Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Giving voice to the powerless

Strong words from Obsidian Wings on the powerless and on those who experience rendition. From the first link:
At some level, I think we read these things and think: well, they can't really mean that.
But by now we know that they mean it enough to have shattered a number
of lives. Right now there are a limited number of people who have
gotten to experience the absolute powerlessness that is the flip side
of the president's assertion of absolute power. I would guess
there are relatively few of them, compared to some other wars in our
history. But they certainly exist; I can rattle a litany of the worst
cases off the top of my head by now. Maher Arar, A'del Abdu al-Hakim, Saddiq Ahmad Turkestani, Sean Baker, Muhammad Saad Iqbal, Sami al-Laithi, Dilawar and Habibullah, Abed Hamed Mowhoush, Manadel al-Jamadi, Benyam Mohamed, the Salt Pit case....This is nowhere, nowhere close to exhaustive. Again, this is only a partial list of the cases that I could name off the top of my head.
Read those links, and think of the stories I could tell after an extra
half hour on Google, let alone a thorough look through the relevant
news stories and government documents. And for every case we know about
there are probably many more that have never been publicly

...As far as I'm concerned, writing some overheated blog comments about
how the administration are fascists and this is the end of American
democracy does NOT cut it. As far as I'm concerned that's actively
counterproductive. If you can't think of anything else you could start
with writing your Congressman. You could also donate to Human Rights
Watch, Amnesty or the ACLU. More than any of those things,
though, I would say: start with learning as much as you can about this
stuff, and telling other people what's going on. It sounds pathetic, in
the face of all this. But speaking from experience, you'd be surprised
how far it can take you.
And, from the second link:
It wasn’t the descriptions of physical torture in Syria that made
it difficult. I have read many, many reports about what goes on in
Egyptian, Syrian, and Uzbek prisons by now. They’re still
horrible of course, but they are no longer even a little surprising,
and so it is easy to fall into a sort of clinical detachment. What I
found much more upsetting were the descriptions of the continuing
psychological effects on Arar. Even reading them felt like a
gross violation of privacy at times. Quoting from them felt
downright exploitative.

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