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A Day to Support Torture Survivors

June 22, 2011

Sunday, June 26th, a Day to Support Survivors of Torture

Sunday, June 26th, is recognized by the United Nations as an International Day in Support of Torture Survivors. (See Wikipedia for further background on this event.) Though it’s unfortunately not much noticed in the United States, except by those involved in the care and support of immigrant survivors, it’s celebrated by such organizations throughout the world, in an effort to better inform the public about survivors’ needs and concerns. 
            TASSC, the Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition, one of the organizations the Refuge Media Project has been working with, is hosting a weeklong calendar of events entitled “We Remember the Names and Faces.” TASSC’s annual observance has become well known in the Washington, DC, area and around the country. Another of our partners, the Center for Victims of Torture in Minnesota, holds an annual tree-planting ceremony at its Minneapolis headquarters.

IRCT’s “Micro Film” Competition Winner Announced

For the past several years the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Survivors, based in Denmark, has held a competition for short films to mark the event. The IRCT reports that filmmakers from Kenya to the Netherlands submitted films to its “Micro-Film Competition” this year, and the winner was Tom Erik Douglas Smith, with his short animation, “Overcoming Psychological Torture.”  

In its statement announcing the award, the IRCT noted: “Poverty is the theme of our campaign this year. Poverty is a root cause of torture and also an effect of torture on individuals, their families and wider societies. Providing rehabilitation to survivors, as well as working for justice and prevention of torture therefore helps break a cycle of poverty.”

The Refuge Media Project was the winner of the IRCT’s 2009 competition for 30-second public service announcements. My son, filmmaker Jesse Achtenberg, and I put together the winning TV spot using footage shot for the Project’s documentary-in-progress, Refuge: Caring for Survivors of TortureYou can see our award-winning spot on the IRCT website.

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