Friday, May 20, 2005

Red Cross told U.S. of Koran incidents

By Cam Simpson and Mark Silva
“The International Committee of the Red Cross documented what it called credible information about U.S. personnel disrespecting or mishandling Korans at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and pointed it out to the Pentagon in confidential reports during 2002 and early 2003, an ICRC spokesman said Wednesday.

Representatives of the ICRC, who have played a key role in investigating abuse allegations at the facility in Cuba and other U.S. military prisons, never witnessed such incidents firsthand during on-site visits, said Simon Schorno, an ICRC spokesman in Washington.

But ICRC delegates, who have been granted access to the secretive camp since January 2002, gathered and corroborated enough similar, independent reports from detainees to raise the issue multiple times with Guantanamo commanders and with Pentagon officials, Schorno said in an interview Wednesday.

Following the ICRC's reports, the Defense Department command in Guantanamo issued almost three pages of detailed, written guidelines for treatment of Korans. Schorno said ICRC representatives did not receive any other complaints or document similar incidents following the issuance of the guidelines on Jan. 19, 2003.

The issue of how Korans are handled by American personnel guarding Muslim detainees moved into the spotlight after protests in Muslim nations, including deadly riots in Afghanistan, that followed a now-retracted report in Newsweek magazine. That story said U.S. investigators had confirmed that interrogators had flushed a Koran down a toilet.

The Koran is Islam's holiest book, and mistreating it is seen as an offense against God.

Following the firestorm over the report and the riots, the ICRC declined Wednesday to discuss what kind of alleged incidents were involved, how many there were or how often it reported them to American officials prior to the release of the 2003 Koran guidelines.

"We don't want to comment specifically on specific instances of desecration, only on the general level of how the Koran was disrespected," Schorno said.

Schorno did say, however, that there were "multiple" instances involved and that the ICRC made confidential reports about such incidents "multiple" times to Guantanamo and Pentagon officials.…

I was asked, “What about Muslims desecrating the Bible?” The truth is simply that the Old and New Testament are part of Muslim Holy Scripture too. They disagree with our interpretation. Since they would never desecrate them, they are all the more offended when we disrespect theirs. Al Ingram


http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0505190306may19.story
con·cept: Red Cross told U.S. of Koran incidents