Realizing the severe impact the use of torture had on their local community, Chicago residents and advocates succeeded this past year in securing a city-wide declaration against the use of torture by law enforcement and military forces.
The action was spurred by the torture of hundreds black men by Chicago police commander Jon Burge and his officers. Additionally, many people wanted to speak out against the US treatment of prisoners abroad at places like Guantanamo, Bagram, and the clandestine CIA black spots.
In January 2012, the Chicago City Council unanimously passed the Chicago anti-torture resolution. The Illinois Coalition Against Torture (ICAT) – a collaboration of individuals and organizations that spearheaded the campaign – recently released a How To Guide for individuals who are interested in launching similar efforts in their own communities.
As individuals like Jose Rodriguez continue to espouse claims on the effectiveness of torture and government officials like John Yoo walk free despite their key role in implementing the use of torture, it is important for communities and individuals to vehemently rebuke such rhetoric.
Torture “is morally corrupting of society as a whole,” said Linda Gustitus, president of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture in a recent op-ed. ”It violates the most fundamental values of a civilized world that each person must be treated as having worth and dignity or we risk the worth and dignity of us all.”
June is Torture Awareness Month. Now is a perfect time to take a stand against torture, whether that be through promoting important federal legislation, by starting an accountability campaign, or both. To ensure the “worth and dignity of us all” we must replace the voices of torture apologists with those who realize the cruel and inhumane practice torture truly is.