Iraq prisoners on hunger strike, alleging torture

AFP , Saturday 12 Feb 2011

Iraqi prisoners, who allege confessing under torture, go on hunger strike

Fifty inmates at the central prison in the city of Amara in southern Iraq have began a hunger strike, claiming they had made confessions under torture and should be freed, a lawmaker said on Saturday.

Mushraq Naji, a member of parliament's legal affairs committee, told AFP that the inmates began their hunger strike on Friday.

"The prisoners told us they had made confessions under torture and demanded they be freed," Naji said, adding he had visited the prison Saturday together with another MP and several ministers.

"We demand that the government announce a general amnesty and give the prisoners a second chance," he said.

The 50 prisoners on hunger strike were all arrested for links to the Mahdi Army of radical Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, whose militia fought US and Iraqi forces in 2008.

The Amara prison holds between 500 and 600 prisoners, the majority for common crimes.

In recent, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have said that Iraqi security forces operate secret prisons where torture is routine.

The government has denied the allegation.

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