DHAKA: Hundreds of Bangladeshi construction workers have been beaten and humiliated by soldiers in Iraq after becoming dragged into their host country’s sectarian conflict, two of their colleagues said Thursday.
Some had their beards shaved off by the mainly Shiite Muslim troops after being accused of sympathising with Sunni insurgents while one of them was stripped naked, according to the men after they returned home.
“They abducted the Bangladeshi cleric from our camp mosque last Thursday and when he was released on Saturday, you could see torture marks all over his body,” Raqibul Islam said in Dhaka. “They burnt his beard with cigarettes and then cut it off with knife. His body was also beaten with stones. “He was tortured because he is a Sunni. He was returned only after we stopped work and protested his abduction,” he added.
Mofidul Islam, another of the group of 21 workers, said abuses had been widespread. “The Iraqis beat hundreds of our colleagues. They think that a beard is a sign that you are a Sunni militant so whoever has a big beard was targeted and beaten mercilessly,” said Islam. “One of the workers was made to strip naked and then beaten. They entered our camps and locked the doors and then beat the workers with rifles.” AFP