TORTURE: Asian and Global Perspectives
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Despite the political achievements of 2006, no proper transitional justice mechanisms, for example a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, have been established to address the human rights violations that occurred during the conflict. The victims of human rights abuses await justice while the perpetrators enjoy total impunity writes KAMAL RAJ PATHAK.
WHEN knowledge is limited to only quantifiable facts and events, we “become blind to the most important meanings of human existence,” pointed out Ignacio Martin-Baró once in his extraordinary work. He was a Jesuit priest who was murdered together with five other colleagues and their housekeeper and her young daughter by the Salvadoran government’s elite Atlacatl Battalion, a “counter-insurgency unit” created at the US Army’s School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia in 1980.
Interestingly, among the Hong Kong political elites who agreed that there was validity to the concept of distinct Asian values, there was significant disagreement as to what such values actually meant. The affirmative sample broke into three groups.
Since the early 1970s, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed by the government and by the non-state actors who led insurrections against the neo-feudal governmental apparatus in an attempt to reform society. However, the government was able to crackdown on the challenges to their rule while picking up those who were engaged the cause and, sadly, some of those who had nothing to do with the insurrections.
The importance of the Long March is in the march itself, which is addressing the present situation and a hope towards a peaceful solution. Thousands of innocents who are in the custody of the Pakistan military are facing the same needs of the hour. We as human beings need freedom, and justice, and a true cause to engage in to make life meaningful.
The truth has been placed before us that the passing of laws does not mean people will benefit from them without proper implementation through the criminal justice system in the particular country. In the words of the great poet Rabindranath Tagore, "facts are many, but the truth is one."
Time has value if one explores one’s experiences, for one’s mind decides mostly by experience. We have spent centuries trying to understand humanity and the capacity of the human mind to preserve its sovereignty.Thereafter, we have spent more years to give form to our discoveries of morality and dignity resulting in sovereignty being confirmed through equal status until known otherwise. But, in reality neither the equality nor dignity of ordinary people are being preserved or enjoyed due to the politics that engages stigmatic operations against real freedoms. By and large, the unimaginable price of inequality has to be paid for, unconditionally, by each of us with or without our knowledge. It has directed society as a whole into its current state of anxiety.
We are on the edge of the new era of extremism and fundamentalism which constantly challenges and curtails the personal liberty of the people, and that reduces mankind's desire for freedom to little more than a dream. We are in the miserable position of not just trying to fight these enemies, but also of just trying to understand what threat they really pose. It has become increasingly clear in recent years that the concepts and mindsets of previous decades are no longer suitable to explain or counter modern extremism.
Nothing can justify torture under any circumstances. But torture is still an endemic issue for mankind, confirming that many countries are not keen to criminalize torture. Many state and non-state actors provide justifications in this regard, while thousands of people continue to become victims of this inhuman practice, which has its origin in the jungle age and system. Time is compelling us to engage, to recognize, and eliminate torture through the current political track rather than conducting a distant analysis of the past.
In July 2012, the Asian Alliance Against Torture and Ill-treatment hosted an unprecedented event in Hong Kong. Several Asian parliamentarians and leading human rights activists were invited to deliberate on ways to combat the practice of torture and ill-treatment in Asia.
WHAT WENT WRONG? - In the last hundred years, many laws have been passed and many international conventions have been signed by the government on behalf of the State in acceptance of the prohibition of torture. But torture continues to be practiced widely in Sri Lanka, even today.
THIRST FOR DEMOCRACY: Torture neither promotes democracy nor supports the rule of law. On the contrary, torture, whether openly or clandestinely used, undermines democratic governnance.