Torture Awareness Month
TASSC has declared the month of June as Torture Awareness Month (Spanish, French). Let us raise our voices and declare: “No Torture. Not Now. Not Ever.”
We must not be bystanders! Instead, let us stand together against torture by participating in the following events and activities organized by TASSC.
Let us remind the world and its leaders that we have zero tolerance for torture in the United States and the over 150 countries where this crime against humanity is practiced today.
In 2003, George W. Bush had this to say about torture:
"The U.S. is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the U.S. and the community of law abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating and prosecuting all acts of torture."
— George W. Bush on Torture Victims Recognition Day, June 26, 2003
From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to secret prisons around the world, detainees are being tortured with the full knowledge and support of the administration. Far too many people are making excuses to justify the illegal and immoral torture of fellow human beings.
Does torture work? No. Has the use of torture stopped any terrorist attacks? No. Has the use of torture made America safer? A thousand times: NO!
From Amnesty International:
Earlier this year the US government submitted a report to the UN Committee against Torture, the first such report since the USA launched its “war on terror” after the 11 September 2001 attacks, in which time the world has witnessed the opening of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in Iraq and revelations about the US programme of “rendition”.
On 19 May 2006 the Committee issued recommendations to the US government over its compliance with its treaty obligations under the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The committee has refuted categorically the US government’s assertion that torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the "war on terror" has been the result of the actions of a few "bad apples".
The Committee recommended that the USA:
– Close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, and ensure that those transferred are not sent to countries where they may face further abuse
– "Cease the rendition of suspects" as this violates the non-refoulement obligation not to transfer individuals to where they are at risk of torture
– Apply the Convention to all areas under effective US control. The Committee stressed that the Convention applies in times of war or peace.
– Ensure that all those responsible for acts of torture or other ill-treatment are held responsible for their actions and appropriately punished.
The US delegation to the UN stated that the USA takes its international obligations regarding torture extremely seriously.
Amnesty International calls on the USA to match action to these laudable words, and ensure that it respects its obligations at home and abroad.
Join your voice to those calling on all countries to renounce the use of torture, and tell the US government: Not In My Name!
Join Bloggers Against Torture. 100 blogs have signed on so far, and more joining every day!
Read Notes from the Middle East by Adele Welty over at Donkephant.
As most of you already know, I was part of a delegation, puttogether with extraordinary care by Medea Benjamin and Chris Michael of Global Exchange in San Francisco. We traveled to Amman, Jordan,with medical supplies, blankets, heaters and water purifiers for the refugees in the camps outside Falluja. Global Exchange received donations of medications from a large pharmaceutical company as well as small donations of supplies and cash valued at $600,000.
Once again, my vocabulary is not adequate to describe the experience of meeting Iraqis, for whom every day is September 11th. These good people, who wept as they told their stories, risked their lives tocome to Amman to meet with us. We were Americans, some of whom had lost sons in Iraq, Military Families Against the War. I represented September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. Some members of the delegation were Americans who have not lost a loved one, but have concluded that the war is wrong, that Iraq had no weapons of massdestruction (except those for which Rumsfeld has the receipts) and no complicity in 9/11. We met with Arabs whose, long history of oppression has made them cynical of Americans, but who greeted us with warmth and gratitude for caring enough to come with medical supplies and humanitarian aid. I told them that Timmy had died on 9/11 trying to rescue civilians trapped in the twin towers and that now innocent civilians are being killed in his name and we were all trying to stop it.
Allegations were made that would not stand up in a court of law. They would be labeled hearsay, for although the storytellers were eyewitnesses to these events, we are not mandated reporters. These stories, they so movingly related, are difficult to accept. Yet we heard similar allegations repeated by different groups that arrived over the course of the week we were in Amman. Stories of atrocities committed by American troops that make Abu Graib seem like childish pranks instead of the horrible acts of violence they really were.They told us that since Abu Graib, the torture of prisoners has gotten worse, but there are other prisons in Iraq, outside of Baghdad, prisons that are underground and are not monitored by outside agencies. There, whole families are detained, the males beaten and the women raped in full view of the other prisoners.
They told us about routine instances of tanks rolling over and crushing cars on the road, cars filled with people. In one instance, a car contained a seven year old girl, whose father had just run into the market. She was screaming and banging on the window as the tank crushed the car around her. Many of the Iraqis testified to having witnessed this type of occurrence more than once. Others told of troops smashing down doors in the middle of the night and shooting the males in the household, often in front of their mothers and wives. And then there were the incidents of rape, the rape of teenage girls before the eyes of their parents and siblings. Upon learning they have made an error, the officers come back with two thousand dollars compensation and an apology for killing the heads of households by mistake. […]
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