Posts Tagged Mexico

The power of collective memory to heal

The concept of collective memory can be used to provide psychosocial support to victims of torture, as well as reminding society of past atrocities. Professor Carlos Beristain, who is a physician, specialist in health education and doctor in psychology, believes collective memory can help survivors make sense of the trauma they have experienced.

carlos-berestain

Professor Carlos Beristain

“The memory of what happened hurts, because it brings torture victims’ experience into the present day. Yet it also demands that the victim regain their dignity. The key is the psychosocial support. For victims of torture and other human rights violations, memory can help create a social framework for recognising their experiences, which they often have to keep inside or hide in silence. Memory also contributes to insuring the same trauma never happens again.”

This is how Professor Beristain explains the power of victims’ memory when it comes to healing. Having worked with victims since 1988, he has seen first-hand how collective memory can help torture victims understand their experiences better.

Beristain started out by focusing on the diagnosis of injuries caused by torture and the analysis of medical reports of cases in the Basque Country and in other countries. “In 1989 I went to El Salvador to train lawyers, doctors, psychologists and social workers on the documentation of cases, medical aspects of psychosocial care for victims and strengthening the community against the risk of arrest and torture, since this was a systematic practice during the war,” he explains.

He knows only too well the consequences of torture and how it can affect entire communities. “In 1990 I went to Guatemala for the first time because other human rights organisations were interested in my work, even though there were no survivors in Guatemala because few political prisoners survived. Providing support to the relatives of disappeared persons and those killed in the massacres were the most important issues at the time. In Guatemala we learned about other forms of torture, such as acts of torture against the general public during the massacres and survivors who witnessed these acts, as well as the enormous impact of terror on Mayan communities.”

These experiences have reinforced his believe in the importance of collective memory. “It can especially help in expressing their experiences in a positive sense. Because it is not only the pain and what happened that is important, it is also their resistance to it and their fighting spirit.

“Many victims see their experiences reflected in the more global work of collective memory, reaffirming themselves as a person and letting go of the negative image they have of themselves that creates a stigma where they or others feel they deserved to be tortured.”

Beristain was part of the Interdisciplinary Group created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2015 that investigated the case of the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa in Guerrero. A high profile case that attracted press attention from across the globe. He explains that, “Our work consisted of accompanying the victims, investigating the case and what happened the students, restoring a dialogue with the state and supporting them in analysing the reports and allegations about torture.”

Professor Beristain has been working with the relatives of disappeared persons in Mexico for several years. “Some of them have survived kidnapping, and all of them suffered from the impact of the torture of forced disappearances and the lack of a state response to these atrocities. During workshops we ran we made space to share, to cry and to try to understand what had happened, despite the pain of many participants,” he says.

“Through our work and support, many relatives have gone on to lead organisations, to have direct contact with the authorities, to review records or to take action, even in situations of repression or intimidation. The psychosocial support my colleagues and I have provided has played an important role in the development of these processes and organisations.”

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Professor Beristain will speak about survivor participation in research and treatment planning at the upcoming IRCT International Scientific Symposium, which takes place in Mexico from 4 to 7 December. It is closely connected with collective memory and a topic that he feels strongly about. “Survivors should be involved from the start. Firstly, because torture victims are in a process of regaining the control of their lives on their own terms and their ability to make decisions and take an active role is fundamental. Secondly, because of their experiences. Although their memories might be fragmented or limited, they can provide the group with a more positive perspective and act as an example for others,” he says.

During a workshop with women survivors in Columbia, one of the survivors, who is also the leader of a women’s organisation, said, “It’s the first time in ten years that I stopped feeling guilty.” This was as a result of speaking with others in the group. We know that guilt can fill the space where the person tries to make sense of what happened and this guilt has a way of trying to take control of the situation, as well as having an enormous psychological impact on the person.”

