Torture: Asian And Global Perspectives
A bi-monthly magazine on the issue of torture. Torture is often used by authoritarian regimes as a means of maintaining control and suppressing dissent. Our policy is against any form of torture and creates a common platform to everyone in Asia and around the globe, to come forward to speak out against torture.
In releasing our first issue, Torture: Asian And Global Perspectives, we, the editing staff, wish to convey our happiness and excitement at getting our message out to readers. We are only too well aware that subjects covered in this magazine aren’t quite conducive to feelings of happiness. It can be depressing to talk about human rights abuses. But, the real emotion we would like to share with our readers in releasing this magazine is neither that of extreme joy or of despair. We wish to bear witness. And, through this act, we wish to share a hope – a hope that victims of human rights abuses in Asia are not alone or forgotten – a hope that liberty will thrive and expand as citizens of Asian countries declaim louder and louder that these acts are no longer acceptable.
The way to a free and prosperous society, though, is not just through spontaneous revolution, but rather through gradual evolution of public opinion and values, and this can only come from education and dissemination of knowledge. To this end, our magazine will seek to address, in great detail, the social, medical, physiological, philosophical, political, and legal aspects of torture, which is endemic throughout Asia and the world, despite a litany of laws against it.
The rise of torture in countries thought to be democratic is a newer development, emerging in post-modern societies. It especially gained prominence after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Darius Rejali, professor at Reed College in the U.S.A and distinguished expert on torture, has identified modern techniques of torture in his in-famous work, “Torture and Democracy.” Rejali traced the migration of “clean torture” techniques – defined as physical torture that leaves no evidence on the victims’ bodies – from western democracies to authoritarian regimes since the 1970s. He writes, “Public monitoring leads institutions that favor painful coercion to use and combine clean torture techniques to evade detection, and, to the extent that public monitoring is not only greater in democracies, but that public monitoring of human rights is a core value in modern democracies, it is the case that where we find democracies torturing today we will also be more likely to find stealthy torture” (p. 8).
Torture is often used by authoritarian regimes as a means of maintaining control and suppressing dissent. One of the reasons torture is less prevalent in some places than in others is because some countries have an open and free political process that protects the political opposition and creates checks and balances to the power of any one group. While torture is often used to prevent such limitations to authoritarian power from being established, there are many examples throughout history of societies forcing political reform despite the best efforts of whoever may be in charge. This is the challenge and the hope for most countries in Asia today.
The idea of publishing a bi-monthly magazine on torture was borne from these circumstances, to give prominent coverage to this monstrous tactic. Our policy is against any form of torture and we seek to create a common platform for everyone in Asia and around the globe to come forward to speak out against torture.
No one can judge a person to be a criminal without law to convict them of a crime. As Cesare Beccaria pointed out, “No man can be judged a criminal until he be found guilty; nor can society take from him the public protection until it have been proved that he has violated the conditions on which it was granted.” Furthermore, according to Beccaria, “If guilty, he should only suffer the punishment ordained by the laws, and torture becomes useless, as his confession is unnecessary, if he be not guilty, you torture the innocent; for, in the eye of the law, every man is innocent whose crime has not been proved.” Armed with the irresistible logic of Beccaria, we commence our venture.
‘Torture: Asian Perspectives’ will be launched on June 26, 2012, i.e. on the United Nations’ International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The bi-monthly magazine will cover 3 categories of torture: individual narratives of torture victims throughout Asia, interviews with people whose work is related to torture, & essays covering different perspectives about torture.
We would like to invite our readers to participate in this campaign against torture. The citizens of each country hope (and should demand) that their governments remain encouraged by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other conventions, to take gradual action, not only at the legislative level, but beyond that to implement basic principles of respecting the rule of law, so that complaints can be systematically investigated, and culprits properly prosecuted, regardless of whether the crimes were committed by state agencies or non-state actors.
If you would like submit an article, essay, or narrative, you can make your voice heard by emailing it or sending it to us by post. All submitted articles will be evaluated according to six categories: purpose & audience, authority, accuracy & reliability, objectivity, currency, and coverage. Do not forget to submit your correspondence address and other contact information along with your written submissions for future correspondence with our editorial team.
Our primary intention is to spread opposition to torture and improve discourse between anti-torture advocacy groups. The magazine will be circulated among groups involved in this subject and beyond. We’d be happy if you subscribed to the print magazine so we may have as broad a readership as possible, both in Asia and around the world. We need your help to circulate what we know to be such an important word, hope. With your help, we will fulfill our mission of spreading information to as many people as possible and galvanize advocacy groups for coordinated action. Let’s work together against torture and make us a torture free society.
Shiv Karan Singh
Kishali Pinto Jayawardena
Wong Kai Shing
J de Almeida Guneratne
Rajat Mitra Baseer Naveed
La Min Kyi
Asian Human Rights Commission
Unit 701A, Westley Square
48 Hoi Yuen Road
Kwun Tong, KLN
Hong Kong, China
Tel: +(852) 2698 6339
Fax: +(852) 2698 6367
Web site: www.humanrights.asia
ISSN: 2304-134X (print) | ISSN: 2304-1358 (online)