BAGHDAD, Iraq – Excerpts from the testimony at Tuesday's session of Saddam Hussein's trial by "Witness A," a woman whose identity was kept secret. From behind a curtain, with her voice disguised, she testified about how she was 16 years old when she was arrested in the Shiite Muslim town of Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam.
She refers first to Wadah el-Sheik, a military intelligence officer who died last month of cancer:
Wadah el-Sheik summoned me, may God bless his soul. Anyone who dies, may God bless their souls. He told me, "What do you have to say?" I told him, "Nothing."
He said, "Prepare the operation room." They took me to the operation room. ... He told me, "Take off your clothes." I told him, "Please, by my eyes and heart, my honor is your honor."
He told me, "Shut up. Don't dare mention my honor."
He hit me and shot at the wall with a pistol. I thought it was real, but it turned out to be just a sound. I was forced to take off my clothes, and he raised my legs up and tied up my hands. He continued administering electric shocks and whipping me and telling me to speak. They were more than one, as if I were their banquet, maybe more than five people, all of them are officers. Is that what happens to the virtuous woman that Saddam speaks about?
(A judge interrupts, telling her to stick to what happened and asks, "Who came to you, talked to you? Anything in particular, their names?")
I don't know them, I don't know their names. One of them, they called him Samir. One they called Hekmat, one they called Youssef. ... I lost consciousness and fell to the ground. ... They threw me in a small red room, with no light inside. ... The floor was covered with red, and the walls are red, and I had with me a girl called Leila Jassem Saleh. We put our shoes under our heads and slept without blankets.
... From a small window (in the door) they threw us two small pieces of bread. After all this torture that we went through, would anybody still have an appetite to eat?
... The director summoned me. I wasn't able to look him in the eye out of my shame. I told him I want to see my mother, who is suffering from heart problems and high blood pressure. He told the guard, "Go with her to Room 58, and if she opens her mouth to say a word, don't let her see her (mother.) They called my mother, she came up to me ... I told her, "Mother, nothing is wrong with me."
... They transferred all the families, the children and the elderly to Abu Ghraib. As for us young women, they kept us at the Intelligence Agency (in Baghdad) until the end of the investigation. After the investigation was over, they took us to Abu Ghraib. ...
The lice were beyond description. ... When we were at the Intelligence Agency it was July and the water was hot and boiling. In Abu Ghraib it was winter, and the water was ice. The lice spread everywhere. I swear by God, God is my witness, when we tugged on our clothes lice would fall out. Our whole lives were lice. Our heads were full of lice. ... We didn't have shoes or slippers, so we used cardboard and shaped it with threads from the blanket. ...
They brought the men in before our eyes, before our children's eyes and told them to run in place. Those who disobeyed were whipped with the lash. One of my relatives who is mute and deaf, they brought him in front of the women and stripped him naked ... then they pulled him by the penis and said, "What kind of creature is this?" The women were crying. ... The young people were taken to the bathrooms and given five minutes. Even if they have diarrhea or stomach cramps, anyone who doesn't get out in five minutes got 100 lashes. ...
This woman was giving birth, and the baby got stuck between her legs. Another woman tried to help, but the guards told her it was none of her business. The baby suffocated between her legs. ...
(Says the prisoners were transferred to a desert prison near the southern city of Samawah.)
I swear to God, I saw a donkey (in the desert) and I said, "Oh God, how I envy him for his freedom. This donkey is lucky, he enjoys complete freedom while we human beings are being moved from prison to a prison. ... As soon as we arrived, they told us that our aunt died in prison, sorry I mean in the desert. ... We lived in the desert, we transported water from the well by carrying it on our heads. I swear by God that until now my head, when I try to comb my hair, it hurts from carrying water. ...
There was a time, they stopped sending food for us, nobody was sending it to us. Children started collecting dried bread from the garbage.
(Judge: How long did you stay?)
Four years from one place to another. Look at me, I have spent my youth in prison, from 16 to 20 years until I leave jail for normal life. I lost my youth, my future. Now my friends are teachers and doctors and I am now just a housewife."
(Judge: You talked about what had happened to you and about beating you. Who did that?)
There were many. How I could know them.
(Judge: You did not explain the kind of aggression against you.)
The most horrible one.
(Judge: What do you mean by that?)
Sir, I mean, a woman is stripped of her clothes, her legs lifted up and her hands tied, then she is beaten with hoses and electricity. Can you imagine that? Many women in Dujail are still unmarried. One lives with a broken back, another with a broken leg. We are human beings. What will remain of us after that? Even if made of iron, even iron can be eroded.
... Beating and electricity. One of them told me, "You should thank your God because you are here in the Intelligence Center. If you were in the directorate of security, no woman would remain a virgin."
... Then they came and told us that we will be released. They told us that Saddam ordered you to be released. They brought 25 army lorries to take us out. ... They brought us to Dujail and we were met with Samir al-Abbas al-Amin (a resident) who welcomed us with the song, "You are welcomed. ... Your coming is welcomed" (a song used to greet Saddam). I was surprised that people of Dujail were still loving him (Saddam).