While much progress is being made in the sector, Professor Beristain says more is needed to, “Help survivors face the consequences of their experiences, while reinforcing social ties and strengthening the social fabric of communities. In other words, it is not only a question of reducing suffering, but also contributing to the fight by tackling its causes. It is important to support victims and strengthen their psychological state and ability to integrate in society, as well as helping them to take their case to court and strengthen their ties with other victims so they can play an active role and not be the passive victim.”

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Torture at the hands of the state: What happened to Yecenia?

Eight months ago, the future was finally starting to look bright for Yecenia Armenta Graciano. After spending more than two years in prison in the state of Sinaloa, having been accused of ordering her husband’s murder, a judge had ruled that Yecenia’s confession had been obtained through torture and therefore could not be used as evidence in the case. Her supporters saw the ruling as a victory for justice and hoped it would lead to her release. Yet Yecenia remains in prison today.

The picture Yecenia paints of her experience in July 2012 is one of torture, rape and threats. She alleges that plainclothes police officers arrested her not long after the murder of her husband, and tortured her for 15 hours.

During that time she says she was raped, tortured and threatened before she confessed to ordering her husband’s murder. Blindfolded, she signed the confession form. No one questioned or checked her injuries and marks of torture and she was imprisoned. As time went on, her visible injuries faded and eventually disappeared.

Various human rights groups have criticised the local authorities for dismissing Yecenia’s allegations and for protecting the perpetrators.

The criticism only grew louder when the Office of the Mexican Attorney-General conducted a medical and psychological examination of Yecenia concluding that there was no evidence of physical torture or mistreatment related to her allegations, and her psychological symptoms were not related to the allegations.

Then in early 2015, after carrying out examinations in accordance with the international standards set out in the Istanbul Protocol, two experts from the Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG) supported Yecenia’s claim that she had been tortured.

Based on these findings, the court ordered the State Attorney to further investigate the case and punish the perpetrators. To many, this was a sign that Yecenia would soon be free, but she is still behind bars, having spent more than three years away from her children.

Yecenia Armenta Graciano (Photo: Amnesty International).

Yecenia Armenta Graciano (Photo: Amnesty International).

In an Amnesty International Campaign demanding her immediate release, she wrote: “I’ve seen summers come and fade, people arrive at and then leave this place, and all the time my children are growing up, outside these walls. Three years of change and movement: but still I remain here. At times I must admit I’ve felt very tired, and defeated”.

Sadly, Yecenia’s story is not an isolated case. In May 2014, 11 female survivors of sexual torture launched the campaign “Breaking the Silence: together against sexual torture”, aiming to raise awareness of other cases of sexually tortured women. The women had been sexually tortured by a number of state forces, including the armed forces, the navy and the police, with many of them tortured into making false confessions for various crimes.

Human rights groups say that torture is rife in Mexico and is routinely used by the security forces to extract confessions or information. According to the “Breaking the Silence: together against sexual torture” campaign, Mexican women in particular are faced with a systematic pattern of sexual torture by state institutions that fail to provide the protection society expects of them.

Recently there have been some signs of action by the Mexican authorities to eradicate torture and combat impunity, but the number of convictions in cases of torture is low.

In the meantime, Yecenia is sitting in a prison cell in Northern Mexico, hoping that she will soon be reunited with her children. Her case is no longer with the State court of Sinaloa, but has been moved to the Supreme Court of Justice, where it is pending hearing.

After everything she has been through, human rights defenders remain hopeful that Mexico’s highest court will finally grant Yecenia her freedom.

In Yecenia’s own words: “Freedom is vital for any human being. Freedom helps us breathe, it helps us live fully. I also want to be free, free to be myself, just the way I am.”

To find out more or to sign Amnesty International’s petition to free Yecenia Armenta Graciano click here.

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Voices from our members: Mexican human rights defenders reports to UN Committee

Editor’s Note: The following is a blog post submission from our member centre in Mexico, Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad (CCTI) (in English, the Collective Against Torture and Impunity). In the beginning of November, Mexico faced a review of their compliance with the UN Convention against Torture. During this process, CCTI with the IRCT and other Mexican and international organisations in providing their own reports on the situation of torture in Mexico. Here is a blog on their own experience in this process.  Abajo, en español

The UN Committee against Torture heard from IRCT Mexican member CCTI on serious issues hampering the struggle against impunity for torturers and justice for the victims.

