Saturday, January 30, 2010

TASSC: A Torture-Survivor Group Reports

On January 10, 2010, more than a hundred survivor members, friends, and supporters of TASSC gathered at our office to celebrate the New Year. The occasion was festive and it was inspiring to hear many survivors share their words of wisdom and courage. Friends of TASSC also expressed their hope, commitment, and dedication to stand by the survivors and work for truth and justice. We all gathered with a common purpose to validate the struggle of those who suffered from torture, to stand in solidarity with TASSC survivor members and to work for a world where kindness, compassion, and empathy prevail.

During the gathering, I had a chance to talk with many people. Some told me that many good steps have been taken to fight against torture but much more needs to be done. I agree. This administration and indeed the international community must stop and ask themselves whether they are doing enough to prevent acts of torture, assist survivors, punish perpetrators, and ensure that these heinous acts are not repeated. At TASSC, we are not only working to abolish torture and support torture survivors, but we demand that perpetrators, whether governments, corporations, or other non-state actors, provide reparations for survivors. We are also calling on countries to increase their contributions to the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture as part of a universal commitment for the healing and recovery of torture victims-a Fund which is critical to the distribution of funds to NGOs and treatment centers to assist those subjected to torture and their families.

We are committed to continuing our work to abolish the practice of torture this coming year and thank all those who make our work possible. We look forward to working with you in 2010!

Demissie Abebe
Executive Director

TASSC Joins Witness Against Torture in a Fast and Vigil to Close Guantanamo

For 12 days in January, 150 people from Witness against Torture, fasted, prayed, vigiled, lobbied Congress, and engaged in actions of non-violent civil resistance to call for an end to torture and the closing of Guantanamo. Throughout the 12 days, survivors and fasters remembered the victims of torture, and called on the Obama administration to release the prisoners already cleared, charge all others in federal criminal court, and guarantee that no one will be sent to countries that practice torture.

Throughout the two weeks, survivors from TASSC International joined in the activities, and were a visible presence on the final day when 42 anti-torture activists from Witness against Torture were arrested at the US Capitol in an effort to dramatize what has been a source of national embarrassment and shame as officials of the Bush administration engaged in justifying, practicing, and covering up torture, in defiance of domestic and international law.

A Report on the January 11-22 Fasting for the Close Down of Guantanamo Prison

The 12 days fasting for the close of the Guantanamo prison was a fantastic event beyond compare. It moved hearts and minds towards a dream of a peaceful world.

The main theme of the fasting was "Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives." This marks the failure of President Barack Obama's promises to close down the prison after one year of his inauguration on January 20, 2009. The event kicked off with a press conference with lawyers and human rights activists from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and activists from Witness against Torture, as well as people of good will who expressed their views about torture.

Participants in the fasting included survivors of torture from TASSC from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Philippines, and Palestine who are living in the United States. They shared their experience of torture and their courage to start life again after a long separation from their families, children, husbands and wives. They promised to be empowered to work with the UN to ensure that torture is abolished world-wide, and shared how their human rights were violated by their own governments.


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