TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
Just after circulating Ronan Bennett's article on Iran's treatment of
its British military captives, I received this critical analysis of the
same issue by former Python Terry Jones, also published in The GUARDIAN.
It is properly Pythonesque. I cannot resist circulating it as well.
I have also received an article which quotes former British ambassador
Craig Murray (who, admittedly, may hold a grudge after being fired as
ambassador to Uzbekistan for criticizing the Uzbek government's human
rights abuses) asserting that the British Ministry of Defense's lovely
map of maritime boundaries is a complete fabrication, for the simple
reason that Iraq and Iran, which have long disputed their boundary
within or alongside the Shatt al-Arab, have never agreed on any maritime
boundary beyond the Shatt. Murray also notes that, even on the British
map, the coordinates for both HMS Cornwall and the incident are closer
to Iranian land than to Iraqi land and opines that "by producing a fake
map of the Iran/Iraq boundary, notably unfavorable to Iran, we can only
harden the Iranian position."
*Call that humiliation?*
No hoods. No electric shocks. No beatings. These Iranians clearly are a
very uncivilised bunch
*Saturday March 31, 2007*
I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of
our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters.
It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this -
allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been
proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye
Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be
posted around the world - have the Iranians no concept of civilised
behaviour? For God's sake, what's wrong with putting a bag over her
head? That's what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over
their heads, so it's hard to breathe. Then it's perfectly acceptable to
take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the
captives can't be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate
British service people are.
It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to
talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the
Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives,
they wouldn't be able to talk at all. Of course they'd probably find it
even harder to breathe - especially with a bag over their head - but at
least they wouldn't be humiliated.
And what's all this about allowing the captives to write letters home
saying they are all right? It's time the Iranians fell into line with
the rest of the civilised world: they should allow their captives the
privacy of solitary confinement. That's one of the many privileges the
US grants to its captives in Guantánamo Bay.
The true mark of a civilised country is that it doesn't rush into
charging people whom it has arbitrarily arrested in places it's just
invaded. The inmates of Guantánamo, for example, have been enjoying all
the privacy they want for almost five years, and the first inmate has
only just been charged. What a contrast to the disgraceful Iranian rush
to parade their captives before the cameras!
What's more, it is clear that the Iranians are not giving their British
prisoners any decent physical exercise. The US military make sure that
their Iraqi captives enjoy PT. This takes the form of exciting "stress
positions", which the captives are expected to hold for hours on end so
as to improve their stomach and calf muscles. A common exercise is where
they are made to stand on the balls of their feet and then squat so that
their thighs are parallel to the ground. This creates intense pain and,
finally, muscle failure. It's all good healthy fun and has the bonus
that the captives will confess to anything to get out of it.
And this brings me to my final point. It is clear from her TV appearance
that servicewoman Turney has been put under pressure. The newspapers
have persuaded behavioural psychologists to examine the footage and they
all conclude that she is "unhappy and stressed".
What is so appalling is the underhand way in which the Iranians have got
her "unhappy and stressed". She shows no signs of electrocution or burn
marks and there are no signs of beating on her face. This is
unacceptable. If captives are to be put under duress, such as by forcing
them into compromising sexual positions, or having electric shocks to
their genitals, they should be photographed, as they were in Abu Ghraib.
The photographs should then be circulated around the civilised world so
that everyone can see exactly what has been going on.
As Stephen Glover pointed out in the Daily Mail, perhaps it would not be
right to bomb Iran in retaliation for the humiliation of our servicemen,
but clearly the Iranian people must be made to suffer - whether by
beefing up sanctions, as the Mail suggests, or simply by getting
President Bush to hurry up and invade, as he intends to anyway, and
bring democracy and western values to the country, as he has in Iraq.
*·* Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007