Monday, July 28, 2008

Settling old Scores

Namir Medina and family in their apartment in Amman, Jordan. Namir was tortured in Basra and now suffers from 3 slipped discs. He was able to escape, and one year later his family came to Amman in the hopes of starting a new life.

The injuries Namir sustained from torture are still visible after 3 years.

Namir Medina is unable to walk without a cane, he can only sit or stand for short periods of time. He has a special mattress to sleep on which was donated from an Italian NGO in Amman, Jordan.

Namir Medina shows the sort of tool used to torture him by a former co-worker who now heads one of the terrorist, or rather criminal groups in Basra. He says this one is small, the one they used on his was bigger.

Namir Medina is 40 years old, his wife Sohad A Meta Alblebesh is 35, they have 3 girls aged 16, 13 and 3. Namir was an engineer for the Revolutionary Commercial Council of Ministry of Heavy Industry (RCCMHI), in other words a melting and cast iron company. In order to work at this company Namir had to belong to the Baath party and therefore had to sign a paper saying if he knew anyone including his mother, father, friends, , who were speaking against the government, he was to take them promptly to the police for questioning. He signed this paper, knowing full well that his cousin who was the leader of a “communist group” ran away from Iraq in 1979. Of course Namir was a child at the time but that apparently didn’t matter, as Namir was soon to find out.

When applying for another job Namir was given a tip that the government had uncovered a file about his cousin and wanted to find him to question why he had not included his cousins activities or whereabouts when he signed the contract with the RCCMHI. This could lead to serious consequences so Namir fled to Jordan in 1999. He could not go back while Saddam was in power, his friend warned him that his name was on a “wanted list.”

In 2004 Namir decided to return to Iraq because he thought he would be safe and also as an engineer he would be in great demand in the reconstruction of Iraq. He applied at a steel company, based in Basra. “All that was left of the company was one office, the rest was inoperable because it had been bombed. Sitting in the office was Adan this big Shia man dressed like Muktar Sadr. I worked with him before, he was an electrician, says Namir of his experience when he went to apply for a job. “After waiting a week I went back and Adan said there is no work for you ever. I asked him why. He said you have to belong to a group.” Namir laughed as he explained, “there was hezbudowa, hezbulala, hezbu this and hezbu that, at least 36 hezus fighting eachother for control of Basra.”

Namir then opened a small market out of his apartment selling vegetables and dry goods. 3 months later 2 masked people came and took him away. They blindfolded him, threw him in the car and took him to a house. In the house he saw 14 other men. That night he was tortured. His feet and hands were bound, and hung on a rod. They didn’t ask him anything, they just tortured him like that all night. They would spread him by pulling his feet or hands along the rod. The result was 3 slipped discs. Then he was untied and put back into the main room with the other captured men. He wanted to know why he was there. The handler said I don’t know you have to ask the “manager.”

The next afternoon h was face to face with the manager, who said, “your name is Namir Mehdi, you worked at the RCCMHI.” Though “the managers” face was masked Namir recognized his voice as “J” the ‘parts and requisitions’ man who worked in at Namirs former company RCCMHI. Namir told me that this was during the Iraq embargo when things like ball bearing were very hard to come by. He noticed that many of the parts went missing and told his boss. The man he was now face to face with was “J” the parts man.

“J” told the torturer to tie Namir to a bed. “They tortured me with a welding rod. All over my body they burned me, I would pass out, they would throw water on me and do it again. Each session lasted about an hour and a half then they would put me back into the main room. I could hear screaming coming from the other rooms, we were all tortured. We were allowed to go to the toilet once a day. It was during one of these trips to the toilet that I told the torturer I would pay him money if he would get me out of here. He wanted $US 20,000. I told him my brother would pay. The torturer would have to escape too, because if he were found he would be caught and killed. Two days later during my toilet break I escaped with 2 of these torturers. They drove me to my brothers house, my brother gave them SUS 11.000, they didn’t even know how to count the money. They just took it and left. I escaped Iraq that night leaving my family behind,” said Namir of his ordeal.

After two days in Amman, Namirs daughter witnessed the brutal murder of her uncle. To this day she suffers from nightmares.

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