Gruesome instruments of torture and the
personal effects of victims killed by henchmen of dictator Saddam
Hussein haunt Iraqis five years after the fall of his brutal regime.
The display, currently on show in Baghdad, is due to travel across the
country in "tribute to the thousands of martyrs" murdered when Saddam
was in power, former political prisoner Amed Naji al-Badawi said.
Badawi is on a committee of Iraqi former political prisoners who set up
the exhibition in a makeshift museum of horrors on the banks of the Tigris River, in the Shiite neighbourhood of Kadhimiyah.
Nooses hang from the ceiling, and a wooden coffin-like box containing a
mediaeval-looking torture rack on which prisoners were pinned and
stretched takes centre stage.
Pictures of hangings and bodies are plastered all over the walls.
"These are the horrors of the Saddam regime," said Badawi, a stout man
in his 50s who spent five years in the jails of Saddam's feared
"mukhabarat" secret service because of his alleged support for the
Shiite Dawa party.
He was arrested along with 13 members of his family -- and seven of his brothers were killed by Saddam's goons.
Over the past five years Badawi's committee has helped to locate 106 mass graves and the remains of 1,050 men, women and children killed by members of the ousted regime.
The display was set up to mark the 17th anniversary of the start of a Shiite uprising in southern Iraq on March 1, 1991, a day after Saddam's regime agreed to a truce with US-led coalition forces after its defeat in the first Gulf war.
His regime brutally suppressed the uprising, killing thousands of people.
The names of dozens of those victims are inscribed on black banners
hung in the museum, next to a portrait of Shiite leader Mohammed Sadek
al-Sadr who was killed in 1999.
The assassination of the Iraqi Shiite dignitary sparked major riots in Najaf, one of Iraq's holiest cities for Shiite Muslims.
In the middle of the room a single doll wrapped in a white shroud
represents children killed during the iron-fisted rule of Saddam. It is
surrounded with toys and cheap plastic flowers.
widows who have visited the museum have broken down in tears at the
sight of this display, Badawi said.
Also on show are cases
containing the personal effects of some of Saddam's victims, whose
remains or mutilated bodies have been found over the past five years in
dozens of mass graves across Iraq.
The artefacts include combs, identity cards,
a rosary, a sock caked in soil, a fragment of a pair of spectacles and
bloodstained clothes. Arrest warrants signed by Saddam himself are also
Among the most horrific objects retrieved by Badawi
and his team from the notorious torture rooms of the mukhabarat, and
now included in the museum, is a wooden table covered in a worn strip
of leather and with a domestic iron placed at one end.
"This is an electrocution table," Badawi said.
"The naked prisoner was bound to the table with a steel bar strapped to
his shoulder" to ensure maximum immobility as his torturers
electrocuted him or used the iron to inflict burns, Badawi said.
Electric shocks were delivered via electrodes attached to a plastic
syringe, the needle of which "was inserted into the urethra of the
victim's sexual organ," Badawi added. "The pain was atrocious."
Videos of torture sessions are also screened in a basement room.
Terrified prisoners can be seen being beaten, having their arms and
legs broken and being thrown from rooftops or blown up with explosives.