An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Make Their Humanity Felt



"A Cambridge-based human rights organization said it has found medical evidence supporting the claims of 11 former detainees who were allegedly tortured while in American custody between 2001 and 2004, in what a former top US military investigator said amounts to evidence of war crimes. Medical evaluations of the former inmates found injuries consistent with the alleged abuse, including the psychological effects of sensory deprivation and forced nudity as well as signs of 'severe physical and sexual assault,'" Physicians for Human Rights said in a report scheduled for release today." - Human Rights Group Says It Has Proof of Detainee Abuse

When another group of murders and torturers wanted to stone a woman to death, Jesus dared say to them: "Let the one without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." While Anthony Scalia mocks the constitution by pretending that torture is not punishment, Christians who lack the courage to speak let innocent men be tortured. If all the Christians who oppose torture in their name had the courage and awareness to carry out direct actions and let conscience sound its trumpet, the practice would end tomorrow. But we are too protective of our accomplishments. We can't tear a hole in the cocoon of our ambition. And so the torture continues - this time with our fingerprints.

According to Major General Anthony Taguba, "[BROKEN LAWS, BROKEN LIVES: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact] tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture." - BROKEN LAWS, BROKEN LIVES: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact by Physicians for Human Rights

The key phrase here is "systematic regime". Major General Taguba, the officer in charge of the investigation of Abu Ghraib, is formally charging those at the top of our government who we now know ordered and in many cases, designed, the tortures that this report uncovers with a full array of medical evidence. His words demand justice, "After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account." BROKEN LAWS, BROKEN LIVES: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact by Physicians for Human Rights

The medical findings presented in this report demonstrate conclusively that the American executive branch is guilty of war crimes. This is also the conclusion of the general who was appointed to investigate the torture at Abu Ghraib, Major General Taguba. The environment that led to this abuse was deliberately fostered by the highest government officials, as demonstrated by the documentary and medical evidence. "This report demonstrates that the permissive environment created by implicit and explicit authorizations by senior US officials to 'take the gloves off' encouraged forms of torture even beyond the draconian methods approved at various times between 2002 and 2004. In an environment of moral disengagement that countenances authorized techniques designed to humiliate and dehumanize detainees, it is not surprising that other forms of human cruelty such as physical and sexual assault were practiced. The fact that these unauthorized torture practices happened over extended periods of time at multiple US detention facilities suggests that a permissive command environment existed across theatres and at several levels in the chain-of-command. This climate allowed both authorized and unauthorized techniques to be practiced, apparently without consequence." - BROKEN LAWS, BROKEN LIVES: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact by Physicians for Human Rights

In order to protect our freedom, a man who was never charged with a crime experienced the gentle hand of the American liberator in this way: "In the most horrific incident Amir recalled experiencing, he was placed in a foul-smelling room and forced to lay face down in urine, while he was hit and kicked on his back and side. Amir was then sodomized with a broomstick and forced to howl like a dog while a soldier urinated
on him. After a soldier stepped on his genitals, he fainted." - BROKEN LAWS, BROKEN LIVES: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact by Physicians for Human Rights

The report is the most extensive medical study of former detainees published so far and directly corroborates their stories with physical evidence. It followed the standards and methods of the Istanbul protocol contains the accepted international guidelines for assessing physical and psychological evidence of torture, to document the war crimes carried out by the orders of executive officials in Washington, D.C.

The scars we (the Christians of America) have inflicted on these men have ripped holes in our own spirits as well. "John Howard Yoder once said that a pacifist was a person who realized that in striking another, you harm yourself more — this is the moral consequence of violence...Ultimately, torture is a terrorist tool, and by using it we ourselves become terrorists." Chuck Gutenson, "Losing Our Souls"

Jesus broke the spell of violence, the ecstatic frenzy of ego gone mad, and all the stone throwers drifted away, pried apart by tugs of conscience. But he did much more than save a life - he "... struck the stone -- the pyre, the noose, the chair, the firing squad, the death chamber -- from authority's hands." - John Dear, "Abolish the Death Penalty Now!" By writing in the sand and speaking words that stung, he stripped the legitimacy from state-sponsored death forever.

Read the report - BROKEN LAWS, BROKEN LIVES: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact by Physicians for Human Rights - and consider taking part in direct actions against the abuse of our fellow children of God such as the the recent action by the Witness Against Torture activists who protested at the Supreme Court on Jan. 11 this year. Each protester will enter their name as the name of a Guantanamo detainee. Thus the names of those whose abuse was blanketed with silence will be heard in a public court. Go to http://www.jonahhouse.org/Jan1108trial.htm
for details.

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