On 31 October and 1 November, the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) examined the Mexican state. This revision happened just before the departure of the current President Felipe Calderón, during whose administration it was reported a dramatic increase of human rights violations, including torture, forced disappearances as well as attacks against human rights defenders and journalists.

The Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad (CCTI) participated in the elaboration of an alternative report about the situation of torture in Mexico and submitted another report, together with the IRCT, about the implementation of the Istanbul Protocol [PDF]. In both reports, the importance of the effectiveness and independence of torture investigations, including medico-psychological documentation, was underlined. The fight against impunity represents a fundamental aspect in the prevention of torture. However, Mexico is characterised by the total impunity for perpetrators, leaving the victims in a situation of double vulnerability.

In the examination, the CAT members questioned the state about the lack of investigation and sanctions against the offenders. Additionally, they highlighted the issues of arraigo detention, military law, the Istanbul Protocol and the situation of human rights defenders, migrants and women.

As expected, the state denied the inefficacy of its actions, offered partial and incomplete information and avoided several questions. The state presented itself as a promoter of human rights and justified arraigo detention, the opening of more high security prisons and the involvement of the military in public security matters.

The human rights organisations at the examination had the opportunity to meet with the Committee and raise their concerns. They were heard and their recommendations were taken in consideration in what concerns questioning the report by the Mexican state. CCTI, as well the other organisations present at the examination, hope that the recommendations by the Committee are compelling and detailed and help the work of exposing and fighting torture in Mexico.

 

 

Los días 31 de octubre y 1 de noviembre el Estado mexicano fue examinado ante el Comité Contra la Tortura (CAT) de la ONU. Esta revisión se dio poco antes de la salida del actual presidente Felipe Calderón en cuya administración se ha reportado un aumento dramático de violaciones a los Derechos Humanos, incluyendo la tortura, la desaparición forzada y agresiones contra defensores y periodistas.

EL Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad (CCTI) participó en la elaboración de un informe alternativo acerca de la situación de tortura en México y entregó otro informe sobre la implementación del Protocolo de Estambul conjuntamente con el IRCT [PDF]. En ambos se destaca la importancia de la eficacia e independencia de las investigaciones por tortura, incluyendo la documentación médico-psicológica. La lucha contra la impunidad  representa un aspecto fundamental en la prevención de la tortura. México se caracteriza por la total impunidad para los perpetradores, lo que deja a las víctimas en una situación de doble vulnerabilidad.

En la revisión los miembros del CAT cuestionaron al estado acerca de la falta de investigaciones y sanciones en contra de los agresores. Además destacaron los temas de arraigo, el fuero militar, el Protocolo de Estambul, la situación de los defensores, migrantes y mujeres.

Como era de esperar, el estado negó la ineficacia de sus acciones, proporcionó información parcial e incompleta o evitó contestar varias preguntas. Se presentó como promotor de derechos humanos, sin embargo justificó la figura del arraigo, la creación de más cárceles de alta seguridad y la participación de militares en tareas de seguridad pública.

Las organizaciones de derechos humanos que asistieron a la revisión tuvieron la posibilidad de reunirse con el CAT y plantear sus preocupaciones. Fueron escuchados y sus recomendaciones fueron tomados en cuenta al cuestionar el informe del estado mexicano. El CCTI así como las demás organizaciones esperamos que las recomendaciones del CAT sean contundentes, precisas y ayuden en su labor de denunciar y combatir la tortura en México.

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Voices from Latin America – on risks and security in the fight against torture

Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a two-part blog post on the Latin American regional seminar and the issues of security for the human rights defenders there.

With a trembling but determined voice a representative from IRCT Honduran member centre CPTRT spoke about the challenges of providing psychosocial care to rehabilitate torture survivors in high-risk contexts. She has been threatened because of the work she does; so have her colleagues. And she is worried about the safety of her family. She is a human rights defender at risk in the fight against torture.

