The Sarraseca Code

The Sarraseca Code

The Sarraseca Code

Do you call that humiliation?

I share the outrage expressed by the British press over the treatment inflicted on our military personnel accused of illegally entering Iranian territorial waters. It is deplorable. We would never dream of treating prisoners like that: allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, when it is perfectly demonstrated that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor soldier Faye to cover his head with a black handkerchief and then allow the photograph to be distributed all over the world, lightning, will not the Iranians know what it means to be civilized? For God's sake, what's wrong with covering his head with a sack? That is what we do with the Muslims we capture: we cover their heads with sacks so they have difficulty breathing. Then it is perfectly acceptable to take pictures and pass them to the press, because in this way the captives can not be recognized or humiliated as they are being those unfortunate British soldiers.

It is also intolerable to force these British prisoners to speak on television and to say things that they may regret. If the Iranians taped their mouths, as we do with our prisoners, they could not open their beaks. Of course, that way maybe they would have more difficulty breathing - especially with a sack covering their heads - but at least they would not be humiliated.

And what is that story of allowing prisoners to write letters to their homes saying they are okay? It is time for the Iranians to start behaving like the rest of the civilized world: they should allow their prisoners to enjoy the privacy of solitary confinement. This is one of the many privileges that the USA grants to prisoners at Guantánamo.

Moreover, it is clear that the Iranians are not offering their British prisoners any decent physical exercise. The US military makes sure that Iraqi prisoners enjoy physical exercise in the form of exciting "stressful positions" that prisoners are supposed to resist for hours to tone the muscles of their stomach and calves. A regular exercise is to force them to stand on the front of the sole of the foot and then to shrink until their thighs are parallel with the floor. This produces intense pain and finally, muscle breakdown. It is a healthy and fun exercise that also has the added advantage that the prisoner ends up confessing anything to get away from it.

Which brings me to my last point. It is clear, judging from her television appearance, that Private Turney has been put under pressure. The [British] newspapers have persuaded behavioral psychologists to analyze the footage and they have all concluded that the girl manifests symptoms of "unhappiness and stress." What is really scandalous is the sibyline way the Iranians have made it "unhappy and stressed." The soldier does not show visible signs of electrocution or burn marks and does not show any beatings on the face. That is unacceptable. If they subject prisoners to abusive situations such as forcing them to adopt compromised sexual postures or receive electric shocks to the genitals, unless they are photographed, as they were at Abu Ghraib. The photographs should then be circulated around the civilized world so that everyone can see exactly what is happening.

Terry Jones is a film director, actor and member of Monty Phyton.

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