They deserve it, they shouldn't have bombed our country

Written by Indrani Balaratnam Thursday, 03 January 2013
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I don't even know where to begin with this statement, which I am faced with every day, if not explicitly then through the faces of those who pause to raise an eyebrow when I tell them that I write for the rights of those affected by the War on Terror. This is then quickly covered up with a smile and dismissal of - "Oh that sounds really interesting... Anyway..."

What has become of civilisation? 'They' bombed us, so this gives us the right to bomb them, killing thousands more than were hit on 9/11 and 7/7 combined? Who is this 'they'? The Muslims? The Asians? 

No, of course not. 'They' refers to the terrorists and only the terrorists. Because when we drop bombs from drones in Iraq and Afghanistan, we miraculously miss the innocents and only hit the bad guys - the figures of the amount of children who have died in the War of Terror are obviously just not true. Because Guantanamo Bay consists solely of these evil terrorists. Because the American justice system is so transparent, so flawless that those held in captivity could only be the ones directly involved in those attacks. Yet regularly, stories are released about the situation of the 87 detainees who are being held there without charge, without trial, and cleared for release and yet remain held. They pose no threat, they had no terrorist involvement - these are not fictional stories, the facts are there. Shaker Aamer is not just a figment of our imagination…and no Aunty…he is not being kept for "some other reason that the government can't tell us about because he is too dangerous" - when will this naivity end? When will we open our eyes to the suffering of the innocents affected by the War on Terror? 

And even the guilty. Even those who did it, those who have admitted being responsible for 9/11 - perhaps some feel they deserve the death penalty for their actions. Fine. We could debate the death penalty for decades and not see eye to eye. But try them on the facts, not the forced and false testimony obtained through torture. 

"They deserve to be tortured" - I often wonder if people who believe this even know what torture is. Torture is not having your screaming children run around driving you insane after a hard day at work. It is not having to put up with your wife's poor taste in television shows every night. 

Torture is the slow dislocation of a man's shoulders as he is hung by his shackled wrists for hours on end with no food or water. Torture is forcing an individual into a stress position while naked, blasting periods of unbearably loud music at them until they give information. I don't know about you, but in those circumstances I would say absolutely anything and everything to end my suffering, even if it is not true.

Torture is illegal under international law. It is what separates us from being human and being animals. The torturous methods of a government defines the civilised status of that government. It is easy to live in ignorance and sometimes I envy such people - what it must be like not to even be aware of the atrocities. I don't condemn such people - someone once told me she tells the unaware to "kindly grow a brain." No. They just don't know and there was a time I did not know either. But then there are those who are aware and encourage it. I do not judge a government by its free health care, by its economic reforms or by its public political ideologies. I judge a government by what it is actively involved in behind closed doors. And I judge you by your condoning of those actions.

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