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HUMR2401A Full set of lecture notes very useful for study


Department
Human Rights
Course Code
HUMR 2401
Professor
Bill Skidmore

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HUMR2401A, Human Rights: Political Repression, Bill Skidmore
September 13
Ezat Mossallanejed - Torture in the Age of Fear
Am iranian victim of torture
discovered the value of regular exercise in 4 years prison gives u some control, better able to
withstand torture
task setting keep urself busy - art, singing, w/e - or go crazy
tell jokes to take the edge off of tension
Three questions:
what are methods of polirep?
do you kno anyone whos experienced it?
how has it affected you?
political repression is not just physical - the invisible hand of the market is often paired with the hidden
fist

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September 20
- prof stresses that violence is not the main form of repression
- could have the state remove you from your job
- in all places there are some circumstances where you have to keep your voice down about some things
or risk repercussions
- profs also are wary abt revealing their poli/socio views bc they want to secure their tenure
- ppl can become accustomed to being afraid/timid
- ctrl can be maintained thru indoctrination
in school
at home
through the news
- increasingly it is also easy to just plain get distracted and not seek out information
- states often only resort to force once theyve lost ideological or economic control
- repression first targets those who speak out, then everyone
- torture is used to destroy the victim politically (take away their will to continue) and target 3rd parties
as intimidation
- torture first erodes the social world of the victim until it is just reduced to them, the pain, and the
person who inflicts it
- then it takes away your humanity, alienating you
- this isolation/alienation unmakes their world - it strips it of meaning as it strips the very notion of
"civilization"
- Jean Amery (Austrian philosopher, tortured by nazis) "Anyone who has suffered torture never again
will be at ease in the world....faith in humanity is never acquired again"
- when som1 is dissapeared, it does a number on their loved 1s are they alive? dead? should i
mourn? can i mourn?
- in some cases, a person cannot show any emotion over these things, or else the state could come after
them too

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Reading 2: How Torture UnMakes Worlds
- all torture - physical or psychological - is still torture
- they both screw you up
- you can have trouble sleeping, having sex, walking, hearing, recalling memories, with your bowels
- people can wind up blaming themselves for these horrible things, will often feel ashamed
- paranoia will often crop up in social movements when ppl start disappearing ("who ratted him? is it
her? am i next?")
Coping
- using commitments as a bedrock
- some ppl (like political activists) prepare themselves in advance
- retreat from the world sleeping, fantasizing
- suppressing emotions (drugs/alcohol)
- transfer inner conflict onto a body part see an atrocity, go blind (happens on occaision)
- for some ppl they need to re-live - horrible as it is - and thereby come to terms with its personal and
social meanings.
Video
How did Dianna Ortiz attempt to seek justice for the torture she (and others) was subjected to?
What did she encounter in this quest?
- movie title: the blindfold's eyes
- ortiz was tortured in guatemala in 1989, she was a missionary teaching mayan children
- guatemala was in the midst of a US-funded civil war at the time
- she received death threats and was told to leave the country
- nov 2, 1989 she was abducted and tortured by guatamalan security forces, led by an american
- she was burned with a cigarette every time she answered a question in a way they didnt like; at least
111 on her back alone
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