Thursday, June 22, 2006

Torture is Where You Find It

I agreed to write a post about Torture to help a wonderful organization called Bloggers Against Torture in response to June being Torture Awareness Month. The majority of the articles that I have seen posted have talked about government actions against citizens, but torture is not about a government/private citizen relationship. Torture is about an unjust aggressor destroying others. On Bloggers Against Torture there was a nice post about the universality of grief and suffering in which mention was made of two US soldiers who were recently tortured and killed. While I agree with the message of the universality of grief I am disgusted by the lack of outrage from the anti-torture community and organizations like Amnesty International about the brutal treatment of these two men. I believe that the reason for the lack of this outrage is that way too many people equate the soldier with the government and since the government may be unjustified in its actions that anything that happens to a soldier is just. Torture is torture, no matter where you find it.

Perhaps my stance can be further explained by sharing a bit of the personal with you. Long time readers of my blog know that I have quite the protesting history, including a total of three weeks in the Cell of Atonement for the American Kurdish Information Network. I have always been very appreciative of my right of free speech and used it as often as I can. And I also met a man, fell deeply in love, and married him; a man who is vastly more conservative than I ever thought that I could deal with. I married a soldier. In my love for him I learned to be more objective and understanding to a section of individuals that I had previous denounced. I saw that I had been making the same mis-judgement, I had been equating the soldier with the government, almost de-humanizing them. I have reformed, I have learned to see the individual in everything.

My husband fought for his country, he fought for freedom for the Iraqis....and in that fight he was badly, badly injured. He has been called a baby-killer to his face, scoffed at, called names.....and for what? For being blown up in service of his country? For trying to protect others? Soldiers are precious individuals. Soldiers are brave individuals....they understand the consequences of actions that could be taken against them in the course of their duty, and yet they still find the courage to carry on.

Army Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker were tortured and killed in the line of duty to their country and the people of Iraq. Details of the mutilations done to their bodies and their remains have been quietly covered up by the government for the soldiers' protection. But anyone who knows and loves a soldier knows what happened because it has happened to many many before them. Stories range from their eyes being gouged out, being emascultated, beheadings.... What has been released was that their bodies were "brutalized" and that the bodies were booby-trapped to prevent their fellow soldiers from collecting the remains. (At least one soldier was gravely wounded in the collecting of the remains because of an IED placed on them) Where is the outrage over this treatment? Why are we not hearing calls against the tortures perpatrated by radical Islamists? I believe that this is because the majority of anti-torture campaigns only focus on governments and neglect the individual price that is paid.

I have had many people ask me how I can reconcile my opinions and that of my husband's....there is no reconcilation needed because at both of our cores be believe in the same things. And when we have children, I will drag them along to every protest march and patriotic rally I can find. I am not alone in this sentiment.


elendil said...

AI did release a statement on the deaths. You can find it here.

Speaking for myself only, after having collected stories about all kinds of people tortured and killed for a year now, I have become quite numb. I know intellectually that every incident is an outrage, however I also know that posting my hundredth story did not affect me anywhere near as much as the first.

When I heard about the two soldiers, it felt much like the daily reports of Iraqis found tortured to death each morning on the streets of Baghdad. I know every one is an outrage, but perhaps as a self-defense mechanism, after being bombarded with this on a daily basis, I don't feel it anymore. All there is is a feeling of inevitability, like Cassandra of Greek myth: I see it's going to happen, it happens, and then I see it's going to happen tomorrow as well.

Anyway, that's my explanation for why I didn't express any rage in my post, and why I didn't feel any. But I think the sadness I felt was expressed. Unfortunately I haven't learnt to stop feeling sad yet.

Maybe with time.

Gulay said...

Yes but AI always seem to concentrate on the Western Governments and their forces....I am totally sick of this Muslim victim crap that all the liberal wooly arsed NGo's go for but then I am a Turk, hardly better in some peoples eyes...Armenians etc. but how can I apologize for something I had no control over if it did indeed happen...who really knows..but on a personal level I hate and detest all the violence in the name of religion nationalism or idealism that goes on