UK MPs Shocked at Troops Abusing Iraqi Teens

LONDON, February 12, 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – British lawmakers on Sunday, February 12, expressed their shock at a video that purports to show British troops ruthlessly abusing helpless teenagers in Iraq.

"First reaction, like everybody else is a reaction of horror," said Labour lawmaker Stephen Pound, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"If this is true, then sadly those squaddies (soldiers) are going to be dismissed, no question about it."

According to the News of the World, which is Britain's best-selling Sunday newspaperthe, the fuzzy video showed the troops dragging four young protesters off a street and into an army compound where they were punched, kicked and hit with batons.

It claimed the cameraman could be heard laughing and saying: "Oh yes! Oh Yes! You're gonna get it. Yes, naughty little boys. You little f…, you little f…. Die. Ha Ha."

The paper said the scenes were filmed by a corporal who can be heard encouraging his colleagues - described by the mass-circulation tabloid as "a rogue squad of British soldiers" -- in a running commentary.

The paper said the video, which is thought to have been made in 2004 during street riots in southern Iraq, also shows a soldier kicking the body of a dead Iraqi in the face.

It did not identify the regiment involved.

"It's awful... it will cause a lot of trouble in Iraq," Labour lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn said in his reaction to the video.

"It will also emphasize the whole point that the continued presence of British and American forces in Iraq are part of the problem, not the solution," backbencher Corbyn told GMTV's Sunday Program.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour government would have to come up with something "pretty dramatic and very quick" in response, Corbyn said.

"It's not one-off, it's not isolated, it's not in detention, it's a group of soldiers attacking an individual for whatever reason in a very brutal manner," he added.

(Click to watch the video)

Investigation

In a statement late Saturday, February 11, just as the first copies of the News of the World were coming off the presses, a Ministry of Defense spokeswoman said the report was being taken "extremely seriously".

"We are aware of these very serious allegations and can confirm they are now the subject of an urgent Royal Military Police investigation," she said.

"We condemn all acts of abuse and brutality and always treat any allegations of wrongdoing extremely seriously," she added.

"Over 80,000 servicemen and women (from the British armed forces) have served in Iraq since military operations began. Only a tiny minority are alleged to have been involved in incidents of deliberate abuse."

The new video is certain to renew debate over the conduct of US, British and occupation forces in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March 2003 that overthrew Saddam Hussein's regime.

In February last year, three British soldiers were jailed and dismissed from the army in disgrace for their roles in a prisoner abuse scandal at an aid camp in southern Iraq.

In 2004, the Daily Mirror newspaper in London published a series of photographs appearing to show soldiers from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment abusing Iraqi detainees. Those images were later revealed to be fakes.

Nine American soldiers were convicted in October of offences relating to a series of abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison, near Baghdad. That scandal emerged after images were broadcast on a US television network back in 2004.

Lawyers acting for Iraqi civilians who said claim they were tortured by British troops were told Friday, February 10, that a prosecution for war crimes would not be brought by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The cases include that of Baha Mousa, a 26-year-old hotel receptionist who died in the custody of British troops in Basra in September 2003, and nine Iraqi civilians detained at Camp Breadbasket.

United Kingdom | Politics | 2006-02-12 |