February 8, 2007
Aman & Damai
The Perdana Global Peace Foundation in Malaysia had a 3-day conference on “Expose War Crimes: Criminalise War”, very much Tun Mahathir’s initiative. The most heart-wrenching sessions, I suppose, were the testimonies of torture victims from Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, Palestine, Lebanon. Most popular was Ali, the well-known victim who was photographed standing with a black hooded cloak in Abu Ghraib. They shared very gripping accounts of how they were physically tormented (electrocuted penis, objects forced through rectum etc), made to give false statements that they were either terrorists or had information on other terrorists, a lot of other gruesome details.
The conference was an eye opener for many who have not considered the evil and destruction of mankind. In fact, I encourage all Malaysians to visit the International Exhibition at PWTC, still going on till the 11th Feb – it recreates the environment of war, full audio-visual experience, with deformed babies in cribs, babies crying, artillery sounds, blood splattered all over, torture instruments, pictures and information on the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine etc.
Humanity is depraved, and I’m not sure any amount of justification will suffice for the torture of civilians.
I was, however, a little peeved when some of the witnesses began to bring in religion, saying especially that Allah was punishing Ariel Sharon for killing many Palestinian children – and therefore he was suffering in illness. I don’t think it was necessary at all to bring that up. Look at it in humanitarian terms, and try not to evaluate it based on God’s judgment. I for example am a Christian but do not support the unlawful attacks perpetrated by Israel upon Palestine – far from it. And yes, surprise surprise, American Republican’s version of Christianity is not the only one available. Some Christians in the US are calling for the retraction of troops in Iraq, ending of the occupation, and not complying with Bush’s call to increase penetration of troops. See here, and especially here, which explains why the initiative is being carried out: Christian peace witness. And why purely “Christian” and not an interfaith thing?
While we are grateful for common ground we clearly have with many Jews and Muslims on this issue, as well as with those of countless other sisters and brothers who are not of the Abrahamic family but who clearly desire peace just as we do, we will gather to name the inescapable truth that this war is antithetical to everything that Jesus taught and did.
Whilst many people around the world have been victims of American foreign policy, I also don’t think that slapping hatred upon them is the most strategic stand either. It takes a heck lot of maturity, but they are still a superpower whose economic relations one would choose not to neglect.
There’s room for much disillusionment with the world today. But maybe we just have to stop and realise in fact, yes, we are a fallen people in a fallen world. The sort of torture and warcrimes that still go on till today are evidence of a sick, sick humanity. I think everyone should support peaceful solutions as far as possible – Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, or otherwise.
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