The ancient tradition of torture
Because YS handed out some pamphlets announcing a talk by one of her faith's religious leaders, she is threatened. Some toughs grab her brother, beat him up and ask him what else she's done against the community. That doesn't satisfy them. A few days later, she is grabbed on her walk back home from work, beaten, by five men. She's a virgin, so they use a a bottle to break her hymen. Then three of the men rape her, leaving her weeping on the garbage dump, where they heaved her when they were finished.
Undaunted, she joins a protest in the town square, carrying her 10 month old child with her. Men in uniforms arrive. She recognizes two of them. They grab her, take her baby. He starts crying. One of the men who raped her raises the baby above his head and slams the baby down on the pavement. She hears the head hit the ground and the skull break. She sees the blood pour out. They leave her to pick up the dead infant. But they are not done with her. YS could stand for Yang Soo, for Yasmin Shah, Yekaterina Sedova-- these victims face these vicissitudes routinely, every day.
Every day, people come to the USA, seeking asylum. They come because they have been tortured, gang raped, because their family members have been tortured and killed, because they've had their babies thrown to the grown, heads crushed-- to the death, because they've been imprisoned, threatened, forced to do things against their beliefs, their morals.
They come from Egypt, if they are Coptic Christians, Tibet if they are pro free-Tibet or a Buddhist supporter of the Dalia or Panchen Lamas, Russian Baptists, ALbania if they belong to the Democratic party. Human Rights Watch has reported that "Many countries-- Uzbekistan, Russia and China among them-- used the war on terrorism-- to attack their political opponents, branding them as 'Islamic terrorists.'"
Human Rights Watch documented many serious abuses outside the fight against terrorism. In May, the government of Uzbekistan massacred hundreds of demonstrators in Andijan, the Sudanese government consolidated "ethnic cleansing" in Darfur, western Sudan, and persistent atrocities were reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chechnya. Severe repression continued in Burma, North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Tibet and Xinjiang in China, while Syria and Vietnam maintained tight restrictions on civil society and Zimbabwe conducted massive, politically motivated forced evictions.
So many of the people who come to the US are heroes. They have stood up to corrupt dictatorships, repressive theofascist cultures and regimes, fighting for democracy, human rights and religious freedoms.
For standing up and fighting, they are brutally abused. It may start with taunts by workers, "strong" advice from bosses, harrassment by neighbors.
Or it can come as a knock at the door, in the middle of the night, with a group of four or five soldiers or policemen taking the 14 year old pamphleteer, the 25 year old mother of three who has attended a rally, or the daughter of an activist father. They knock on or break in the door, take the prisoner away, put her in jail, beat her, strip off her clothes, gang rape her, keep her locked up, brutally interrogate her, throw her swill once or twice a day to eat-- and then, after a few days, a few weeks, a few months, dump her at the edge of her village, to limp home, where she may be hospitalized or take weeks or months to recover enough to start functioning. She will probably never be the same psychologically. Post traumatic stress disorder is normal for victims of torture, imprisonment and rape.
This happens every day. There are thousands, probably tens or hundreds of thousands of people who fall victim to these abuses. They are women and men. Some manage to arrive, sometimes after months of hiding in car trunks, being sneaked in the dark, through borders, in the United States, where they seek asylum, knowing that if they return home they will probably be killed.
You would think we in America would do all we could to stop these horrors. But no, sadly, we've made things much, much worse.
The Military Commissions Act MCA and the edicts passed by Attorney General Gonzalez don't just affect terrorists. They affect heroes fighting democracy across the planet.
The recently passed MCA now allows law enforcement and military officials to use torture, to imprison without access to lawyers or rights.
I try to understand the minds of the torturers-- the men who give the orders to capture and torture, the men who make the capture and do the beating, the rapes, the torture. What kind of thinking enables them to do these heinous crimes?
Perhaps they are told that they are doing it for their country. Perhaps they are told their victims are evil, or that they are non-believers, since so many of the torture victims are practioners of the "wrong" religion for the country or community they are in.
America has been making it easier for the torturers to justify and feel good about what they do. "Americans do it," is a phrase that probably runs through their heads. When the bosses give the directions to capture and torture, they must be thinking that if the President of the US and the head of his Justice Department are okay with torture, and it is officially approved by the US congress, then it is okay for him to order his men to go out and grab victims to torture.
These victims are the real unsung heroes for Democracy-- not the US soldiers who have received $40,000 sign-up or re-enlistment bonuses. These unknown, nameless torture victims are paying the price for the right wing "tough on terrorism" talking points that the Republican party failingly used in the last election, and continue to failingly use.
When xenophobic Southern and rural Christian Evangelicals who have lost their way, following leaders who preach racism, hate and fear, when they support these right wing "conservative" laws that revoke the constitution, bill of rights, the Magna Carta (habeus Corpus) they are personally, each time they cast a vote for a legislator who supports the allowing of torture and imprisonments that violate human rights and the Geneva conventions.
These torture, rape and imprisonment victims are living in the US. Most are living lives of great struggle, with weak English language skills, recurring PTSD, depression, usually with children and parents still living in the country they had to flee.
It would be good if these victims could tell their stories in the megachurches, where "good" Christians are misled by bad leaders, so they actually help the torturers, the rapists.
It would be good if these victims could sit in the Hummers, Navigators, Caddies, Beamers and big SUVs, in the passenger seats, telling the greedy parasitic 55-60% of rich people who vote for right wingers just to keep taxes low (40-45% of wealthy, high income people chose to vote for people likely to raise their taxes,) how their votes heled made it easier for them to lose loved ones who were killed for fighting for freedom and democracy, to be tortured, raped.... because the USA passed legislation allowing torture.
If these supporters of right wing policies could face the victims, if they could see their scars, their tears, if they could look in their eyes and see the pain of lost family members... maybe they might wake up and realize that they, individually have been part of the process that enabled real live humans to be brutally abused.
The mainstream media should be featuring these people, welcoming them as new members of our culture, as they are approved for asylum, their horror stories being their tickets into America. A responsible MSM would report on the ways the MCA legislation would be affecting these victims. A responsible MSM would actually interview these victims and put them in viewers' living rooms.
America has taken several dangerous steps off the road of Demcracy. The most recent elections offer hope that it may be getting back on track. Among the first things the Democrats who have wrested back control of both houses of congress must do is revoke the AUM-- the Authorization to Use Military action-- from Bush, and to revoke the anti-democratic, anti-human rights Military Commissions Act. When history views the first 100 hours of the new Democratic control of the congress, correcting what the right wingers did wrong will be seen as an historic action that set priorities properly. Raising the minimum wage, investigating corruption, protecting Social Security-- these are good things, but in the scope of history, those first hundred hours will be seen as key in deciding the future of democracy.
YS's across the planet (remember Yang, Yasmin and Yekaterina,) daily facing torture and horrible imprisonments and abuses will be the beneficiaries or the victims. The Democrats, in January, at that point, will be the "deciders" for these innocent heroes of democracy.
The cases described are based on real cases, but are composite examples.
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