More than eighty people turned out Friday night to view the screening of “Beneath the Blindfold” at American University’s Washington College of Law. The hour-long screening offered a powerful indictment of torture and a powerful witness of the trauma and resilience of four torture survivors from Guatemala, Liberia, Colombia, and the United States.
Gizachew Emiru, Executive Director of TASSC International, and American University Law Professor Juan Mendez, who serves as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, welcomed the audience, among whom were many survivors of torture from TASSC International, the Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition.
Mr. Mendez, who is also a survivor of torture from the Dirty War in Argentina and a former Amnesty Interantional Prisoner of Conscience, reiterated that torture is “immoral and illegal,” and that is why it must be opposed. It is also ineffective, because the victim is motivated to say anything just to end the torture.
Mr. Mendez was joined on the panel by the filmmakers Kathy Berger and Ines Sommer, as well as Dr. Mary Fabri, former director of the Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center in Chicago, a torture treatment center, and Dr. Lin Piwowarcyck, current president of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs and director of the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights.
Several viewings of the film took place in the Washington DC – Baltimore area, including at Johns Hopkins University and Capitol Hill with congressional aides. The film is available as a DVD for $25 from the filmmakers.
Friday, February 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm
American University Washington College of Law
Beneath the Blindfold interweaves the personal stories of four torture survivors who now reside in the U.S., but originally hail from different parts of the globe: South and Central America, Africa, and the U.S. Filmmakers Ines Sommer and Kathy Berger set out to counter the ‘blind spot’ in our national conversation about torture by focusing on survivors’ personal stories, insights and struggles.
Panel Discussion will follow the film and feature:
Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
Dr. Lin Piwowarczyk, National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs
Dr. Mary Fabri, Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center
Kathy Berger and Ines Sommer, filmmakers of “Beneath the Blindfold”
Where are the voices of torture survivors today?
As the new film Zero Dark Thirty opens in movie theaters across the country and despite the extensive media coverage of abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, it is worth noting that the voices of torture survivors are rarely included in any of the public discussions about the use of torture. But without their stories, torture remains abstract, a practice that happens to people we neither know nor care about. They become statistics, their human suffering easily ignored.
“This essential documentary shakes our complacency and makes us determined to insist on actual, effective abolition of torture in our time.” – Juan E. Méndez, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture
For more information, Contact TASSC International: (202) 529-2991