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New Resources: 3-23-2011

March 23, 2011

The Meeting with Evil  

”There are methods so monstrous that one cannot bear even hearing about them. That is why many people turn their backs on the mere mention of torture – and, tragically, also on those working against torture”
                                         — Inge Genefke

The Meeting with Evil: Inge Genefke’s Fight Against Torture is a brief essay on the life and career of Dr. Inge Genefke, a pioneer in the movement to treat and support survivors of torture. Trained as a neurologist, she participated in forming Amnesty International’s first group focused on the issue of torture and went on to found one of the world’s first treatment centers as well as the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, IRCT.
            Commenting on the so-called “war on terror,” she notes“Torture is not about extracting vital information to make the world a safer place, but rather to break the spirit of dissidents. It does not prevent terror; it creates terrorists.”
Genefke was the winner, in 1988, of the Right Livelihood Award, “for outstanding vision and work on behalf of our planet and its people.” Her acceptance speech is a moving introduction to her work and philosophy. (The 2006 winner of the award, Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the world’s most famous whistle-blower, was recently arrested when he and other demonstrators attempted to deliver a letter to the commander of Quantico Marine Base, in Virginia, in support of accused Wikileaker Bradley Manning. (Images from website of the Right Livelihood Award.)

Cruel and Not So Unusual

Writing on Huffington Post, author Anne-Marie Cusac writes: “Torture is American…How do I know? I am a reporter who for years covered allegations of prison abuse and ill treatment in domestic U.S. prisons.”

“Nearly every technique used at Abu Ghraib had a close, recent parallel in a U.S. facility, as I recount in my book, Cruel and Unusual: The Culture of Punishment in America. Just to mention a few parallels, inmates in domestic U.S. prisons have been threatened with electrocution, intimidated with dogs, restrained nude, and restrained for weeks. Some U.S. inmates have alleged that they were forced to soil themselves, an allegation that also arose in Iraq…Prisons are closed, private places. Most of us don’t know, and would rather know little, about what life inside is like.

Cusac’s post was written, in part, as a commentary on the life and suicide of U.S. soldier Alyssa Peterson, who committed suicide after refusing an assignment to interrogate Iraqi prisoners in U.S. military detention. “It occurred to me,” she goes on, “that the insides of prisons say a great deal about our country…Our lives outside are linked to those inside, whether we admit this to ourselves or not. Alyssa Peterson appears to have made the same realization in the days before her death. The wrenching revelation that she was punished for showing empathy to prisoners offers only a hint of the human costs our punishment culture extracts.”
            Cusac won the prestigious George Polk Award for her investigation of the use of stun guns in American prisons. Information from her investigations of the stun belt and the restraint chair helped prompt the United Nations Committee Against Torture to call for a ban on the devices.

(If ordering books or DVDs discussed in this blog from Amazon, please consider doing so through our website, which will help to support the work of The Refuge Media Project. Click on the Book titles above to be redirected to our site.)

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