The Obama administration is fond of saying that it wants to “look forward” on torture, not “backward;” that is, it does not want to investigate or prosecute anyone. But failure to act now could increase the risk of torture recurring under the next administration.
There are too many horrific acts – like forced rectal feeding and hydration – that we only learned of due to the report and that we must ensure will never happen again.
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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
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
White crosses in memory of those victims of violence are seen around Tegucigalpa after being placed by members of human rights organizations, on July 9, 2014. (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Victims of abuses in Honduras rely upon the work of human rights defenders in their country for help. But what happens when the defenders themselves become the target of threats and violence?
Amnesty International’s recent report, Defending Human Rights in the Americas: Necessary, Legitimate and Dangerous, features several examples of abuses directed against human rights defenders in Honduras: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Over two dozen people were arrested in raids against media critical of Turkish president. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
A wave of arrests Sunday morning shook Turkey and made headline news throughout the world. The arrests, which are part of a broad campaign against the Gülen Movement, were hardly a surprise. A twitter user had leaked information about it some days in advance, it was preceded by some typically fire-breathing speeches by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the Istanbul Prosecutor’s office issued a press release before the arrests were made. In total 27 people were arrested, including a number of journalists and media figures.
Along with other human rights organizations, Amnesty has called on Turkish authorities to release those arrested yesterday unless authorities can produce “credible evidence that they have committed a recognizably criminal offense.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The new “Young Black Alive” campaign is aimed at tackling the underlying human rights issues behind Brazil’s soaring youth homicide rate. © Anistia Internacional Brasil
By Atila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil
Earlier this week, many people around the world waited with bated breath for a grand jury’s decision in a case where a police officer shot dead an unarmed young black man on the street. While the 9 August shooting of Michael Brown took place in the US suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, the case has a deep resonance here in Brazil. The tragic course of events leading up to the teenager’s death could just as easily have played out on the streets of our cities orfavelas.
Of the 56,000 homicides in Brazil every year, 30,000 are young people aged 15 to 29. That means that, at this very moment, a young person is most likely being killed in Brazil. By the time you go to bed, 82 will have died today. It’s like a small airplane full of young people crashing every two days, with no survivors. This would be shocking enough by itself, but it’s even more scandalous that 77 per cent of these young people are black. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Witnesses stand by the car of television journalist Antonio ‘Tony’ Quintero in Honduras. Quinteros was attacked in his car by gunmen and was seriously wounded, whilst a friend who accompanied him died in the attack. In the last four years, some 33 journalist have been murdered in Honduras (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).
Back in December, Amnesty activists responded to an Urgent Action on the murder of Honduran journalist Juan Carlos Argeña. Not only has there not been any progress in this case, Amnesty has had to issue a new Urgent Action on behalf of Mario Argeñal, Juan Carlos’ brother.
Unidentified men have threatened and intimidated Mario in response to his public statements about the killing of his brother and his calls for justice in the case.
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“The human rights situation in Honduras seems to deteriorate every day. It looks like no one is safe from the widespread violence and insecurity. Those defending human rights are particularly exposed to abuses and attacks.”
-Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Americas Deputy Program Director.
On Sunday, November 24, Hondurans will vote for their next president. Amnesty International recognizes this as an historic opportunity to improve human rights in the Central American nation. AI has sent an open letter to all of the candidates outlining specific actions that the next president must take in the areas of
- Human Rights Defenders
- Public Security
- Individuals & Communities at Risk (Indigenous, Garífuna, Campesinos, Women, & LGBTI)
Amnesty is very concerned about the safety of human rights defenders and journalists during and immediately after the elections. Please send a message to President Lobo that he must guarantee the protection of these individuals before, during, and after Sunday’s elections. We suggest you also send President the following tweets in English and Spanish:
- .@PEPE_LOBO Will you publicly commit to zero tolerance of attacks against #humanrights defenders & journalists during #Honduras elections?
- .@PEPE_LOBO ¿Se comprometerá a cero tolerancia de ataques contra periodistas y defensoras/es de #DDHH durante #EleccionesHonduras?
Please also tweet the presidential candidates to tell them to protect human rights:
- .@andrespavon_ @VilledaMauricio Will you commit to protect #humanrights defenders & journalists? #EleccionesHonduras
- .@JuanOrlandoH @XiomaraCastroZ Will you commit to protect #humanrights defenders & journalists? #EleccionesHonduras
- .@SalvadorNasrala @RomeoVasquezV @OrleSols @Pinusd_HN Will you commit to protect #humanrights defenders and journalists? #EleccionesHonduras
Investigations personnel inspect the car of Honduran Judge Mireya Efigenia Mendoza Pena, where she was found shot dead on July 24, 2013. 64 law professionals including Mendoza have been killed in Honduras since January 2010 (Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images).
“For us, there were two hours of terror, but for the people there, it’s something that never ends, it’s daily. In this sense, we have to use what has happened to denounce nationally and internationally what is occurring in this region.”
–Orlane Vidal, a French volunteer abducted while working with Honduran activists in Nueva Esperanza
Less than a week ago, I posted about the killing of an indigenous community leader when Honduran troops opened fire on a peaceful march. I also reported a sad update on the case of a Honduran journalist who was abducted in June – Amnesty confirmed his mutilated body had been located.
Now, I have three more cases of attacks on human rights defenders to tell you about:
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Turkish policeman detain a protestor during a protest on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul (Photo Credit: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images).
Ugly police violence and repression of freedom of speech and of assembly continue in Turkey, where attempts to stage protests in Taksim Square have been repeatedly suppressed with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets in the past few days.
The toll has been heavy. As an Amnesty statement released on July 9 notes, “[according] to the Istanbul Medical Association at least 30 people were injured yesterday including a 17 year-old… who is in a critical condition with head injuries after he was hit with a gas canister.”
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Ali İsmail Korkmaz succumbed to his wounds this week, the fifth confirmed death in the violence. According to newspaper reports, Korkmaz was injured during protests in Eskişehir on June 2, when he attempted to escape police tear gas and was “brutally beaten by a group wearing civilian clothes.” No arrests have been made in the case. He was nineteen years old.
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