PHR and TASSC International held a briefing at the Capitol entitled “Psychological Torture in Detention” in recognition of Torture Awareness Month. The discussion centered on the use of psychological torture on individuals in detention through practices such as prolonged indefinite detention and abusive solitary confinement.
Is it torture to waterboard a person, slam them against walls, deprive them of sleep, and force them into stress positions until they cry out for mercy? Close your eyes and imagine this is being done to your husband, your sister, or your child; it would seem to be an easy question to answer.Yet today, some are asking whether such “interrogation techniques” are effective. Here’s the answer of Senator John McCain, who was tortured: “under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear — true or false — if he believes it will relieve his suffering.
Donor countries, including the United States, have supported organizations that provide essential humanitarian services to people along Burma’s borders. Border areas have long been neglected by medical and development programs run by the Burmese government, and this international assistance has helped countless people access medical care and food. Some political reforms have increased opportunities for international donors to directly fund civil society groups within Burma.
I believe the vast majority of us became medical professionals for the right reason—we wanted to follow Hippocrates’ admonition “to cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.” As a person deeply committed to human rights, I deplore the violence that grips Syria. I mourn the thousands who have died. as a doctor, I must also specifically address the deliberate attacks waged by government forces on medical professionals and patients.
Earlier this month, PHR reported on the issue of “false positives”; civilians who were kidnapped and executed by Colombian military forces with the intent of identifying them as either members of the FARC guerrilla movement or other illegal armed groups. Specifically, we focused on the case of Mr. Fair Bernal Leonardo Porras, a 26-year old builder who was forcibly disappeared from a rural town in northern Colombia. Since that time, the judicial process has continued to move forward.