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West's double standards

Wednesday May 5, 2004
The Guardian

If the media made even a fraction of the fuss over Blair's dodgy dossier as they are making over the pictures of British soldiers mistreating Iraqi hostages, then we wouldn't be in Iraq today (Torture is the real issue, May 4). If the pictures showed Arab troops humiliating British prisoners, there would be howls of indignation and no one would be rushing to make excuses about their authenticity. In any case, the behaviour of our US "allies" was plain. Muslims in this country are now the targets of police raids which are given wide coverage. Yet no apology is given by the media establishment, which continues to portray them as terrorists, when the same people are later released without charge. The double standards are all too apparent. It is this that angers Arab and Muslim opinion more than anything. Whereas the actions of Arabs and Muslims is always presumed as suspect, the conduct of British occupiers must always be excused.
Bilal Patel

If the Iraq abuse photos are real, then it is an astonishing indictment. If they are fake, it is a slander. What worries me more is our reaction in our self-obsession. Even anti-war Charles Kennedy is now heard talking remorsefully of the damage to our armed forces and the new danger our troops are put under. This fits into a wider pattern of concern for westerners at the expense of Iraqi lives. It was a "clean" war, with only a few hundred coalition deaths. What about the tens of thousands of Iraqi dead? The coalition chose to put the lives of its troops on the line. Iraqis were not given that choice.
Sakhr Al-Makhadhi
Harrow, Middx

The pictures showing the abuse of prisoners are not the first evidence of torture by US troops. In early January, Christian Peacemaker Teams presented the Coalition Provisional Authority with a report containing 72 case studies of the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners, including torture. Between May and December 2003, they conducted dozens of interviews and gathered testimonies from prisoners and their families. The report showed that often detentions involved acts of violence and abuse, as well as theft and destruction of personal property. Some prisoners said they were left with their hands tied behind their backs for several days, that they received only one spoonful of army-rationed food a day, and were deprived of water. The also recounted frequent beatings by US soldiers. The report challenges the suggestion the US military did not know what was going on, but also that the pictures represent an isolated incident.
Jonathan Bartley
Director, Ekklesia

Why express surprise (Leaders, May 3) at the predictable and usual acts of torture and degradation in which angry immature males express their contempt for "the enemy", who must not be perceived to be equally human, or there would be a problem with killing them. The only responsible action for the media is to publish daily the numbers, names, manner of death and photos of all those killed or disabled, not merely those of the US and British troops in illegal occupation of a country.
Paddy Masefield
Newton Abbot, Devon

If bullying still takes place in the army, why should we be surprised to see it emerge in the theatre of war?
Hilary Spiers
Esher, Surrey

So there are up to 20,000 private military contractors in Iraq (Beyond the law, May 3) . Should they not be designated as "illegal combatants"?
Alan Clayden