Translated by Emily Porter
This is an interview on local media, given by university student protestors demanding basic human rights provisions such as clean running water, electricity, and the health authorities to investigate the widespread poisoning among the population in Basra.
It was Sunday. There was a peaceful protest in front the local government office. The army attacked us, and smashed our bicycles. Thirty-two of us were detained, but we carried on with our protest until 9pm. A civil rights protestor called me, informing me that there would be a major protest the next day as well. It would take place near the Education Crossroad.
When we arrived, the security forces swarmed among us, and they took me with maybe another 20 protestors. I was blindfold. I didn’t know how long it took to find I was in the head office of the operational intelligence service. That is located in the road to Al-Zubair city.
A masked civilian man holding a stick came to identify us; he was pointing at each of us. He pointed at me and said, “This one hasn’t done anything. That one burned a tyre. The other one smashed a window of a building.”
They took away the ones identified by that man. There were 20 of us or more at that moment. They looked at my mobile, and found the photos I had taken at the demonstration, then accused me of being its leader. They took me to somewhere else and I cannot tell you how bad it was, and what I went through. They locked us in a toilet and hanged me from the ceiling in what they call the scorpion position, hands and legs tied in a painful way. They lifted me up and down, and used cables and other instruments to hit me all over my body. It was very severe and then they asked me for the name of the country or political party that was paying me to protest. I denied everything. I have never joined any party. It was just a spontaneous demonstration demanding our basic human rights, clean water and electricity.
After many of us have been detained, torched and abused, our demands are now for much more than just basic needs. One of them is freedom of speech and that’s in our constitution and should be implemented. I don’t see myself as a guilty person because I am demanding basic human rights. The torturers, all of them masked, carried on. Many of the protesters had broken limbs, were bleeding all over and unconscious. They treated us as if we were terrorists. They said, “You are a terrorist. Why are you demanding water and electricity?” Then the one who was interrogating me started to ask me stupid questions related to religion, like “What is the name of this imam?”. “Who was in those certain circumstances?”. I told him, “I am a university student. Don’t ask me such questions. I know my religion very well.” He laughed at me.
For two days my family did not know where I was. If you went there you would see the worst you could expect.
Then they took us to the military intelligence service and there we were not tortured. I was released from there.
This country has been ruined since 2003. Since this government came to power nothing has been developed. The intellectuals who should be in charge of the country were forced to leave because of the terrorist attacks and assassinations. Those people might have rebuilt the country and helped to develop it. Has anyone from the government come out and admitted failure and apologised for what is happening in this great country? No, of course not. We have plentiful resources. It is a rich county and all of us are demanding things like water and electricity, which is unjust. We should demand our country back, and claim more than basic necessities.