Archive for January 24th, 2011

The nature of torture

Torture practices include beatings such as jumping on the victim’s stomach; falacca or falanga, which involves beating the soles of the feet with rods; telephono, where the torturer claps flattened palms over the victim’s ears rupturing the tympanic membrane in the process; the use of electricity, including tying victims to a metal bed before applying a current and the use of pointed electrodes placed on the victim’s genitalia; burning; submarino, the submersion of the victim’s head in dirty water until the point of suffocation is almost reached; rape and forced sexual assault; suspension in mid-air with knees bent over a rod and tied tightly to wrists; deprivation of water; fake executions; the forced witnessing of the torture of the victim’s family or children; being held incommunicado; sensory deprivation; the forced injection of psychotropic drugs or ‘faecal matter’.

Tortured in Syria by Italy

Mohammed Majid Shakir was tortured by the Syrians under the command of the Italians. He explains the torture methods used upon him by the Syrians.

“Their instruments of torture were :-

a. Blasphemy. They insulted Allah(swt), his messenger(saw), and tore up the Qu’ran

b. Beating with sticks. They attacked me with a hard stick, and if I tried to defend myself they attacked me harder. Whilst this was happening, I could hear the screams of the other brothers, and they haunt me still to this day.

c. In the winter, in the cell of torture the brothers were tied to a chair by their hands and feet, and into a cell that was freezing. They put an electric fan on us in our faces from morning to afternoon” (Help the Prisoners, 2010)

Tortured in Baghram

Moazzam Beg narrates his experience in Baghram prison, he states, “One particular month in May, I was subjected to some extremely harsh interrogation techniques, which included being – or having my hands tied behind my back to my legs like an animal, as they call in America ‘hogtied’, with a hood placed over my head so I was in a suffocating position, kicked and beaten and sworn at and spat  at, left to rot in this position for hours and hours on end and taken again into interrogation, and this lasted over a period of over a month. That wasn’t the worst of it, of course. The worst of it for me was the psychological part, because all of this time I had no communication with my family at all. I didn’t know what happened to my wife or my children. For all I knew they could have done terrible things to them. And that was my biggest fear. (Moazzam Begg, quoted in Democracy Now!, 2006)

Torture in Abu Ghraib

In 2004, the world witnessed the shocking institutionally sanctioned torture of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. The vile images of grinning American soldiers standing over shackled, naked and hooded Iraqi men in demeaning, sexually humiliating and contorted positions stunned the liberal conscience of the Western world. Rather than the aberrant behaviour of an isolated few, it became clear that the nine soldiers who were court-martialled for the crimes were indeed responding to orders issued from the highest levels of military government.

Death at Camp Delta

On June 9, 2006, three detainees died while in custody at Camp 1 of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. Yassar Talal Al Zahrani, Mani Shaman Turki Al Habardi Al Tabi, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed were reported to have been found hanging in their cells at approximately 00:20 on June 10. According to descriptions from the guards, medics, and autopsy reports, all three detainees were cold to the touch, bluish in colour, and in a state of rigor mortis, indicating that each had been dead for more than two hours at the time of discovery. Their eyes were rolled back in their sockets and they had no pulse. Rigor mortis locked their jaws and impeded resuscitation attempts. In the case of one detainee, his jaw had to be pried open with a metal instrument that broke his teeth. At that time, medical personnel discovered that he had a cloth deep in his mouth and down his throat. The same condition was discovered in the other two bodies. The investigations did not explain why the detainees had rags in their throats (Death in Camp Delta, 2009).

Guantanamo Bay

Binyamin Mohammed recalls his experience of prison in Guantanamo Bay, It is still difficult for me to believe that I was abducted, hauled from one country to the next, and tortured in medieval ways – all orchestrated by the United States government…There are thousands of other prisoners held by the US elsewhere around the world, with no charges, and without access to their families. And I have to say, more in sadness than in anger, that many have been complicit in my own horrors over the past seven years. For myself, the very worst moment came when I realised in Morocco that the people who were torturing me were receiving questions and materials from British intelligence (BBC News, 23rd February 2009)

Implications of torture

There are a significant amount of detention centres around the world, specifically designed to torture victims. Cruel and callous methods of torture render the victims as helpless and in many cases, ultimately causing their deaths. The victims of torture are owed one thing above all else: justice. The perpetrators of torture must be exposed for who they are, and for what they have done. There is no statute of limitations on inhumanity. Those who designed and implemented the torture and illegal rendition programmes must be punished for their crimes or the laws forbidding these activities will be recognised as meaningless. These inhumane acts were committed against real people. Only the victims can forgive those who violated their human rights and stained the moral consciousness of humanity.


Intellectual Insurgency


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