After 30 Years, Accountability for Police Torture in Chicago

This article originally appeared in McClatchy

While the nation watches as the city of Baltimore awaits justice from the investigation of the role of Baltimore police in the death of Freddie Gray, Chicago has just made history in holding police accountable for abuse.

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Will the Garland Shooting Show Us An America We Can Believe In?

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Scale model of the statue of Liberty, in Paris, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Photo Credit: JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

When I heard about the shooting in Garland, Texas, my first thought was: Is my family safe?

I grew up in a town near Garland, and much of my family still lives there. I didn’t know who had been shot at or why, but I wanted to know if my loved ones were okay. They were.

My second thought was less urgent: it was just a nostalgia for my hometown in Texas. Its treeless freeways and strip shopping malls were bland. But the people where I grew up were kind and inviting – even the teenagers, and even when it came to people like me.

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Make This Crucial Call Today to Help Unseal the Truth on Torture

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Take a minute to imagine this.

You are taken from your home in the middle of the day, blindfolded and shackled on a plane, then taken to a place you’ve never seen before. Here, you are subjected to some of the most degrading treatment imaginable.

  • Forced rectal feeding to humiliate and exert control over you;
  • Shackled into standing positions, hung naked except for diapers, forced into sleep deprivation for days and weeks;
  • Held in total darkness and isolation for days with only a bucket to use for human waste.

But for dozens of men who were “disappeared” by the U.S. government and held in secret sites around the world from 2002 to 2008, this isn’t just imagination. This was reality. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

No One Should Get Away With Torture

Professor Noam Chomsky (photo: Donna Coveney)

Professor Noam Chomsky (photo: Donna Coveney)

This is an American Torture Story.

Majid Khan was at the mercy of CIA interrogators for 1,200 days — at least. During that time, he was stripped. He was forced into ice water baths. He was “hung up” for a day in a sleep deprivation position. He was denied solid food for seven days.

After about a year, Majid Khan went on hunger strike to protest the treatment he was receiving. The CIA responded with “involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration.”  Majid’s lunch tray, consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was “pureed” and “rectally infused.” This happened repeatedly. Eventually, Majid Khan attempted to cut his wrists.  SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

How to Get Away With Torture: 6 All Too Easy Steps

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More than 100 people were “disappeared” by the U.S. government and shuttled to secret detention sites between 2002 and 2008. Many were tortured.

Thanks to a new U.S. Senate report, we know more about how this happened than ever before. We’re calling it “The American Torture Story.” It’s a story that had to be written: and now it’s a story that must be read.

Shockingly, the US Justice Department, charged with investigating violations of the law, is apparently refusing to read to this Senate study—let alone act upon it. And as a new Amnesty International report shows: No one has been brought to justice. The United States is providing de facto amnesty to torturers.

Here’s 6 ways that those responsible have gotten away with torture – and 6 reasons we must act. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Did Death Sentences in US Increase or Decrease Last Year?

2014 death penalty top 5Amnesty International released its annual death penalty report last week, Death Sentences and Executions 2014, which tracks all known use of the death penalty on the planet from the past year. The report shows a large increase in global death sentences of 28%.

But the news isn’t all bad. Here in the United States, the death penalty’s steady decline continues unabated.

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The Roar of A Thousand Activists

By Ann Burroughs, Amnesty International USA board chair, and Steven W. Hawkins, Amnesty International USA executive director

Last week, over 1,100 human rights activists gathered in Brooklyn, New York. What for? Amnesty International USA’s Annual General Meeting, appropriately themed this year “From Moment to Movement.” Braving rain and snow, people who have been members for decades –perhaps having joined as a result of the Human Rights Concerts of the 1980s—joined with those new to Amnesty– together reflecting on the spark of change that can begin in an instant and reverberate for years.

So that’s the ‘what’ – but why? What happens when you gather this powerhouse of activism in one place for one weekend? The answers say a lot about what it means to turn a moment into a movement.

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Cesar Chavez: A Birthday Gift

A man holds a portrait of Cesar Chavez at a mass in Los Angeles. Chavez was born on March 31, 1927. (c) David McNew/Getty Images)

A man holds a portrait of Cesar Chavez at a mass in Los Angeles. Chavez was born on March 31, 1927. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

By Jesús Canchola Sánchez

Cesar Chavez was born on March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona. My grandmother is a year younger than him. She was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. Cesar Chavez and my abuela (grandmother), Beatriz Soto, are a part of me. Their experiences, successes, and faults have constructed my identity in the United States. Without their stories, I wouldn’t have my voice. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Tech and Human Rights: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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As someone whose job it is to take advantage of technological progress for human rights research and advocacy, I am a strong proponent of using new tools and methods to advance Amnesty International’s goals. There is a proven track record of how technology can help human rights researchers and defenders in their daily work. However, any debate on this topic should not overlook the increasing challenges and threats that new technologies and digital networks pose for our profession. I am increasingly interested in exploring this undeniable tension, and I am fortunate enough to moderate a panel related to this topic Amnesty International USA’s Annual General Meeting in Brooklyn this weekend (full details below). SEE THE REST OF THIS POST