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Newly Freed Iraqi Detainees Called on to Help Rebuild Country

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2006 – The Iraqi deputy prime minister called on about 450 Iraqis being freed from the Abu Ghraib detention facility today to work for peace in Iraq, the Middle East and the world.

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Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salim al-Zawbai speaks with detainees released from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison June 15. The Iraqi government plan aims at getting "low-risk" detainees back into the workforce and working toward a new Iraq. Photo by Jim Garamone
  

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Salim al-Zawbai spoke to the men before they were released from the facility. It is part of an Iraqi government effort to free more than 3,000 "low-risk" prisoners the coalition held at the facility, he said.

"End the language of death and begin the language of life," Zawbai told the men. He said they should condemn those who would use religion to tear down religion and pit sects against sects.

"We need to protect the blood of all human beings, no matter where they are from, what they believe or their color," he said through a translator.

He called on the men to help rebuild Iraq and become part of the new government of Iraq. "We need everybody, because if only some participate, we have an unclear picture of the wants of the nation," he said.

Following their release, the detainees shook the deputy prime minister's hand and trooped onto buses to take them back to the areas where they were detained.

The men are all categorized as "low-risk" detainees and this was the third release of several scheduled under the Iraqi government's special request. Each man received new clothes, a Koran, a prayer rug, a towel and $25.

The recidivism rate is not high for these detainees. "It's very low," said Army Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, spokesman for Task Force 134, which specializes in detainee operations. He said that no one "with blood on their hands" is part of the special release program.

The men had all been held for between three months and 18 months, said Army Col. Bill Ivey, the task force's deputy commander. While being held they received the same medical and dental care that American servicemembers receive.

Coalition detention operations will soon close down at Abu Ghraib and move to another facility now under construction. This will place detainees out of tents and into buildings. "It's better for their quality of life and for security purposes," Ivey said.

The releases are in addition to normal releases coalition forces make. Last month, for example, coalition forces released 1,300 detainees, Curry said.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageIraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salim al-Zawbai speaks with detainees released from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison June 15. The Iraqi government plan aims at getting "low-risk" detainees back into the workforce and working toward a new Iraq. Photo by Jim Garamone  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn American military policeman watches the release of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq June 15. Photo by Jim Garamone  
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