Stop Torture

The Harvard Anti-Torture Coalition

Eight Argentine Military Officers Convicted of Crimes Against Humanity

Posted by stoptorture on December 19th, 2007

Court sentences them to 20-25 years

The AP has it in English, Página 12 in Spanish.

This may seem off-topic to some, but having been born under that dictatorship and raised with stories of torture, disappearances, habeas suspension, surveillance, secret trials of subversives, and (of course) amnesty laws, it’s never seemed so far-fetched to me.

Maybe this is a preview of the justice that we, too, might see thirty years from now — but only if we lay the groundwork now. As is always the case, we will have no transition because, haven’t you heard, we are already a democracy. We will have no truth commission because those are for the brown savages, south of the equator. Instead, we will get Hillary and Nancy. Life will go on as it used to, easy to ignore the torture neatly tucked away under the rug. Mainstream Democrats play nice and ignore the crimes they now reserve the power to commit and try clumsily to win political points pursuing petty misdemeanors instead.

The legal battles and New York Times coverage are important–but not enough. Without protest, without emotion, without people, we get nowhere. The Argentine courts did not wake up one day and realize that amnesty was unconstitutional. It took politics to change the courts, and it takes people to change politics. In this case, a generation of angry youth took to the streets, raised voices and shamed the torturers when the law fell silent, and did its small, but real part to wake the country up from its stupor.

To roughly translate one of the convicted officers, Guerrieri:

“I reject the term repressor. We were soldiers paid by the people, those who stand behind me and around me. We went out there to restore order. We do not look like murderers. We look like soldiers who fulfilled their duty.”

I’m eerily reminded of Kiriakou, NYTimes-dubbed “43-year-old father of four,” and all those nice-looking agents and lawyers whose reputations and careers Prof. Goldsmith is mourning in advance.

The choice is yours: Will you be the agent of change?  Or the one who the torturer thinks he serves?

Photo credit: Página 12

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