On Tuesday, Nov 13, EMU was visited by the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International. Jamila Witmer, an EMU student interning at TASSC in Washington, D.C., brought survivors to our EMU East Dining Hall to bring awareness of their stories and what is still currently happening in countries around the world. They first showed a video called “Breaking the Silence: Torture Survivors Speak Out.” This video really explained the definition of what torture is. “Torture” can even be torture with words.
One women on the video spoke about how she doesn’t care about her past and what torture she had been through, she cares about the ongoing torture in her country even today.
The survivors in the video described having their hands and feet chained; some were also electrically tortured. The people we heard from were doctors, social workers, and missionaries; one was an A.I.D.S researcher.
The A.I.D.S researcher spoke out about her torture. Security people of a British company took her to a place called the “Nyati House” in Nairobi. Everyone who lived there knew what the place was, but no one spoke about it. In that “house” she was electrically shocked on her feet and was tortured with cold water.
She was scared to speak out against her experience because she thought she would be killed. TASSC helped her through her experiences.
Mexico is another place where there are problems with torture. The video went on to name more places including Guatemala, Ukraine, Czech Republic, South Africa, and many more. There are many people affected by torture; more than we may even know of. TASSC International was founded by survivors of torture. Dr. Orlando, who attended the meeting, is a co-founder of TASSC. He is a torture survivor from the Philippines.
TASSC International is not a treatment place, but they do have many services to help the healing of those who have been tortured. TASSC offers a program called Helping Hands. The members of Helping Hands assist survivors in locating a broad range of pro bono and other services, including legal aid, medical services, mental health service, job training, English classes, transportation, and emergency food and clothing.
There are also gatherings wherever survivors are located called International Communities of Healing. After experiencing something like torture, community self-empowerment is an important part of the healing process.
TASSC also has two other programs grams called Truth Speakers and Campaign Against Torture. Both of these programs spread the word about torture and how TASSC believes that torture is a violation of human rights, an offense to human dignity, and brutalizes the torturer and all persons responsible for it.
There are many countries which torture their citizens. Many countries, including the U.S., send tax money to countries which torture their people. These countries are also killing many, of their people. TASSC believes the tax payer’s money in the U.S. should be spent on human rights, not other countries that support the opposite.
Alicia Calkins, Staff Writer