Tag Archives: Amnesty International

Preliminary Notes on The Physics of Modern Torture

Preliminary Notes on The Physics of Modern Torture

1. Time bends in an unpredictable manner
when twisted around a human body
using easily obtainable tools such as wires,
water, ducting tape, cigarettes, dogs, words,
silence, . . .

2. Varying sounds emanate from most orifices
depending on instruments applied.
Some sounds resemble broken words
that are often unverifiable.
Other sounds are highly similar
to those heard in abattoirs.

3. Each human body has its unique threshold.
The expected words may be extracted at different points
or not at all. Thus, another subject must always be at hand
in order for these tests to continue.

July 2008
-o-

With the release of some official information on the extent of the use of torture by the CIA, I thought it might be a good time to share this old poem of mine.

Torture is actually nothing new in the American way of dealing with anyone they want to squeeze (mis)information from. As early as 1902, the American public has heard of torture done by its soldiers stationed on the other side of the world. This New Yorker article revisits such horrors from over a century ago.

My poem first appeared in Alien to Any Skin. The book contains many poems on human rights and international politics.

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Remembering the Disappeared

embossed disappeared

Rosendo Radilla was 60 when he was forcibly disappeared in August 1974. A social activist and former mayor of Atoyac municipality, Guerrero state, Mexico, he was last seen in a military barracks, days after he was detained at a roadblock. Fellow detainees reported that he had been tortured.

As in other enforced disappearance cases, successive Mexican governments have refused to clarify what happened to Rosendo Radilla. But his family also refused to give up and took his case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This year, they hope that the court ruling will force the Mexican government to tell them the truth and ensure their right to justice.

“People ask ‘why don’t you forgive?'”, says Rosendo Radilla’s daughter Tita Radilla Martinez. “Because they don’t tell me what they did to my father. Is he dead or alive? I don’t know. I remember he would often feel cold. When he was detained I thought about that. Is he cold, hungry or thirsty? Is he in pain? How is he? We’ve spent our whole life like this. They say ‘Don’t reopen the wound’. ‘Reopen’? The wound is open, it never healed.”

All around the world, families are waiting to find out what happened to those loved ones who have been taken away from them by agents of the state or by people acting with its support or acquiescence.

Friends and relatives have no means to find out what has happened to them. The disappeared are beyond the protection of the law. Anything could happen to them. Many are tortured. Many are killed.

Sunday 30 August marks the 26th International Day of the Disappeared. Every year, Amnesty International, along with other NGOs, families associations and grassroots groups, remembers the disappeared and demands justice for victims of enforced disappearances through activities and events.

Governments use enforced disappearance as a tool of repression to silence dissent and eliminate political opposition, as well as to persecute ethnic, religious and political groups.

More than 3,000 ethnic Albanians were the victims of enforced disappearances during the armed conflict in Kosovo in 1999. These were at the hands of the Serbian police, paramilitary and military forces. More than 800 Serbs, Roma and others were abducted by armed ethnic Albanian groups. Some 1,900 families in Kosovo and Serbia are still waiting to find out what happened to their relatives.

Enforced disappearances often take place in connection with counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism operations. Chechnya, which tried to secede from the Russian Federation in 1991, has since been ravaged by two armed conflicts and a counter-terror operation. Both Russian federal forces and Chechen law enforcement officials have been implicated in enforced disappearances, which run into the thousands.

In the Philippines, over 1,600 people have disappeared since the 1970s, mostly during counter-insurgency operations against left-leaning or secessionist groups.

James Balao, an Indigenous Peoples’ rights activist and researcher, disappeared in September 2008, while driving to visit his family in La Trinidad, Benguet province.

He was stopped and bundled into a white van by armed and uniformed men claiming to be police officers. Eye-witnesses signed affidavits describing his capture and are now in hiding in fear of being persecuted.

The families and friends of those who disappear are left in an anguish of uncertainty, unable to grieve and go on with their lives. Chief Ebrima Manneh, a Gambian journalist, was arrested in July 2006 for trying to publish a BBC article critical of the Gambian government. His whereabouts remain unknown despite a landmark ruling by a West African regional court ordering the Gambian government to release him and pay damages. Ebrima Manneh’s mother says she finds it hard to enjoy anything because her son is constantly on her mind. The family told Amnesty International that they felt increasingly isolated because other people were afraid to associate with them. They also face hardship because the depended on Ebrima Manneh’s salary.

To combat enforced disappearance, in 2006 the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Once entered into force, the Convention will be an effective way to help prevent enforced disappearances, establish the truth about this crime, punish the perpetrators and provide reparations to the victims and their families

The Convention’s definition of enforced disappearance is:
“The arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons, or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.”

Read more from AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL


I Crushed Your Life, Get on With It

torture-cube

Original image from Amnesty International

No apologies.  No legal action.  Anything goes.  Whatever you did in the past is water under the bloody bridge.

US President Obama’s statements regarding the CIA’s treatment of “terrorism suspects” is simply disgusting however you look at it.  It is consistent with what previous US administrations have done in the past century to people within American borders and those living in different parts of the world.  Can you hear the sound of rattling bones?

It seems forgetting is a disease that quickly latches on even the most seemingly pro-human rights political leaders of the world.  Is the time for dreaming and hoping over?

Imagine if the same policy were used throughout the world.  Orwell’s Animal Farm comes to mind.

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Obama accused of “condoning torture”

17 April 2009

US President Barack Obama has been accused of “condoning torture” following his announcement that CIA agents who used harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects will not be prosecuted.

Amnesty International has called on the US administration to initiate criminal investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for carrying out acts of torture, including waterboarding, in its “war on terror”.

“President Obama’s statements in the last days have been very disappointing. In saying that no one will be held to account for committing acts of torture, the US administration is in effect condoning torture,” said Daniel Gorevan, of Amnesty International’s Counter Terror with Justice campaign.

“It’s saying that US personnel can commit acts of torture and the authorities will not take any action against them.

Read the rest of the Amnesty International article.
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Iraq: 128 face execution in batches of 20

Hanging rope at execution gallows, Baghdad, Iraq, 15 December 2006 © APGraphicsBank

Amnesty International
PRESS RELEASE
March, 12 2009
Amnesty International today called for the immediate intervention of Iraq’s Justice Minister to stop the execution of 128 prisoners on death row, amid reports that the authorities are planning to start executing them in batches of up to 20 starting next week.

“The Iraqi government said in 2004 that reinstating capital punishment would curb widespread violence in the country. The reality, however, is that violence has continued at extremely high levels and the death penalty has yet again been shown to be no deterrent,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme. “In fact, many attacks are perpetrated by suicide bombers who, clearly, are unlikely to be deterred by the threat of execution.”

On 9 March 2009, the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council informed Amnesty International that Iraq’s Presidential Council (comprising the President and the two Vice-Presidents) had ratified the death sentences of 128 people whose sentences had already been confirmed by the Cassation Court. The authorities are said to be planning to carry out the executions in batches of 20 per week.

Full Press Release