Source Pravda.Ru

The Observer newspaper: Iraqi former interim prime minister says human rights abuse as bad as under Saddam Hussein

The Observer newspaper: Iraqi former interim prime minister says human rights abuse as bad as under Saddam Hussein Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and could become even worse, the country's former interim prime minister said in an interview published today.

"People are doing the same as Saddam's time and worse," Ayad Allawi told The Observer newspaper. "It is an appropriate comparison."

Allawi accused fellow Shiites in the government of being responsible for death squads and secret torture centers and said the brutality of elements in the new security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police.

Although Allawi is a Shiite, he is secular in his politics and is running separately from the Shiite parties in the Dec. 15 election. His comments appear to be an attempt to appeal to Sunni voters, who claim their community has been unfairly targeted by the Shiite-led security forces.

"People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same thing," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

For months, Sunni Arabs have been accusing the Interior Ministry of wholesale arrests and abuse of Sunnis in an attempt to find a handful of rebels. The discovery by U.S. troops this month of up to 173 detainees _ malnourished and some showing signs of torture _ hidden in an Interior Ministry building in central Baghdad gave credence to those charges.

Iraq's Shiite-led government has promised an investigation and punishment for anyone guilty of torture, the AP reports. In the interview, Allawi warned it would be dangerous for the multinational force to withdraw from Iraq until the country was stable. "Iraq is the centerpiece of this region," he was quoted as saying. "If things go wrong, neither Europe nor the U.S. will be safe."

A.M.

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