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A man was in the kitchen on what promised to be another relaxing night at home. He washed up and plopped on the living room couch next to his wife who wore a smile, perhaps glad to have her husband around after another hectic day at work; a typical scene repeated in households worldwide. In most stories, what follows next is another night’s sleep. Not many end with armed forces bursting through your door and dragging your husband away.
In our post 9/11 world, the word ‘torture’ has been overused up to the point that the shock factor at the mention of its happenings is almost non-existent. ‘Waterboarding’ is now a household term and, just like the Mexican drug wars, the proverbial starving children of Africa and what’s now a disturbingly all too common Middle Eastern civilian deaths, there is an information overload regarding government tortures that we are now numb to it.
Amnesty International’s new video titled Hooded lets us see what it’s like to be tortured. The viewer is given a first person view on the terrifying ordeals of being abducted and having your face covered with a hood, but the worse is yet to come. Coupled with the abductee’s growing sense of disorientation, he became subject to electro-shock and water boarding. The torture is portrayed so powerfully in this video with the intention of depicting the ordeal exactly the way the detainee would see it. Blinded, except for streams of light that penetrates through small holes in the hood, perhaps the only thing worse than the actual torture is not knowing what will happen next.
Amnesty International provided a description to accompany the video stating its purpose:
“Hooded is an exploration of visual and auditory senses to convey the horrific nature of torture. It combines extensive sound design with abstracted visuals to provide a disturbing experience. It is a powerful reminder that torture is barbaric and never justifiable.
This film has been made as part of Amnesty International’s Security with Human Rights campaign, which aims to end abuses of human rights which take place in the context of terrorism, countering terrorism and national security.”
Though many countries have prohibited torture in the past century, what is now labeled ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ has brought the issue back into the public eye, with some nations even practicing it openly. Amnesty International reported that torture is more prevalent in G-20 nations. Torturers are trained and most wouldn’t exist without government backings. The acceptance of using cruel treatment on anyone signifies a serious erosion to fundamental human rights, and though some argue that it’s a necessary tool in the ongoing war against terror, a four-decade study by the US Intelligence Science Board reported torture as being ineffective in obtaining reliable intelligence.
CIA Veteran, Bob Baer, admitted, “To be honest, in those situations (of interrogation) I really had no idea what I was doing.”
In plenty of cases, the victims who are subjected to these interrogation techniques are merely suspects with little to no evidences regarding their involvement in the crimes they were accused of. Such is the case with Maher Arar, a Canadian who was held for a year and tortured in Syria after the US authorities had relied on accurate information to detain him. Although Arar received compensations and a formal apology, no amount of either can compensate for the trauma and emotional scarring suffered by such torture victims.
Torture is the most widespread human rights crime in the world and we find ourselves in yet another situation where we are left to ponder: how can something so horrific be so prevalent? As a civilization that aims to move forward, this is one barbaric act that we can do without because as the video stresses: Nothing justifies this. Nothing makes it right.