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Apr. 20th, 2005

Iraqi deputies have demanded an official apology from Washington over the manhandling by US soldiers of a member of parliament at a Baghdad checkpoint.

"One US soldier appeared to be designated to my car in particular, as it carried the picture of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr," al-Shaikh told his colleagues. "As though he was antagonised by the picture, the soldier began to utter some words in English which I did not understand. When I handed out my MP badge and showed it to him, he threw it at my face, opened the car door and pulled me out."

Al-Shaikh said he was roughed up by the US soldier despite his protestations.

"The soldier twisted my hands to the back in an effort to handcuff me. He began to beat me and squeezed me by putting his arm firmly around my neck. Then they pulled me off to a nearby room 10m away in their headquarters."

Al-Shaikh said the US soldier continued to beat him even after he told them that he was an elected MP.

The US military said it was investigating the incident and refused to comment.

At least three other deputies said they witnessed the mistreatment of al-Shaikh. "I saw the whole thing and adding insult to injury was when Iraqi soldiers drew their rifles at brother Fatah as he was being mistreated by the Americans," Ali Yushaa, an independent Shia MP, said.

Deputies took turns to speak for almost two hours about the many indignities that they and the Iraqi population suffer when coming in contact with US troops.

"According to the Geneva conventions, an occupying force must respect the occupied nation," Abd al-Khaliq Zanganah, a Kurdish MP said. "This offending soldier must be thrown out of our country." </i>
When will these silly people learn that the Geneva Conventions don’t apply when the US say they don’t apply—i.e., ever? It’ll probably take the Bush administration a couple of days to come up with a rationale for why they don’t apply—maybe it’ll turn out that Iraq somehow isn’t a “nation”—but rest assured they’ll think of something.

This is a tiny incident, but of the kind that time and again forces us to ask, “What would Americans think if this kind of treatment were meted out to their own by other countries?” To which the reply is, of course, “I’m this far from calling in a fucking air strike. What was your question again?”

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