Torture is Haunting Humanity.
Suspects are being tortured in Turkey as you read this. Torture merely haunts us here in the safety of the Irish state, but it’s a grim reality for our fellow humans in Turkey. Amnesty International claims that detainees from the attempted coup in Turkey are being held against their will and tortured.[i] The rest of the world watched with bated breath as members of the military attempted a coup on the Turkish government not even a fortnight ago. Yet now I look on in horror as those same people, and possibly even ones that had no hand in the coup, are falsely imprisoned and tortured.
While I understand that the Turkish government must show strength to prevent any further coup attempts, I cannot condone torture. It has existed since the dawn of what we call ‘civilisation’ and while it’s widely known to be barbaric, it’s still being enacted by governments on a global scale each year. This is regardless of the United Nations considerations on the matter:
“Having regard to article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which provide that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,”[ii]
Torture is considered inhumane by the United Nations, yet it continues to happen. Hundreds, possibly thousands of Turkish citizens, imprisoned for the right reasons or not, are being tortured. Some for information, some for punishment, some without the courtesy of knowing what they have been accused of. According to Amnesty’s report, the torture doesn’t stop at beatings, it also includes rape.[iii]
I’m saddened by the fact that we live in a time where these horrific acts still occur, and knowing that we are fundamentally capable of these acts weights heavy on my heart. We should not subject another human being to torture regardless of the wrong they are accused of. Especially when there is cross contamination of innocent people and those who could use their positions of authority to commit these disgusting acts. Torture has been found by scholars as ineffective as it often produces either false information or confessions because those being tortured just want the pain to stop.[iv] There is no reason for torture to be used by any governing body and it should not continue.
Humans experience time in a linear sequence, and clearly, we are still in a cruel stage of our civilisation, regardless of how advanced many of us claim to be. Although some believe we may reach a point in humanity in which horrible acts like this will no longer occur, my hope is wearing thin. Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker believes that human history is becoming less violent and violent acts themselves are in decline.[v] Perhaps this true, and this idea was introduced to me during my undergraduate anthropology course. While this may be enough to feed our hope that those of us who consider these violent acts abhorrent may now outnumber those that are still capable of committing these atrocities, does it still justify those that have died by violence at the hand of another human?
I’ve used the word torture numerous times to allow the repugnance of this reality to sink in. Why we still tolerate it confounds my waking moments. I believe that it’s time we put this specter to rest for good, so we may only be haunted by the horrors of the past, rather than allow our fellow humans to suffer in the present.
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One of the articles I have cited is Contanzo and Gerrity’s 2009 work entitled “The Effects and Effectiveness of Using Torture as an Interrogation Device: Using Research to Inform the Policy Debate.” It is worth your time reading it if you are as horrified as I am. Here is a link:
[iv] PDF Page 4. https://www.cgu.edu/pdffiles/sbos/costanzo_effects_of_interrogation.pdf