beneficial to the reconciliation process. I pledge to not commit any violations of the Reconciliation Agreement's 12 points, violate Iraqi Law, or attack Coalition Forces." The men were not told what the 12 points were. "As a proud Iraqi citizen living in Northwest Rashid"—a geographic designation that Iraqis do not use—"I will become a contributing member of the community in the historic effort to rebuild this proud nation." The guarantors swore that they were "bound by honor" to notify American or Iraqi authorities if the "individual" violated the oath.

Then Frank spoke. "The coalition would like to welcome all the members of the free Jihad community," he said. "The area of Jihad has been changed a lot. Violence has been reduced tremendously, and this reconciliation is proof." He did not explain with whom the freed men were reconciling. "With your release from detention, we expect that you will become part of the reconciliation, and we look forward to working with you and the guarantor, the person behind you. All the citizens of Baghdad are watching Jihad now," he added, even though the only Iraqi journalist present was a lone freelance cameraman..."

Read the rest at the link above.....

And reprinted from a Nov 13th, 2007 observation, 'Through the looking glass' about Iraqi civilian detainees/prisoners:
  • "Task Force 134 Detainee Operations... work daily to reunite detainees with their families during the holy month of Ramadan. As part of their release process detainees go through a reintegration and education program to help them succeed in Iraq today..." The "up tempo release schedule" has been releasing more than 50 detainees a day.
  • "... the Combined Review and Release Board (CRRB), which is an administrative review held for every detainee within six months of their arrival and periodically throughout detention. The board is comprised of Iraqi government officials and senior Coalition Force officers .... If the board determines that a detainee poses an imperative threat to security and stability here, the detainee is notified of the reasons in writing, and the case set for another review within six months. In addition to the CRRB, a separate board reviews each detainee case after 18 months of detention. The Joint Detention Review Committee (JDRC), comprised of Iraqi government officials and senior Coalition Force officers, is unique in that the presumption is in favor of release. Should further detention be recommended, the detainee as well as the detainee’s family are provided notice of the decision...."
  • Per Task Force 134 commander Major General Doug Stone "we had a mother so overjoyed she fainted." Detainees offered release, he added, became "just over-ecstatic that they get to make a choice" of which gate to use to depart.
  • "The Coalition Forces and the Government of Iraq have been working together to develop new education, medical and judicial programs to ensure preparation of detainees for release and reintegration into society..."
  • This past week over 500 detainees were released in a mass ceremony. While seated on rows of white chairs awaiting a speech from Nouri al-maliki, in the background a band struck up and started playing... The Battle Hymn of the Republic!

Freedom Journal Iraq
Release Ceremony for Almost 500 Detainees Overseen by Iraqi PM
Government of Iraq, MNF-I launch joint venture to expand detainee reintegration programs