Our Desperate Attempts to Reject Torture
03 August 2015
By Diana Moukalled
This month is dedicated to a global media campaign against torture.
Documented testimonies, investigations, articles and videos of survivors from
across the world are being broadcast on alternative media platforms and
websites in an attempt to exert more pressure on the parties who engage in
torture practices. Voices opposing torture can be heard everywhere. However,
these violent practices have not come to an end in the Arab world, nor will
they soon. In the Arab region torture is often sponsored by the state
authorities. Do you remember a young Egyptian man named Khaled Said who was
tortured to death and whose death was one of the sparks that triggered the
Egyptian revolution? Do you remember the children of Dera'a who mobilized the
crowds after their fingernails were pulled out by the Syrian regime? Screams
emerging from Arab prisons have become a distinguishing mark of our region.
We were deluded into thinking that the uproars which erupted in 2011 would
force people who have been silent about Arab prisons to speak out. However,
this did not happen as deaths increased and torture and brutal murders became
a daily occurrence. So, what can a campaign against torture achieve?
For us, the citizens of the Middle East, it seems that efforts such as media
and human rights campaigns to fight torture are an urgent need. Blood has
been shed for years, to the point where we can see this blood on our pillows
and we can hear the screams of those being tortured in our sleep. The Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is trying to break the monotony of
decapitation videos and is producing new videos in which it resorts to
drowning and exploding the bodies of prisoners.
The torture of a Syrian boy to death pained us all as the soldier who
brutally beat him up clearly said: "I want to kill him even if they expel me
from the army."
Expulsion from the Syrian army is the maximum penalty a child torturer and
murderer can receive. In fact, most torturers escape punishment even when a
punishment is imposed. However, this circle of brutality includes both,
torturers and those who cheer for them. People are not united over rejecting
torture. In fact, they condemn it according to the identities of the tortured
and the torturer.
A leaked video showing Islamist detainees being tortured at Roumieh Prison
has sparked controversy in Lebanon. Many thought the ones being beaten up are
affiliated with ISIS and thus deserve this torture and pain. Similar views
have been echoed in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other places. People have
yet to decide their stance on insulting, inflicting pain and humiliating the
The identity of the tormented determines whether we condemn or celebrate
their suffering. We are confronting regimes and militias who have been raised
amidst this brutality. Therefore, the global campaign against torture seems
of no significance and is rather met by a wry smile by some. There are needs
and obstacles to address before we realize the extent of our need to reject
killing, humiliating and inflicting pain on others even if they are guilty,
and we will always find excuses to justify our acceptance of such violations.
Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the
Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked
Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs
on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana
also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and
in Afghanistan, as well as the Isreali "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern
Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained world wide recognition and was named one of
the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in