What the World is Saying…

Over the past week, shocking images and reports of American troops torturing Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison have surfaced. The international community has unequivocally condemned the U.S. military. The State Department has compiled editorials from all over the world, which can be viewed here. Below is a sample of the global commentary:


"What happened in Abu Ghraib prison was a clear and shameful violation of the rights of Iraqi POWs and detainees. It showed total disregard for international law and the Geneva Convention…and highlighted the violation by U.S. forces of Iraqi human rights and the right of POWs to live in good conditions. Statements of condemnation from Western capitals, particularly the U.S. and Britain, are not enough. There must be a serious and decisive confrontation with this issue to prevent the repetition of such acts."

Al-Ahram, May 2

Saudi Arabia

"The images on CBS and the Daily Mirror of the bad treatment of Iraqi POW's reflect the failure of US and British compliance with international agreements that protect the dignity of civilian and military personnel in times of war. It seems that what happened in Iraq was out of the 'jurisdiction zone' for the Geneva Convention on treatment of POW's. What happened to the Iraqi POW's can only be described as barbaric and inhumane treatment by the west. This is the same west that came to the Middle East with slogans about democracy and reforms."

– "No humanity in the west," Al-Watan, May 4

Great Britain

"Pictures of torture and abuse of prisoners, such as those that emerged last week, are not only deeply shocking, their incendiary nature seriously imperials hopes of peace in the region…. But outrage, though clearly and promptly expressed, is not enough. We hope that it speaks of a genuine sense of anger and a determination to conduct a vigorous investigation and to adhere rigorously to rules of imprisonment and interrogation in future."

Observer, May 2


"We cannot minimize the impact these photographs will have on the streets of Arab countries…. Neither can we point a finger only at the coalition soldiers, because the Iraqi opponents have made wide use of blind terror. Torture, unfortunately, is a by-product of conflicts and repression. No country is blameless, including France… Even if the culprits are adequately and rapidly punished, this could prove insufficient to quell the hostility of the Iraqis…. President Bush's loss of prestige is also serious: an administration wanting to give lessons is now hoisted by its own petard…. It is crucial for the coalition's image and effectiveness that they respect the Geneva Convention, in Iraq and in Guantanamo. This may not be enough to right all wrongs. America's honor depends on Washington's swift punishment of the guilty individuals and on a return to the international laws that govern armed conflicts. Otherwise how can we convince the Iraqis and the Muslims – if this is still possible – of Washington's good intentions? And how can other European countries be convinced to take part in the peace process in Iraq under U.S. command?"

Le Monde, May 4


"The excesses from Abu Ghraib are not an accidental lack of discipline of a few GIs under stress. They point to serious flaws in the system: mistakable and ambiguous signals of the leadership, insufficient controls, a total lack of an awareness of being wrong. The argument that this is a very perfidious opponent and the incidents are harmless compared to terrorist atrocities does not count. If the previous legal means in the fight against violence do not suffice, then there is only one reliable answer: new limits must be discussed in public and then be binding for everyone. Those who allow or even promote intelligence services and special units to take the law into their own hands will in the end jeopardize the credibility and the reputation of the rule of law–like now in Iraq."

Financial Times Deutschland, May 4


"The idea that the abuse is limited to isolated acts by a rogue minority of soldiers is, however, highly questionable. Human-rights organizations say they have received many complaints of similar maltreatment of prisoners. The ones that have come to light may well be the tip of the iceberg….The occupation of Iraq has, from the moment it began a year ago, lacked legitimacy. These terrible abuses have removed any remaining claim the coalition had to the moral high ground. Only by conducting a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the treatment of prisoners generally in Iraq can credit and trust be restored…. And the detention centers should now be opened up for inspection by reputable human-rights organizations so that concerns of widespread abuse can be tackled.

South China Morning Post, May 2

South Korea

"The abuse of prisoners by American and British soldiers are grave criminal acts that cannot be forgiven under any circumstances….The U.S. and Britain must face up to the world's indignation at their acts of trampling on human dignity….In particular, noting that Washington publishes every year a report on other countries' human rights and urges them to improve their human rights situation, the world is closely watching whether the U.S. will continue to criticize the others' human rights while turning a blind eye to its own violation of human rights."

Dong-a Ilbo, May 4


"The brutality of the U.S. and British forces against Iraqi prisoners of war is out of proportion and disgusting….The international community has expressed its anger and protested the brutality shown at an Iraq jail….The strongest protests have come from members of the Arab League, where the angry world community has also questioned again the U.S. double standard on human rights, including in Guantanamo camps. The U.S. is seen as violating the human rights of the supporters of the Taliban and al-Qaida from Afghanistan being detained in Guantanamo….The Guantanamo case and the torture of detainees in Iraq demonstrate a naked violation of human rights principles."

Kompas, May 4


"The terrible images reflecting the cruel abuse of Iraqi prisoners…are frankly abominable. The violation of basic rules that regulate the treatment of war prisoners at the Geneva conventions, which the U.S. belongs to, are absolutely obvious. Moreover, if given the characteristic of the abused prisoners these rules weren't applicable, what took place openly violates humanitarian international legislation anyway. The already damaged U.S. image around the world will suffer as a consequence of this even further – particularly among the sensitized Arabic countries. For these reasons, the investigation of the serious responsibilities regarding these unacceptable episodes must be transparent, quick and deep. And the punishment to those who, out of action or omission, are found responsible for the brutalities that may have been committed must be exemplary. In addition, what took place must also trigger a deep revision of military policies and procedures that are currently enforced by the U.S. army, so that in the future, these truly wild episodes such as the above-mentioned are not repeated under any circumstance."

La Nacion, May 4

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