New York – FI Conferences on Torture and South Sudan
FI New York has recently organised two side events at the UN. The first, which took place on June 20th, was a discussion on torture featuring testimonies from survivors who have been involved with the work of Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition International (TASSC), and the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) which campaigns to get governments to ratify the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
The speakers shared their personal accounts of the horrors of torture. TASSC was in fact founded by Sr. Dianna Ortiz OSU, an American sister who suffered through an ordeal of torture in Guatemala. The organisation is run by survivors of torture who are working to end this inhumane practice currently carried out by over 138 governments around the world. FI and TASSC’s partnership has its roots in our involvement with the Franciscan Action Network (FAN). Franciscans around the world have collaborated extensively with FI on issues related to torture: most recently, on the use of the death penalty in Japan; institutionalised torture carried out by police and military forces in West Papua; harmful traditional practices against children in Benin; and violence against albinos in Tanzania.
The second event marked the first anniversary of the establishment of the state of South Sudan on July 9th 2011. Entitled “South Sudan: Spirituality and Development”, the discussion centred on the experiences and insights of Fr. Peter Major, a Mill Hill missionary priest, who shared his reflections on the people of South Sudan and their first year as a new nation. Fr. Peter described the deep religiosity of the South Sudanese people. “One of the difficulties in South Sudan, as in the rest of the world, is that when we pray we look up and believe, but when we look sideways to others, we don’t believe.” He emphasised the importance of treating one another with profound dignity and respect.