She is not alone. The security situation for many Latin American human rights defenders is critical. Several IRCT member centres in the region report a deterioration with regards to security issues including threats in connection with their work for the prevention of torture and rehabilitation of its victims. All of which serves to remind us of the importance of applying pressure to states to uphold the principles and rights contained in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Carrying out psychosocial work in high-risk contexts was a major focus for the 28 professionals gathered in the last week of September in Mexico City. The participants represented 15 Latin American rehabilitation centres in 11 countries who came together to exchange knowledge and learn from one another.

Day one began with a quick round of updates from each centre in which set-backs and developments were shared. The IRCT Bolivian member-centre, ITEI, explained that they, for the first time, are receiving threats as a result of their work with torture cases. CCTI of Mexico explained that while “war against delinquency and drugs” has increased significantly the number of torture cases over the past five or six yearsit has become increasingly difficult to access torture survivors in places of detention due to restrictions from the authorities. Red de Apoyo of Venezuela reported that their government had denounced the American Convention on Human Rights, pulling out of the Inter-American system of human rights. CPTRT from Honduras and ATHYA from Paraguay explained how recent coups have led to instability and a subsequent fragility in security that poses significant challenges to their work. Later that day, during a coffee break, I was pulled aside by two colleagues who have not been responding to emails lately. They were concerned for their safety, they explained. State authorities had previously intercepted their emails, and information on recent developments in the country had been too sensitive to risk sending by email.

A significant number of representatives at the seminar stressed that growing violence and torture in many countries in the region was a result of the increasing criminalisation of social protest. Such protest is often directed towards multinational companies or infrastructure projects that threaten the livelihoods, environment and lands of the communities in which they operate. For example:

Other protests result from a general lack of food, work, clean water and other basic needs. Justified by the criminalisation of social protest, the response by some authorities is to use violence and torture to repress the protests.

It seems that Latin America is experiencing a period of re-militarisation and torture seems to be practiced increasingly as a means of maintaining social control and economic hierarchy, thus putting heavy pressure on human rights defenders and the enjoyment of human rights.

Editor’s Note: Please return to worldwithouttorture.org for the second part of Voices from Latin America.

Line is a Project Coordinator, focusing on the Latin American partners and the NSA projectThe regional seminar was funded by the European Commission.

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News roundup

News roundup for the week includes: stories on solitary confinement in the US; Palestinian children in Israel detention; new Supreme Court decision in Mexico may stomp out impunity; Argentina’s torture problem. 

Human Rights Watch estimates that, on any given day, there are 80,000 US prisoners in solitary confinement; many who have been subjected to this form of torture for years, even decades in some cases. Photo by x1klima on Flickr; available through Creative Commons License.

United States:
An editorial at Al Jazeera notes
that media and perhaps legislative consensus is growing around the issue of long-term solitary confinement as torture. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez has previously stated that solitary confinement longer than 15 days can constitute torture. Some prisoners in the US detention system have been in some form or another of solitary confinement for as long as 40 years. The editorial also indicates that this form of punishment and cruel treatment may be more often applied to black prisoners, such as the infamous Angola 3.

Occupied Palestinian Territory:
Defence for Children International, an international children’s rights NGO, has released a staggering report on abuse of Palestinian children in Israeli detention. “The first 48 hours after a child is taken are the most important because that’s when the most abuse happens,” DCI’s lawyer Gerard Horten told Al Jazeera in an interview, echoing the findings of an upcoming IRCT report on children and torture in the Philippines, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Most children are detained for allegations involving throwing stones at Israeli troops. Some are as young as 12, and can be detained for months without access to a lawyer or their parents. A majority of those detained faced verbal threats or harassment, physical abuse, interrogation by officials, and were blindfolded and restrained. Read the full report here [PDF].

