Saturday, March 25, 2006

"Surviving to tell the tale of torture"

Olga Talamant in the LA Times

"THE BURLAP BAG felt rough and scratchy against my cheek, but it also smelled earthy and deceptively comforting. Thick tape already covered my eyes, so the bag's only purpose was to frighten me. And it worked. I knew I had entered another dimension.

A day earlier I had been a not-too-unusual 24-year-old American student from UC Santa Cruz, working with the Peronist Youth organization for social change in Azul, Argentina. For the next 16 months, I would become one of thousands of political prisoners and torture victims taken into custody as Argentina first declared martial law and then later suffered a right-wing military coup. But I was one of the lucky ones — a survivor, thanks to family and friends in the United States who won my release on March 27, 1976.

When I returned home to California and testified about the torture, my stories horrified listeners. But we could feel safe here because torture was the province of brutal, unsophisticated despots. It was a time when the average American could not imagine our soldiers abroad participating in anything remotely similar. Now, three years into the Iraq war, we have seen the images of Abu Ghraib and read accounts of the atrocities at Baghdad's Camp Nama.

Americans once shocked by my experience now hear officials defend torture as a necessary evil in the war against terrorism. But it is only evil. read more


At 2:35 AM, Blogger belledame222 said...

Wretchedly true as that is, I feel ever-so-faintly encouraged that this piece is in the L.A. Times at all (wasn't expecting that to be the link). Yeah, weak, considering the context; but...

and yeah. our "dirty war." that's just exactly right.

not our first, either, of course. but then we've collectively always had a short attention span...

just from a writerly perspective for a moment (it's hard for me to focus on the main content, I realize this): the line about the burlap bag being oddly comforting really got to me somehow.

At 12:31 AM, Blogger Ragnell said...

I finished reading that five minutes ago and I'm still unsettled by it.

At 12:17 PM, Blogger nubian said...

i was in chicago a week ago and a smiliar rally was taking place throught downtown chicago. there had to have been thousands upon thousands of people walking, holding signs and hands, and chanting through the skyscrapers.

of course the media gave ti little attention and claimed the number of people to be far less than who actually showed up.

At 12:17 PM, Blogger nubian said...

um, that was meant for the next posting.


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