Apr. 6, 2005 – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is calling on the US Army to investigate a riot that occurred last week at Camp Bucca, an American-run prison in southern Iraq. According to ICRC representative Rana Sidani, US guards wounded at least fourteen detainees when they fired rubber bullets into a crowd of angry prisoners.
Initially, the Army denied that a riot took place. But the ICRC, which had a team present at Camp Bucca during the uprising, confirmed that a riot took place. The Red Cross, however, only publicly acknowledged the incident after it was first reported by members of Shiâ€™ite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadrâ€™s movement. The Army finally announced on Tuesday that twelve prisoners and four guards were wounded at the prison during Fridayâ€™s skirmish. The military now says the riot began after detainees began protesting the transfer of "unruly" inmates to another compound.
Saheb Al-Ameri, a supporter of Al-Sadr and head of a charity organization, told Agence France-Press that the violence occurred after US authorities refused to give medical treatment to a detainee. Al-Ameri further reported that since the riot, detainees have been without water and electricity.
The ICRC says that detainees have complained about conditions at the camp, which reportedly houses some 6,000 prisoners in crowded tents. Many detainees are also not certain of their legal status. "The Americans consider them 'security detainees'," Sidani told AFP. "There is no clear trial or legal process. In this climate, it takes one incident to ignite things," she added.