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Remembering the Occupation: Tournament, Torture Exhibit

April 6, 1991

KUWAIT CITY (AP) _ In a setting both festive and grisly, hundreds of allied soldiers and Kuwaitis gathered Saturday for the first, and probably the last, Missing POWs Soccer Tournament and Torture Tools Exhibition.

Soldiers played hard-fought soccer matches before cheering fans outside a youth center, while people inside filed attentively past displays of implements allegedly used by Iraqi torturers during the occupation of Kuwait.

The event was organized by the Kuwait Association to Defend War Victims. One of its leaders, Ali Khuraibet, said the aims were to ″show the world what occurred in Kuwait″ and publicize the plight of Kuwaitis abducted and still held by Iraq.

United Nations officials say 4,000 to 5,000 Kuwaitis may remain in Iraqi custody.

″We wanted people to get together and get to know each other,″ Khuraibet said. ″The allied forces helped Kuwait. Let them see what kind of atrocities occurred.″

In the exhibition hall, bulletin boards were covered with gruesome color photographs of Kuwaiti resistance members who were tortured and killed by the Iraqis.

In a side room, soldiers and civilians, including small boys in jeans and old women in black robes, watched black-and-white video footage of the excavation of mass graves where victims of the Iraqis were dumped.

In addition to the alleged torture tools - clubs, an ax, a saw, a screwdriver and an iron - there were exhibits of Iraqi weapons, uniforms and equipment. One bulletin board displayed copies of Iraqi orders threatening the destruction of homes that were not turned over to the occupation force.

The exhibition opened with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting by a family of five who spent nine weeks as Iraqi captives before they were freed March 9.

Among them was Fatima Naser Al-Bader, now 15 months old. Organizers of the exhibition said she was the youngest Kuwaiti known to have been taken captive by the Iraqis.

Her parents said Fatima was seriously ill during the ordeal but is now in good health.

On the playing field, soldiers from Bahrain won the opening match over Egypt, 2-1. One of two British teams followed with a 1-0 victory over a Kuwaiti squad.

The spectators included Kuwaiti men in traditional Arab dress, green- bereted Egyptian infantrymen, red-bereted French paratroopers, burly British military policemen and a handful of U.S. Army officers. One American said it was the most festive social occasion he had attended during his stint in Kuwait.

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