Inside Baghdad's Sharaf Prison
The Iraqi government organized a trip for journalists to Sharaf Prison in the capital Baghdad, following a report by Human Rights Watch about prisoners being beaten up and electrocuted.
The rights organization accused the Iraqi government of still running the prison despite claiming it had closed more than a year ago.
Prisoners talk about Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the way he has taken Iraq back to the time of Saddam Hussein.
Maliki has always been accused of putting Iraq back on the path of tyranny and detentions. Human Rights Watch brought the issue to the forefront in a report in which it accused Iraqi authorities of carrying out the biggest wave of detentions in October and November 2011 as well as right before the Arab Summit that was held in Baghdad in March 2012.
According to the report, the total number of prisoners amounted to 1,500 and many of them were subjected to torture.
Those accusations drove the Iraqi government to open the gates of Sharaf Prison in the Green Zone which is said to house hundreds of prisoners at the moment.
Colonel Diaa al-Wakil, the spokesman of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces said the prison has been closed for a long time and said the report lacks credibility.
Sharaf Prison is notorious. It is known all over Iraq to be run by a military base that is directly supervised by the office of the prime minister.
According to the testimonials of more than 14 security and judicial officials as well as former detainees, this prison is only a façade for an entire system of detention and torture run by Maliki's close aides in several other facilities and away from the control of the ministry of justice.
Colonel Wakil said that the Iraqi government hopes that reports by human rights groups should be based on concrete evidence and not just on the testimonials of eyewitnesses and former detainees. Wakil stressed that the information in the report is groundless.
Human rights organizations, however, insist on exposing the truth Maliki's government is reportedly hiding. The detention file poses a lot of questions about the means Maliki's government uses to eliminate its adversaries under the pretext of combating terrorism and fighting members of the disbanded Baath Party.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)
Voice: Nadia Mayen
By: Awad Hamad Alfayyad, Al Arabiya