23 November 2007

Unsubscribe Me: Disturbing Video and Campaign Against Torture

Among the insidious aspects of government-sanctioned torture are the euphemisms used to describe it. Softening the citizenry against its outrage is almost as important as "softening" detainees to reveal information that may or may not be accurate - and usually is not. (And note even the use of the word "softening" as the euphemistic substitution for "torturing.")

Two campaigns have begun to enable people to know precisely what is being done in their names: informed consent of the public is, after all, a requirement for democratic governance. One is waterboarding.org that explains,
Waterboarding induces panic and suffering by forcing a person to inhale water into the sinuses, pharynx, larynx, trachea, and lungs.

The head is tilted back and water is poured into the upturned mouth or nose. Eventually the subject cannot exhale more air or cough out more water, the lungs are collapsed, and the sinuses and trachea are filled with water. The subject is drowned from the inside, filling with water from the head down. The chest and lungs are kept higher than the head so that coughing draws water up and into the lungs while avoiding total suffocation. "His sufferings must be that of a man who is drowning, but cannot drown."
Especially have a look at this brief analysis on why waterboarding can be considered as the ideal torture.

The second campaign comes with a warning: the video is extremely disturbing, and is not recommended for viewing by those who are easily traumatized. Unsubscribe-me.org is an organization that is calling for people to unsubscribe themselves from supporting government-sanctioned torture, effectively withdrawing the democratic mandate that a government enjoys to perpetrate such atrocities.
Waiting For The Guards is the first of 3 films commissioned by Amnesty to highlight the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the “War on Terror”.

The Directors approached the making of the film in a way that has never been done before, choosing to show the reality of Stress Positions in as authentic a way as possible. They filmed a person being put into Stress Positions over a 6 hour period. There is no acting on the part of the “prisoner” – his pain and anguish is for real.

This powerful film shows without doubt that what the US administrations say is interrogation is in reality, torture and must be stopped.
Additionally, there is an interview with the director, and with the "prisoner" about their experiences. In addition to seeing the actual effects of a so-called Stress Position, what is almost as disturbing is what can only be described as the banality of evil in the torturer, juxtaposed with the horror. After the film, you can unsubscribe yourself from giving tacit approval to torture. As of today, over 125,000 people have unsubscribed. Count yourself in, by counting yourself out.

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Anonymous said...

Very good message. I went to Unsubscribe-me.org and signed up and emailed the link to everyone I know. This issue is very important.

mrG said...

not to be difficult or rude, but please do tell me, how is it even possible that a web-form response could unsubscribe me from my cultural, national, consumer and tax-contribution complicity in this torture? Wasn't Henry David Thoreau imprisoned for trying to do precisely that? And today, it is so complex, mutual-funds held by schoolboards, multinational numbered corporations, lobbiests and media appeals to emotions ...

every time I see a "Support our Troops" sticker on a car, I want to write, "Bring them HOME!" on the clean half of the ribbon.

So please do explain: How does a website visit or a mailing list absolve us from our sin?

Mark Federman said...

I appreciate your sentiment, MrG. This is, of course, part of lobbying, demonstrating, and creating a level of noise that the politicians and policy-makers might begin to sense the public sentiment. Avaaz.org is another such organization that elicits support from around the world via web petitions that have apparently resulted in influencing world leaders with respect to critical issues.

It's not that the web petition absolves us from sin - in a civic sense, only becoming truly engaged in the democratic process through productive dialogue and thoughtful (as opposed to strictly self-interested) voting does that. Indeed, every time someone votes for the tax cut without thinking about the social policy implications of a potential government, they are complicit in, and commit civic sin.

Note: I'm not saying that every voter must agree with my views on social and international policies. If you think that Bush's or Harper's initiatives with respect to domestic or international affairs are correct, then by all means vote for them. One should vote thoughtfully, considering the breadth of the potential government's policies and the effects they will have on everyone's lives, not just your individual pocket.