Mexico:
Human rights group in Mexico have celebrated a recent Supreme Court ruling that military human rights violations may be turned over to civilian, rather than military, courts. “The Supreme Court ruled Thursday to send the case of Jethro Ramses Sanchez, a 27-year-old auto mechanic who authorities say was tortured and killed by soldiers at a military base last year, to civilian court,” reports The Washington Post. Human rights groups say this ruling may be a blow to the consistent impunity for military human rights violations in Mexico.

Argentina:
Several
torture cases in Argentina have been widely reported in the media recently. And just this week, a report emerged that there have been as many as 7,000 human rights violations in Argentine prisons. Some point to the lack of reform in the prison system since the military junta that ended in the 1980s and that was marked by several thousand extra-judicial killings and torture, the so-called ‘dirty war’. Read about a visit to many of the sites of the ‘dirty war’ by IRCT’s Brita Sydhoff here.

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Rehabilitation centers help victims become survivors: Germán in Mexico City

Véase a continuación la versión en español

Nota del editor: Queremos dar las gracias al Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad A.C. (CCTI) para este blog

Editor’s Note: Rehabilitation works and is a torture survivor’s right: this is the theme of this year’s 26 June campaign for the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. During the next two weeks, we shall be posting testimonies, stories and experiences from torture survivors themselves. Their testimonies explain clearly – rehabilitation works and is a torture survivor’s right.

 

 

Germán  (Mexico City)

My name is Germán Heredia Rebollar, I am 28 years old, I suffered torture at the hands of public servants, police investigators.  On 7 June 2011 I was detained arbitrarily by the police.  They did not identify themselves, they did not tell me why I was being detained, nor did they read me my rights.  Without a word, but using excessive force, they put me in a truck where I suffered all types of physical and psychological abuse. It felt like they wanted to split my head open with their blows and their attempts to asphyxiate me and make me admit to doing things in my life.  They told me to accept the blame and then everything would be easy, they tried to get into my head and confuse me.  They wanted to kill me!

Thank God I survived, but I am not the same.  I was unable to sleep, now and again I would hear their words which filled me with horror, and I was reminded of how they talked about my family.  When eventually I could sleep, I would wake up sweating.  My hair fell out and I was scared of anyone who represented the authorities, as they reminded me of the male prison guards where I was unjustly detained.

I didn’t think I would survive but I have managed to, up until now, thanks to God and to the fact that my family went to the Collective against Torture and Impunity.  The Collective has given me and my family psychological support.

At first I thought that the Collective wouldn’t be able to help me much but now I realise just how much help they have given me.  They have taught me and advised me and this has helped me enormously to rebuild a part of my life, above all allowing me to overcome the memories of the torture that prevented me from sleeping.  The support has also allowed me to lead a more peaceful life and more importantly it has shown me how to be strong for my family, to not feel guilty for their suffering.  It has helped me to realise that neither I nor my family are to blame for what I have been through.

Thanks to this Collective I can say that I am a torture survivor.  It is important that these kinds of organisations exist to be able to erase the marks and the pain caused by torture, to be able to move forward, to be able to live a normal life, to make us realise that there are institutions which are free from corruption.

 

 

Germán  (Distrito Federal)

Mi nombre es Germán Heredia Rebollar, tengo 28 años, fui víctima de tortura por parte de servidores públicos, policías de investigación. El día 7 de junio del 2011 fui detenido arbitrariamente por dichos policías, no se identificaron, no me dijeron el motivo de mi detención y mucho menos me dijeron o leyeron mis derechos, sin mediar palabra y con exceso de violencia, me subieron a una camioneta tipo van, en donde sufrí toda clase de golpes físicos y psicológicos, sentí que querían abrir mi mente a base de golpes y de asfixia y que querían poner en ella actos que en mi vida había hecho, me decían que aceptara culparme y todo sería mássencillo, querían meterse en mi mente y confundirme ¡Querían matarme!

Gracias a Dios sobreviví, pero no era el mismo, no podía dormir, en mis oídos escuchaba un ay otra vez sus palabras esas palabras que dolían horrores, esas palabras donde mencionaban a mi familia y cuando por fin podía dormir despertaba exaltado, sudando, se me caía el cabello y sobre todo tenía miedo de toda persona que representara una autoridad, como los custodios del reclusorio preventivo varonil oriente donde me encuentro injustamente recluido.

