KARACHI: On the occasion of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Global Aafia Movement has termed torture as a crime under international law and pledged allegiance to the victims of torture.
On December 12, 1997, the UN General Assembly proclaimed June 26 the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Aafia Movement leader Dr Fowzia Siddiqui in her statement issued on June 26 said that while trying to send Pakistan to the Stone Age, the United States regressed to barbarism. She said the Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and FMC Carswell jail are a few examples of notorious torture cells, worse than the savages of medieval times. “There is no justification for torture. Nor is it an effective means of interrogation,” she said.
“Torture seeks to annihilate a victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. The United Nations has condemned torture from the outset as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings,” she added.
Dr Fowzia said even if someone deserved to be tortured, which many who are illegally tortured do not, nobody has the right to deliberately harm another human being with the intention of causing the maximum physical and emotional pain. “That is the most twisted, sadistic, cruel behavior imaginable and it is as inhumane as our rivals. How can certain countries be considered as barbaric when all countries implement torture and tortured prisoners (some coming out to be completely innocent). Water boarding, drowning, sleep deprivation, humiliation, sexual abuse, and burnings and worse mental emotional trauma have occurred there,” she said.
Dr Fowzia said that torture is a crime under international law. According to all relevant instruments, she said, it is absolutely prohibited and cannot be justified under any circumstances. “This prohibition forms part of customary international law, which means that it is binding on every member of the international community, regardless of whether a state has ratified international treaties in which torture is expressly prohibited. The systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity.”
Fowzia Siddiqui said the living proofs of victims of torture are Lynne Irene Stewart and Dr Aafia Siddiqui — one dying of cancer refused compassion with the other humiliated and abused. She said their torturers yet consider themselves as saviours. “Saviours of what? Genocide in Burma, drones in Pakistan? Mass murders in Iraq for WMD? Syria? Libya? All in the name of what?”
Torture is completely immoral and unethical. It is also banned in the US law, making it unconstitutional. The Geneva Conventions ban the use of “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture” (Article 3:1(a)). The emotional and psychological effects of torture can be devastating. August 2003 there were 23 suicide attempts in Guantanamo Bay. These torture techniques that are so cruel and inhumane are often ineffective as a means of gathering information as well.
“As we speak several victims of torture are still on hunger strike and being force fed and Aafia is away from family, and babies are snatched away from mothers. Is there a greater torture for a mother than to separate her from her children?” Dr Fowzia said.
Dr Fowzia Siddiqui, sister of Dr Aafia Siddiqui who is detained in the United States, said it is so sad to see people in the world be convinced that the leaders actually care about them as their heads fill up with ideologies with minimal to no truth in them. “Today we at Global Aafia Movement pledge allegiance to victims of torture. We pray for the bond of humanity to strengthen enough to shatter the inhumane practices, to guide humanity to prevail with love compassion and mercy.”