Saturday, October 31, 2009

War Crime Commission Hearing: Statutory Declaration by Salam Fanar Zabin

I, SALAM FANAR ZABIN (Iraqi Passport No. G2399607) of full age and a citizen of Iraq do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare as follows:

1. I am 24 years old.

2. I now live in Damascus, Syria.

3. The purpose of making this declaration is to put on record my torture in the Baghdad Airport prison (for 7 days) and Saladdin (for 3 days) and in Abu Ghraib prison (for 6 months).

4. I was 17 years old when I was detained on 19 October 2003 in my home at the Al Jehad area near the Baghdad Airport at midnight. I was at home with my father and the electricity supply to the whole area was cut off when there was a huge blast and the American soldiers broke into the house. My father is disabled with artificial legs. Both of us were taken in a tank to Baghdad Airport. We were put in separate cells. The cell was 1 ¾ by 2 meters. A hood was placed on my head and I was forced to sit on my knees in the middle of the cell. After some hours later I was taken for questioning. I was not told why I was detained. Later I was given a form to fill and in the form it was written I was accused of being part of the resistance.

5. In another room there were 2 Americans in civilian clothes and another person who spoke in Arabic. I was asked where is Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction. And who is behind the resistance. I said I do not know anything as I was only 17 years old at that time. They threatened that if I did not tell them any information they would send my father to Guantanamo Bay.

6. The interrogator then ordered I be taken to the black room where I was tied and my head was hit against the corner of the walls. My clothes were torn and I was in my underwear. My hands were tied and I was forced to crawl on my elbows and knees on the wet slippery cold floor covered with ice cubes and soap. My elbows and arms started to bleed. I also heard screaming and crying of other prisoners.

7. My hood was lifted and ice cubes were shoved into the hood and I was shoved onto the ground. I was then hit by a stick and kicked by the boots of the soldiers on both sides of my body. I could feel blood was flowing out of my wounds. After a while I could not feel anything due to the pain and the ice cubes on my head which made me feel numb.

8. I was taken back to my cell and my hood was removed and I saw my chest hair was removed and I was bleeding profusely. I was hurt all over my body. The cell had no roof with a cement floor with a plastic covering and I felt very cold as the cold outside air was coming into the cell. I had no clothes besides my pants. I did not have any amenities in the cell.

9. I was not given food and was only given some water for the 3 days I was in my cell. I was repeatedly questioned about my personal background. I was also asked again where is Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction. A food bag was thrown in my cell everyday and before I could take the bag the cell door would be opened and the bag would be removed. All the time I was verbally abused.

10. I was then taken to Saladdin prison by helicopter and I was still in my short pants and a hood was placed over my head. In the helicopter I was asked to squat with the door opened for the duration of the flight. This was done so as if there were any attack on the helicopter I would be in the line of fire.

11. When the helicopter landed I was transferred to a pick up truck and taken to a spot where I was then taken by another pick up truck to a place where I was in a room where they removed my hood. The room was a normal room with a sofa and 2 chairs. I was still not given any clothes.

12. I was in the room for half an hour or so and taken to another room which was an office and there I met Colonel J an American sitting with his feet on the table. I was asked to sit. I was offered tea, chocolate, juice and whiskey. The Colonel was chewing betel nut. I did not take any of the food and drinks offered. I was shown a list of 20 names and a picture of some people – some of whom I recognised because there are known in the country but whom I do not know personally. I said I am too young to know these people.

13. The Colonel got up and tried to tie my hands behind the chair. The chair was big and this could not be done. The Colonel called in soldiers and they tied my hands and put plastic bag on my head and it began to suffocate me. They kept asking me the same questions on the 20 persons and Saddam Hussein and slapped me many times. I struggled to breathe due to the tight plastic bag but I managed to bite a small opening that allowed me to breathe. I became unconscious. I awoke later in the first room.

14. Later they took me in a car with some soldiers. I was given an Iraqi flowing shirt, pants and slippers. I was taken to identify the homes of the same 20 people in Saladdin. I said I do not know where these people live because I stay in Baghdad.

15. I was brought back and my clothes were taken away. My hands were tied and my head hooded. Again I heard screams and sounds. I was very scared. And suddenly I was thrown in to water and I struggled because I cannot swim. A rope was tied to me and I was then dragged where the water was shallow and then dragged to the where the water was deeper. I realised I was in a swimming pool. This went on possibly for half an hour. I was removed out and placed in a room where the air conditioning was very cold and my hood was removed. One of the soldiers brought a towel to be placed under my feet so as not to wet the floor.

16. I felt something going out of my left lower leg but I could not feel what was it due to the freezing condition that I was in. They then dragged me from the hood. My hood was removed and I saw my leg was bleeding. My leg was then bandaged.

17. I had not eaten for 10 days. An interpreter told me that I would be taken back to Baghdad. I was taken in the same manner back to Baghdad.

18. Once I reached Baghdad I was taken to Abu Ghraib prison. I was taken to be registered in the prison and a number was given to me. I was given a blanket, tooth brush and a cup. I was then taken to the prison compound where tents had been pitched.

19. At the tent a Major gave me slippers to wear. There were 28 tents. Each tent had about 30 to 45 persons and there was a toilet. We were only allowed a few seconds shower once a week. We were fed 3 times a day but the food was very bad.

20. The Americans would also make periodic searches in the tents and harass the prisoners and at times they would take the prisoners copy of the Quran and and throw it on the floor and stomp on it with their boots.

21. I was not called for any questioning in Abu Ghraib. The prisoners would protest their detention and the poor prison conditions. One day there was a prison protest and the American soldiers responded to stop the protest by using live ammunition and grenades.

22. During this protest I was injured in my left eye. I fell on the ground. I was taken into the prison clinic. A piece of shrapnel had pieced the upper lid of my eye. They treated my wound and gave me some medication. They informed me that I will need surgery but there were no facilities in the clinic. I have since lost sight in my left eye.

23. I was released on 2 April 2004. All our property and assets were taken by the ruling government. I then returned to my family’s home town of Saladdin. From there I and members of my family moved to Syria.

24. I attach herewith the conditional release letter from Abu Gharib marked as Exhibit S-1. I also attach my medical report marked Exhibit S-2.

25. I wish to state that when I was detained there were no grounds to do so. Further, I was under aged and placed in prison with adults and in the process was tortured and abused. I could not finish my schooling and my future has been severely damaged by the wrongful actions of the American forces. I have also lost my eyesight in my left eye. My family was a well to do family based on our ancestral family wealth and we lost everything due to the invasion and the baseless persecution against me. I make a living by repairing mobile phones in order to support my family in Syria.

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declaration Act 1960.

Subscribed and solemnly declared by the above named

SALAM FANAR ZABIN on ___ October 2009 at Kuala Lumpur through the Interpretation of SHAIMA F. HUSSEIN with the said been first affirmed that she had truly, distinctly and audibly translated the contents of this Statutory Declaration to the deponent and that she would truly and faithfully interpret the affirmation about to be administered unto the said SALAM FANAR ZABIN

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