Pensaba que no iba a sobrevivir pero gracias a Dios y a que mi familia se acerco al Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad lo he logrado hasta el día de hoy, este colectivo nos ha brindado atención psicológica a mi familia y a mí.

Al principio pensé que no me podían ayudar que mucho pero el día de hoy me doy cuenta que su ayuda ha sido muy grande, me han enseñado y aconsejado y esto me ha servido de mucho para recuperar parte de mi vida, sobre todo para superar esa parte de la tortura que no me dejaba dormir, también me ha ayudado a tener una vida más tranquila en el lugar donde me encuentro y lo más importante me han enseñado a estar lo mejor posible con mi familia, a no sentirme culpable por su sufrimiento, darme cuenta que lo que me está pasando no es culpa mía ni de mi familia

Gracias a este colectivo puedo decir que soy un sobreviviente de la tortura. Por eso es importante que existan este tipo de instituciones para poder borrar las huellas y el dolor causados por la tortura para poder salir adelante, para poder llevar una vida normal, para darnos cuenta que existen instituciones insobornables.

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‘Although they broke me down, they could not take away my yearning for freedom’

Véase a continuación la versión en español

Nota del editor: Queremos dar las gracias al Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad A.C. (CCTI) para este blog

Editor’s Note: Rehabilitation works and is a torture survivor’s right: this is the theme of this year’s 26 June campaign for the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. During the next two weeks, we shall be posting testimonies, stories and experiences from torture survivors themselves. Their testimonies explain clearly – rehabilitation works and is a torture survivor’s right.

 

 

Italia (Atenco, México)

Six years ago, on 4 May 2006, I was arrested and tortured physically and sexually by agents working for the State and Federal Police in San Salvador, Atenco, Mexico.  This left a brutal mark on my life. I recognized the horror that engulfed me with feelings of fear and depression.  I felt violated and I was unable to find a reason for what had happened to me.  I could understand the feelings of repression conceptually, but I was unable to control my emotions and the physical effects suffered as a result of the torture.

The sexual nature of the torture which I suffered aggravated in many respects my status as a victim – the stigma was something that affected me deeply.  It filled me with indignation and anger that as victims we were referred to in the media as “The rape victims of Atenco” and that the authorities called us “Liars”.  I remember that my capacity to make decisions was completely lost, to distinguish between things I should or shouldn’t do – it made me feel that I wasn’t doing enough, or the right thing.  It made no difference the nature of the decision, guilt washed over me.

Now, after six years of intensive work to recover from the torture, I can say that I feel better.  Inevitably I will never be the same woman as before, however, I have managed to regain my ability to make decisions, I am more in control of my emotions and I am capable of dealing with fear, without it paralyzing me.

In my experience, there have been two fundamental axes that have helped me to continue with my life.  On the one hand, at the individual level, having a safe and secure place for psychotherapy, which allowed me to unravel the traumatic events and make significant progress in relation to identifying the damage to my body and mind in order to rebuild myself.  On the other hand, at the collective level, having a space in which my testimony is heard attentively, and with empathy, not only in order to publicly denounce the repressive acts I suffered, but also as a space in which I can let go of the stigma attached and reaffirm my status as a woman activist and continue to be politically involved.

Fortunately, the biggest achievement I have accomplished is to overcome the hopelessness.  I survived the torture; although they broke me down, they could not take away my yearning for freedom.  This world is not the horrible place that those perpetrators showed me.

 

 

Italia (Atenco, Estado de México)

Hace 6 años, el 4 de mayo de 2006, fui arrestada y torturada física y sexualmente por agentes de la policía Estatal y Federal en San Salvador Atenco, Estado de México. Este hecho marcó mi vida de forma brutal, conocí el horror que me sumió en miedo y desesperanza, me encontraba quebrantada y no lograba significar lo que me había ocurrido. Entendía la represión conceptualmente, pero no conseguía controlar mis emociones y los efectos físicos derivados de la tortura.

