People drawn from all walks of life gathered at the University of Minnesota International Center at the end of June to express sympathy and solidarity to thousands of victims of torture worldwide.
Marking this year’s International Day in support of victims of torture, the group meeting under the auspices of Minneapolis based Center of Victims of Torture prayed, planted trees and sung songs to showcase their feelings as a testament to the power of healing and the resilience of torture survivors around the world.
Delivering the keynote speech, the Executive Director of the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) Douglas Johnson castigated world governments including the United States that condone torture. He called upon United States citizens to come together and reject unpopular policies like the establishment of secret prisons, unlawful detentions and what he termed as "illegal outsourcing of torture"." I hope you will join us in working to end the policies still in place, that allow for torture and inhuman treatment of those who are detained in the name of the war on terrorism", he said amidst applause from gathering.
He heaped praise on a group of 200 volunteers that he said were useful to the daily operations of his office saying they deserved recognition for their important work at CVT. "They drive clients to and from appointements; work one-on-one with torture survivors helping them acclimate to a new life; they spread CVT’s message of hope and healing by speaking to groups; they conduct research, provide administrative support and tend our garden,without them CVT could not do the work it does" he said.
Addressing the same gathering, the Chairman of the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota Gboyee Seeyon challenged the state to show its commitment to victims of torture in Minnesota by working closely with African non-profit and community organizations. He decried the on-going trend where African community organizations were competing with the mainstream non-profits on disbursed funds calling it a regret and an embarrassment to the ultimate purpose of assisting torture victims in the state and across the world.” We are supposed to be collaborating not competing" Seeyon remarked, mentioning proposal and grant writing as two areas where such communities need to be assisted on.
The International Day in support of torture is celebrated to express solidarity with the suffering of torture victims and their families and to reaffirm the need for a global commitment to rehabilitate all victims of such an abuse. It marks the twentieth anniversary of the entry into force of the convention against torture though many nations including the United States have failed to ratify it.