Police in Iraq kill heat-stressed protesters

In A/C news on June 20, 2010 at 8:20 am

Extreme heat and lack electricity to run air-conditioning or fans has driven people into the streets of Basra, in southern Iraq, reports the Los Angeles Times:

Iraqis are sweating and grumbling through their eighth consecutive season of scorching heat since the U.S. invasion with only a few hours of electricity every day — and, now, without a new government to resolve the inexplicably chronic problem.

Without fans or air conditioning, sleep becomes an impossible, sweat-drenched dream. Water, stored in rooftop tanks that soak up the sun, runs hot through the taps, if it runs at all. And as the temperature soars well into triple figures, tempers also are rising.

On June 18, according to the paper, police shot into a group of protesters, killing two and injuring 4:

Those frustrations erupted violently Saturday on the streets of the southern city of Basra. As people protesting prolonged electricity outages pelted the provincial government headquarters with rocks, police opened fire to disperse them, killing two and injuring four.

Meanwhile, as I argued on the CounterPunch site this spring,  America’s military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have been the most thoroughly air-conditioned wars in history. One place where there has never a shortage of air-conditioning power is in the torture-chambers:

The US Army Field Manual, last updated in 2006, forbids “inducing hypothermia” as a means of torture. But a secret 2007 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), leaked in 2009, scrutinized the treatment of “high value detainees” held by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and it shows that the CIA did not recognize the military’s restrictions as valid. ICRC charged, “Detainees frequently reported that they were held for their initial months of detention in cells which were kept extremely cold, usually at the same time as being kept forcibly naked. The actual interrogation room was often reported to be kept cold.”

Overchilling was thought to enhance the effects of other “enhanced techniques” such as waterboarding. From 2002 through 2008, as first-hand accounts of detainees’ treatment trickled out of Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Guantanamo, and other less well-publicized scenes of horror, the over-chilling of cells and interrogation rooms was repeatedly employed as a technique of “persuasion.”

  1. Thanks for this great blog and your book. I have a blog on living without refrigeration and shall link to yours as well. I’m including an article right now that relates to your book and a quote from you. Please stay in touch!

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