La connotación sexual de la tortura de la que fui objeto agravaba en muchos sentidos mi condición de víctima, el estigma fue un hecho que me afectó gravemente, me llenaba de indignación y rabia que se refirieran a mi y mis compañeras en medios de comunicación como “Las violadas de Atenco” o que en las declaraciones de las autoridades nos dijeran “Mentirosas”.

Recuerdo que mi capacidad para tomar decisiones se encontraba totalmente comprometida, discernir entre hacer o no cualquier cosa, implicaba sentir que no estaba haciendo lo correcto o suficiente, no importaba la índole de la decisión, la culpa me invadía.

Ahora, tras 6 años de trabajo intenso por recuperarme de la tortura, puedo decir que me encuentro mejor, que irremediablemente no puedo ser la misma mujer que era antes, sin embargo he logrado recuperar mi capacidad de tomar decisiones, estoy más en control de mis emociones y soy capaz de lidiar con el miedo, sin que me paralice.

En mi experiencia han sido dos ejes fundamentales los que me han ayudado a continuar con mi vida, por una lado en el ámbito individual contar con un espacio de psicoterapia seguro y de confianza, en el que he conseguido desentrañar el hecho traumático y conseguir avances sustanciales respecto a identificar las afectaciones que hubo en mi cuerpo y mente para reconstruirme. Por otro lado, en el ámbito colectivo generar espacios donde mi testimonio se escucha con atención y empatía no solamente con el único fin de realizar una denuncia pública de la represión, sino como un espacio en donde puedo deshacerme del estigma y reafirmarme como mujer militante y continuar con mi participación política.

Por fortuna el mayor logro que he conseguido es abatir la desesperanza, sobreviví a la tortura, aunque me rompieron no pudieron arrebatarme el anhelo de libertad, este mundo no es el lugar horrible que ellos los perpetradores me mostraron.

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Human rights organisations condemns repressive and deadly action by Mexican police

From our website:

The IRCT condemns the repressive action by the Mexican police following the recent student demonstrations in southern Guerrero. The action by the police resulted in the death of Alexis Herrera Jorge Pino and Gabriel Echeverria, several severe injuries and numerous detentions.

IRCT member organisation CCTI and other human rights organisationscall on the Mexican authorities to respect the integrity of the students present at the scene, and all those who were arrested, whether students, journalists or others present, for the immediate release of all persons arrested for these acts, and for a prompt and impartial investigation about the circumstances and those responsible for the death of the two students.

An urgent action statement signed by multiple human rights organisations, including our member centre CCTI (Collective against Torture and Impunity) in Mexico is available here (PDF en español)

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Friday News Clippings

We have mostly been focused on our own news this week, as we announced earlier today – our Declaration on Poverty and Torture we hope will change the way states and international bodies look at this problem. Also in the news this week:

Manfred Nowak, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the IRCT Patron, was interviewed by the Pakistan Daily Times in a Q&A session. We suggest reading the whole interview, but here are some highlights:

So, I think, torture is practiced in more than 90% of all countries in all regions of the world; big or small, dictatorship or democracy. I would say that in more than half the countries of the world, torture is widespread, or even systematic. And that is a very, very negative and disturbing conclusion. 

President Bush and his administration have paid the world a very, very negative service by undermining the absolute prohibition of torture. I spoke to very high level officials in other countries and they say that if America is torturing openly, why shouldn’t we?

It’s the same with death penalty, there are always people who argue that death penalty has a deterrent effect, no, it’s the opposite, and it has a brutalising effect.

Human Rights Watch chronicles widespread abuses and torture from the military and police officers in the drug war. Their conclusion?

…Found evidence that strongly suggests the participation of security forces in more than 170 cases of torture, 39 “disappearances,” and 24 extrajudicial killings since Calderón took office in December 2006.

The UN Committee against Torture hears reports from Sri Lanka (which was particularly damning), Germany, Bulgaria, and Madagascar

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