As the latest crisis in Iraq unfolds, here are three basic points for U.S. policymakers to keep in mind:
By Darrell Cannon, Torture Survivor and Activist
My name is Darrell Cannon. I’m here to share the story of more than 100 people who were tortured by Chicago police under the command of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.
I am a survivor. And I need your help.
On Nov. 2, 1983, a contingent of police officers burst into my family’s apartment and arrested me for murder.
On the way to Chicago’s Area 2 headquarters, they warned me that they had “a scientific way of interrogating n******.”
They later drove me to a secluded location, where they forced a shotgun in my mouth and pulled the trigger over and over again, making me believe it was loaded each time. They pulled my pants down and shocked me with a cattle prod on my genitals.
By Haitham Ghoniem, Egyptian Human Rights Activist and Researcher at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
It was in the first week of this April, before noon prayers, when the doorbell rang. My mother saw a muscular man dressed in a white shirt and trousers standing at the door. She was too scared to open it, especially as he looked like a military man.
He rang the bell several times. When no one answered, he asked our neighbor if someone named Haitham Ghoniem lived here. He questioned her about my whereabouts. Then he proceeded to scour the entire building.
My mother called and warned me not to come home ever again.
By Claudia Vandermade, Amnesty USA Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator
Yes – you read this blog title correctly. Maybe you shook your head, gasped, blinked your eyes and re-read it. The answer to your sputtered question is: Shari’a laws in Aceh, Indonesia.
On May 1, a group of eight men stormed into the woman’s house in Langsa district, accused her of having an affair with a married man, gang-raped her and beat her male companion. Now, she may face being caned a maximum of nine times for the crime of adultery.
Darrell Cannon was tortured by three Chicago Police Department detectives at a remote site on Chicago’s South Side. Over course of a day, they pressed a cattle prod to his testicles and put it into his mouth. The officers attempted to lift him off the ground by handcuffs secured behind his back, contorting his upper body. They repeatedly made him believe that they had loaded a shotgun and rammed in into his mouth, breaking his tooth.
“These are all things they enjoyed doing,” Darrell Cannon told Amnesty International, his voice cracking.
He spent 24 years in prison on the basis of a coerced confession that was tortured out of him – ten of those years suffering further degradation in solitary confinement at Tamms Supermax prison.
Right now, a man named Albert Woodfox is sitting in a concrete and steel cage in a prison near the northernmost edge of the State of Louisiana. His cell is barely the size of a parking space, and he leaves it for a scant hour each day. When Albert awoke yesterday morning, it was to begin the first day of his forty-second year in solitary confinement.
By Said Haddadi, Amnesty International Iraq Researcher
Osama Jamal Abdallah Mahdi, a 32-year-old father of two, has now spent more than two years on death row in Iraq for a crime he says he didn’t commit.
His uncle is now his only hope. From his home in Wichita, Kansas more than 6,000 miles away, Musadik Mahdi is spearheading a campaign for his nephew’s release.
The Iraqi-born engineer has contacted Congressmen, diplomats, the media and NGOs, including Amnesty International, in an attempt to get Osama’s conviction overturned. And time is running out – Musadik fears that Osama could be dragged to the gallows any day now.
On Friday, President Obama is expected to visit Saudi Arabia, a country whose government is highly repressive. But instead of raising human rights, Obama’s trip has been described by The New York Times as focused on “fence-mending.”
This is the wrong approach.
As we say in our Amnesty International letter to President Obama:
For too long, the U.S. has put geopolitics and access to energy over support for human rights in its relationship with Saudi Arabia. As an ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia has been spared the blunt criticisms that U.S. officials make of other governments that commit serious human rights violations.