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  The Strappado Rendition

COMMENTARY:

The Strappado Rendition

by Anwaar Hussain
America has now become the biggest patron of torture by proxy in the history of planet earth....America oversees from a distance the sessions of pain in dark dungeons.
In one of the most widely disseminated images from the Abu Ghraib scandal, the thuggish grinning faces of Specialists Sabrina Harman and Charles Garner peer out with an evil force. Each is offering a "thumbs-up" gesture as if posing for a pride of performance award.

In the background is a cellophane-wrapped, ice-packed corpse of one Manadel al-Jamadi, an Iraqi who was tortured to death during interrogation at Abu Ghraib prison. The US military ruled the death a homicide.

In February 2005, it was revealed that he died after a horrible half-hour session of pain. He was suspended from a barred window by his wrists, which were bound behind his back, in a hideous torture method known as the strappado.

Strappado is a form of torture in which a victim is suspended in the air by means of a rope attached to his hands which are tied behind his back. Weights may be added to the body. Now adopted by the American interrogators, the technique is also known as Palestinian Hanging, or reverse hanging, and is frequently used by Israeli troops on Palestinian prisoners.

In strappado, the victim has his arms tied behind his back with a large rope tied to his wrists and passed over a beam or a hook on the roof. The torturer pulls on this rope until the victim is hanging from his arms. The full weight of the victim’s body is then supported by the extended and internally-rotated shoulder sockets. Since the victim has his hands tied behind the back, this causes a very intense pain. When allowed to continue for a longer time, if not death, a painful dislocation of the joints of both arms is the sure outcome.

Notwithstanding the legal acrobatics that the current US administration has gone over in defining torture, torture is universally understood to be the infliction of severe physical or psychological torment as an expression of cruelty, a means of terrorization, retribution or punishment, or as an illegal tool for the extraction of information or confessions. Period.

Torture is also universally considered to be an extreme violation of human rights, as stated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Signatories of the 3rd and 4th Geneva Conventions agree not to torture protected persons (enemy civilians and POWs) in armed conflicts. Signatories of the UN Convention Against Torture too concur not to intentionally inflict severe pain or suffering on anyone, to obtain information or a confession, to punish them, or to coerce them or a third person.

Only recently, after being bombarded with questions about alleged secret CIA prisons in eastern Europe while in Ukraine, Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, said: "As a matter of ... policy, the United States' obligations under the [UN convention against torture] which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment extends to US personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the US or outside the US."

In other words, the President of United States, the Vice President and the Secretary of State all are saying one thing i.e. ‘we do not torture’.

Yet Dick Cheney, the US vice president, has lobbied against legislation banning cruel treatment of prisoners, calling for a clause exempting the CIA, and President George W. Bush threatened to block the Senate bill.

Other than Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, where detainees have included children as young as 11 years old and where some detainees have now been held for up to four years without charge or trial, America’s torture trail at the present weaves across the globe. America has now become the biggest patron of torture by proxy in the history of planet earth.

Consider the following.

Overseas detention(read torture) facilities are known to be or to have been maintained at least in Thailand, the Philippines, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Cyprus, Cuba, Diego Garcia, some Gulf States and unspecified South Pacific island nations. Certain other suspected detention facilities are in Indonesia, El Salvador, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Israel, Denmark, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Hungary, Germany, and Scotland. In these countries, America oversees from a distance the sessions of pain in dark dungeons. The whole process is affectionately called as ‘the renditions’ by American officials.

The current US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has become the latest mouthpiece of the pain dealers.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, she is the only child of Angelena Rice and the Reverend John Wesley Rice, Jr. Her father was a minister at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and her mother was a music teacher. The name "Condoleezza" is derived from an Italian music-related expression, "Con dolcezza", meaning "with sweetness."

With the goal of becoming a concert pianist, Condoleezza Rice studied piano at an Aspen music camp in her teens. She has also been known to make use of her musical skills and once played Glenn Gould's piano with Michaelle Jean at Rideau Hall.

In January 2005, during Bush's second inaugural ceremonies, Rice first used the term ‘outposts of tyranny’ to refer to countries that in her view threatened world peace and human rights. This phrase has been called a successor of Bush's phrase "Axis of Evil," used to describe Iraq, Iran and North Korea. She identified six such "outposts" in which she said the United States has a duty to foster freedom: Cuba, Zimbabwe, Burma and Belarus, as well as Iran and North Korea.

She has also pledged allegiance to the flag of United States of America in the following words:

"I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
As America sleeps, Condoleezza Rice now delivers the Strappado Rendition, 'with sweetness,' to countless helpless victims in more than three dozen ‘outposts of tyranny.' In the balconies above, her masters glide in a ghostly saltation, watching her performance. Her victims, however, are reeling with pain by the time she strikes the end note of her grand finale.

Liberty and justice for all--the strappado way.


©2005 Anwaar Hussain. The author, a retired Pakistani military officer, lives in the United Arab Emirates. Visit his website at malakandsky.blogspot.com/.


Copyright © 2005 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on December 13, 2005.

 

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