Fallujah civilians: We were tortured

2016-06-16 18:45
(Osama Sami, AP)

(Osama Sami, AP)

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Fallujah -  As the Iraqi armed forces and allied militias continue their battle to take Fallujah from ISIS, a growing number of civilians have said that they were tortured after escaping the besieged city.

In one tent in the Amiriyat al-Fallujah camp, which is hosting displaced people from Fallujah, three men claimed to have been tortured while held captive by sectarian militias affiliated with the Popular Mobilisation Forces.

The men, along with their families and many others, fled the al-Azraqiyah area, northwest of Fallujah, as the Iraqi military advanced towards their houses. Although they knew the road to reach the camp was not completely safe, they decided to leave out of fear of what might happen if they stayed.

"We knew that the militias might arrest or even kill us, but we had to leave," said Abu Muhammad, 57, who asked that his real name not be used. "Staying in the area meant sure death, whereas if we tried to leave, we might have the chance of surviving - or if not us, at least our families."

Holding white flags

Since 2014, a number of sectarian militias, collectively known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces or al-Hashd al-Shaabi, has played a major role in assisting the Iraqi armed forces in the fight against ISIS. But they have also been accused of perpetrating human rights abuses against civilians on sectarian basis.

Abu Muhammad said he experienced "days of hell" during his detention by the militia fighters. "We saw men in uniforms with army vehicles. We thought it was the Iraqi army that was approaching. We walked towards them holding white flags to make sure they know that we are civilians and unarmed," he explained.

The families soon discovered that the men in uniforms were not army soldiers, but militiamen who belong to the mobilisation forces.

Abu Muhammad said he was beaten repeatedly for six days. "They would beat us with water pipes; they would take turns to torture us."

A week after their ordeal started, the Iraqi federal police arrived and moved the hundreds of detained men to the al-Mazraa military base, located east of Fallujah. They were held there for interrogation, then transferred to Amiriyat al-Fallujah.

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq

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