Last night featured a packed room and many questions during a special event discussing the U.S. government’s engagement in torture against detainees suspected of terrorism. Cosponsored by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, The Constitution Project and Amnesty International USA, the gathering was prompted by separate reports from the Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which showed that the United States has engaged in torture and other un-American activities through the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) Program.
There was a hush over the audience at many points during the evening while listening to the speakers. Dr. Azizah Al-Hibri of KARAMAH, Ambassador James Jones, and Diane Randall of the Friends Committee on National Legislation all presented on issues under the umbrella of torture and government accountability.
“We found through the released, redacted CIA reports that there was indeed torture. This torture was not found to expose any significant results,” said Ambassador James Jones.
Later, Dr. Azizah Al-Hibri spoke, highlighting the fact that, “In our world today, leaders of Muslim countries have engaged in torture, even though the Prophet was famously against even hurting any animals.” Furthermore, in sharing the story of a prisoner tortured under U.S.-approved techniques, she highlighted that “when torturing another, you are not only dehumanizing the tortured but yourself.”
The final speaker, Diane Randall, spoke from a human perspective, bringing the issue of torture and detainment close to home. “These violations of human rights makes us morally bankrupt,” Diane Randall said, “and there is an opportunity for people of faith to be active on this issue of torture, here and at home.”
Following the panelists, a question and answer session took place, bringing in engagement both from the in-house audience and online, using the hashtag #ExposeTorture. There was a great deal of engagement, as well as a yearning to continue efforts to bring awareness to the gross mistreatment of prisoners both here and abroad. There was a live webcast of the event, which can now be found online. While the month on bringing awareness to torture is quickly coming to a close, Karamah’s dedication to accountability and dignity for all still holds true, summed up perfectly by Dr. Azizah Al-Hibri when she said, “We are called Karamah because we are dedicated to bringing dignity to all. For someone to deny our dignity, it is to deny theirs, as well.”