Saturday, March 11, 2006

Worthy Cause: Torture Victim Becomes Activist

Talk Left: Ali Shalal Qaissi is the former Abu Ghraib prisoner in the photo of the hooded prisoner standing on a box connected to electrodes. He's still angry and doing something about it. (...)

Mr. Qaissi is now an Iraq prison rights activist (...)

Shortly after being released from Abu Ghraib in 2004, he started the Association of Victims of American Occupation Prisons with several other men immortalized in the Abu Ghraib pictures.

Financed partly by Arab nongovernmental organizations and private donations, the group's aim is to publicize the cases of prisoners still in custody, and to support prisoners and their families with donations of clothing and food. (...)

Almost two years later, Ali Shalal Qaissi's wounds are still raw.

There is the mangled hand, an old injury that became infected by the shackles chafing his skin. There is the slight limp, made worse by days tied in uncomfortable positions. And most of all, there are the nightmares of his nearly six-month ordeal at Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 and 2004.

Mr. Qaissi, 43, was prisoner 151716 of Cellblock 1A. The picture of him standing hooded atop a cardboard box, attached to electrical wires with his arms stretched wide in an eerily prophetic pose, became the indelible symbol of the torture at Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad. (...)
And get this, Mr. Qaissi sounds more like Ghandi than some terrorist who needed to be tortured. IMO, This is what makes his already compelling case all the more powerful....
Despite the cruelty he witnessed, Mr. Qaissi said he harbored no animosity toward America or Americans. "I forgive the people who did these things to us," he said. "But I want their help in preventing these sorts of atrocities from continuing."...(more)

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