Thursday, May 31, 2012


June is Torture Awareness Month. People everywhere are organizing events for June 26 -- International Day in Support of Victims of Torture -- as well as the days leading up to it. A list of events planned in Chicago is shown below.

I will be recognizing Torture Awareness Month by continuing to work to force transparency and accountability with respect to the thousands of detainees who have been left in prisons throughout Afghanistan as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation.

For those who think President Obama has put the Afghanistan "episode" behind us, it is essential to recognize that the United States has created a massive human rights disaster through its detention regime in Afghanistan -- one that dwarfs Guantanamo in comparison -- and we cannot turn our back on it.

Despite efforts by the U.S. to wash its hands of the detention mess in Afghanistan, as the latest post by Jason Ditz at attests, "US Still Runs Afghan Torture Prison: Officials Retain Effective Control Over Detainees in 'Afghan Custody'."

As Tina Foster, founder and Executive Director of the International Justice Network said in today's New York Times article ("Detainees Are Handed Over to Afghans, but Not Out of Americans’ Reach"), “The worst thing is the administrative detention regime the Afghans are adopting is exactly the same as what the U.S. government has been doing for the last 10 years .... The legacy left here by the U.S. is people disappeared into legal black holes.”

In June, make a special effort to #stopTorture ... close #Bagram ... #DEMILITARIZEafghanistan!
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Vigil: Water Tower (Michigan and Chicago) - 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Please JOIN the Facebook event page and invite friends!

Film screening: "Beneath the Blindfold" 5:00 p.m. at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, 25 East Pearson
Beneath the Blindfold interweaves the personal stories of four torture survivors who now reside in the U.S., but originally hail from different parts of the globe: South and Central America, Africa, and the U.S.
Please JOIN the Facebook event page and invite friends!
(Read my review of "Beneath the Blindfold"!)

Morning rush hour vigils at various locations:
(a) 8th Day Center for Justice - weekly Peace Vigil
Where: (note revised location) Jackson & LaSalle
When: 8:00am - 9:00am
Bring a sign or we will bring some as well" (Note: this is a weekly vigil.)
(b) White Rose Catholic Worker
Where: Corner of Hollywood Rd. & Sheridan
When: 8:00am - 9:00am
(c) Su Casa Catholic Worker
57th St. and Lakeshore Drive (east side, bike path)
When: 8:00am - 9:00am
(d) Others - details TBA

PRESS CONFERENCE: Restore Torture Commission Funding! - Join us as we (a) call for the restoration of funding for the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, to assure that its important work can continue; and (b) applaud plans by Governor Quinn to close the Tamms Supermax facility.
Where: State of Illinois Bldg - James R. Thompson Center (Randolph & Clark)
When: 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
JOIN the Facebook event page and invite friends!

GATHERING in Support of Survivors of Torture - organized by representatives of a wide range of local and national organizations
Where: (note revised location) State of Illinois Bldg - James R. Thompson Center (Randolph & Clark)
When: (note revised time) 12:30pm - 1:30pm (immediately following press conference)
JOIN the Facebook event page and invite friends!

EVENING PROGRAM Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center presents:
United Nations Day in Support of Survivors of Torture
Dinner and program 6pm-9pm
Keynote address by Jobi Petersen Cates, Director of the Midwest Region, Human Rights Watch.
McCormick Lounge in Coffey Hall, Loyola University 1032 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago
For more information contact Caroyln Morales, 773-751-4035.

Outing to see My Kind of Town - play about Chicago police torture scandal - details TBA
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Image of Parwan Detention Facility (Bagram, Afghanistan) from Wikipedia.

Related posts

The Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo holds weekly vigils at Dearborn and Jackson in Chicago every Friday at 4:30 p.m. to support the Guantanamo Hunger Strikers and to demand that Guantanamo be shut down. (Learn more about weekly vigils by the Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo.)

It's not enough to just pull U.S. combat troops out of Afghanistan - we need to ground the drones, clear the prisons we've filled with detainees, remove the bases, get rid of the contractors, stop the training activities -- DEMILITARIZE Afghanistan!

(See DEMILITARIZE Afghanistan)

My most prominent memory of my first viewing of the Guantanamo film, The Response, is of one of the stars of the film -- Kate Mulgrew of Star Trek fame -- participating in a panel after the screening. I was blown away when she said, "I did this because our civil liberties in our country have been gravely damaged and we all need to contribute to repairing them."

(See Understanding What Guantanamo Means)