[imc-qc] News - Reflections from PREDA and Fr. Shay Cullen,
Philippines # 167
PREDA Information Office
predair at info.com.ph
Wed Feb 23 10:04:44 PST 2005
We must never be afraid to protest against torture
(republishing, copying, no restrictions)
By: Father Shay Cullen
This New Year, 2005, we have to take a stronger stand for human rights,
speak out and never be afraid. Last December 10th, I was brought to the
site of the former Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald, just outside the
City of Weimar, Eastern Germany, situated in a cold bleak landscape. Those
opposed to Hitler's fascist, Third Reich or suspected of being rebels or
dissenters were deprived of everything in this world-family, friends,
community, possessions dignity and human rights. In this Nazi gulag, they
were imprisoned without trial behind electrified fences guarded by dogs and
armed in guards perched in watchtowers.
Imprisoned too were Jews, Gypsies, Gays and prisoners of war. Men, women
and children in all of 115,000, of these, 85,000 were executed and tortured.
They were starved, chained, frozen, beaten, kicked, burnt, sleep deprived
and set upon by attack dogs. They were choked, strangled, abused and
tortured. They were brutally reminded that they were already given the
death penalty. Even hope of survival was taken from them.
We were brought to the extermination and crematorium. As we entered we saw
a huge photograph of a pile of emaciated skeletal bodies stacked twelve
foot high. Abandoned as the allies approached.
Here the victims were brought. Their hands and legs bound, a wire noose
pulled tight around their necks and they were hung up on meat hooks set
high on the wall to slowly strangled by their own weight. There were about
a dozen meat hooks to facilitate the mass murders. I was filled with misery
as I thought of their sufferings and terrible death.
I saw the hidden cubical from where others were systematically shot in the
back of the head. Their bodies were then thrown onto a steel platform that
was elevated to the ovens on the floor above. The hideous ovens are
preserved to this day. Their tormentors and murderers acted with impunity
and cold efficiency judging them to be above any law.
The memorial site is now an education center. The German people have vowed
'never again' to allow such abuses of human rights. They have effectively
faced their past and all German youth learn about the Nazi era and are
brought to visit the extermination camps and other memorial sites. They
learn the horrors that result from intolerance and fascism pursued with
religious like zeal.
'Never again' is what we always say to such torture and abuse. But we know
there will always be another Rwanda, Darfur, and now we have the US
concentration camps at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Abu Ghraib in Iraq and US
military prisons in Afghanistan. We have seen the photographic evidence of
the depraved sexual abuse and violations of human rights in these places of
The American Civil Liberties Union and human rights organisations won a
court order that compelled the US Government to release eyewitness reports
by FBI agents that detailed torture against prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
The ACLU brought a court action accusing the US administration of George W.
Bush of being complicit in the torture. The 550 prisoners there have never
been properly tried or convicted of a crime.
The FBI agents reported witnessing "serious physical abuse" of prisoners
chained in uncomfortable positions for up to 24 hours by their US military
interrogators. "Such abuses included strangulation beatings, placement of
lit cigarettes into the detainees ear openings and unauthorised
interrogations" the report said. The terrified prisoners were chained to
the floor in freezing temperatures. They had no food or water. One pulled
his own hair out of his head during the night. Some were so terrified they
urinated and defecated on themselves -the ultimate humiliation and denial
of human dignity.
Nothing can justify a single moment of such inhuman treatment. The Bush
administration officials who allow this and claim to be bible-reading
Christians will never escape responsibility by abrogating international
treaties that ban torture. They must be held accountable by international
and federal laws banning inhuman treatment.
White House officials made a list of permissible interrogation techniques
and act is okay provided that the torturers do not deliberately kill the
detainee. Unbelievable you may think, believe me it is true and well
documented. How close is this to what went on in Buchenwald? Too close, all
too close. (End)
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