Liberation Psychology: 25 years on. Martín-Baró on State terrorism in El Salvador (video)

Ignacio Martín-Baró on State terrorism in El Salvador.
A rare video of Martín-Baró speaking in English.  He covers State terrorism in El Salvador in the 1980s and before. He focusses on the role of the disappearances, murders and massacres in the pacification of the population, taking a social psychological perspective that is firmly located in both a humanistic and a socio-political outlook.  He makes the important point that this political terrorism has an impact, not just on the victims, but also on the wider population.  Many thanks to Adrianne Aron (who introduces the talk) for making the video available.  The recording is rather quiet, but very clear: try headphones if it is too quiet on your machine.
Due to technical limitations it appears in three parts.  Also see our videos page.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 (corrected link)

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Letter from Mexico: disappearance of the student teachers and our responsibilities.

Protest in Mexico about the disappearance of the 43 student teachers in Guerrero State.

Protest in Mexico about the disappearance of the 43 student teachers in Guerrero State. From LAB. Click for the news article on the LAB site.

I received this from Mario Flores Lara, a Community Psychologist from Cuba who has also worked in Ecuador and who is currently in Mexico.  See his blog HERE.  I have translated it for the website with his permission.  It is a fairly loose translation: the angry poetic prose does not always translate direct.  Others with better Spanish might be able to suggest improvements.

Mario refers to an article in La Jornada that makes the connection between terrorist acts against civilian populations and the suppression of dissent.  This was seen in the Central American conflicts, in the US war on the Vietnamese people, and in the occupation of Iraq.  We see it in Palestine today.

Mario discusses what community psychologists can do in the face of such outrages.  Your contributions, thoughts, reactions and suggestions would be very welcome.

“10 November, 2014

“Friends, Comrades, Sisters and Brothers,

The events in Iguala-Ayotzinapa, here in Mexico paralyse us with pain and rage.

Impacts that go beyond the borders of Mexico.

Latin America and the world looks at this governmental barbarism with unease and alarm.

Murder by the system together with the usual impunity imply a process of discipline, control and submission through violence, fear and terror. The paralysis and immobilisation can also be seen in terms of this tactical and strategic objective.

Today (10 November, 2014) in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, there is an interesting article from the journalist Carlos Fazio, which I think is well worth reading.

The aim is to paralyse the population through terror. The disappearances are one method, the principal pobjective was to break up any form of resistance and maintain the population in a state of harsh uncertainty…. The ultimate aim of the terrorist State is the discipline of the body politic.”

This text, and all the sad events of recent times, make me resonate with responsibility, both individual and community-social, that we all have. Each of us, wherever we are, can, however we may, with small yet great actions, denounce, express, while stubbornly continuing to build roads to dignity, respect and life.

The murder of the 43 trainee teachers, disappeared in Ayotzinapa, is an affront to all of Mexico, for all of Latin America and all the world: an affront that is both personal and collective.

A Chilean friend asked me, by email, “how can we offer solidarity from here?”, and it occurred to me personally to think that all initiatives of witness and denunciation are valid and necessary, and so creativity and courage continue to be a fundamental part of our resources and abilities: from being informed, putting up a poster at the entrance of the university, talking about the theme together, torchlight processions, writing to Mexican embassies, messages to Mexican student organisations …. and many others.

And taking the long view, I keep on thinking that social atomisation, individualism, loneliness, fear, immobilisation, can be seen as strategic objectives, established symptoms of a decadent and dehumanising economic and political model. Partial deaths of a culture of death that reaches its climax with these brutal murders: today Ayotzinapa, before Acteal [Chiapas, Mexico: massacre of 45 indigenous Tzotzil Zapatista supporters in 1997], Trelew [Argentina: collective execution of leftist and Peronist activists by the military government, 1972], Pando [ambush leading to death of at least 19 Bolivian peasants, likely part of a right wing coup attempt against the MAS government of Evo Morales after its 2008 victory], Ranquil [Chile, 1934: massacre of around 500 forestry workers and Mapuche residents, protesting against labour and colonisation practices], La Moneda [bombing of the Chilean Presidential Palace, and murder of Salvador Allende, 11 Sept, 1973].

And I continue thinking about our responsibilities and tasks, now and in the future: dwelling in conviviality, going with and from the heartbeat of communities, continue advancing social dialogues that draw upon difference and multiplicity, so that respect for human dignity becomes a real reality, as the right of all and for all, and not just for the privileged few; that as Latin Americans the ethical-moral duty of de-colonising ourselves from a modernity seen as a excluding, negating and dominating mono-cultural paradigm.

In the face of a culture of death, a culture for life.

And not just resisting, but coming up with alternatives and constructing them.”

Mario Flores Lara

Community Psychologist

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Spanish original:

AMIGxS, COMPAÑERxS, HERMANxS:
 
Los acontecimientos de Iguala-Ayotzinapa, acá en México, nos llenan de dolor, rabia y estupor. 
Impactos que han trascendido las fronteras de tierras mexicas. 
Latinoamérica y el mundo mira con desconcierto y alarma esta barbarie con rango de política de Estado.
 
El crimen sistemático y la impunidad consuetudinaria se propone el  disciplinamiento, control y sometimiento mediante la violencia, el miedo y el terror. La paralización e inmovilidad se dibuja también como su horizonte táctico-estratégico.
 
Hoy en el periódico La Jornada (http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ultimas) aparece un interesante artículo del periodista Carlos Fazio, que creo vale la pena leer: “El propósito era paralizar a la población mediante el terror. Los desaparecidos eran un medio; el objetivo principal era desarticular cualquier forma de resistencia y mantener a la población en una incertidumbre duradera.” “La finalidad del Estado terrorista es el disciplinamiento del cuerpo social.” 
Este texto, y todos los tristes acontecimientos del último tiempo, me hacen resonar en la responsabilidad individual-singular y social-comunitaria que todxs tenemos: Cada unx dónde esté, cómo pueda, cómo quiera, con pequeñas-grandes acciones, para denunciar, para expresar, para seguir proponiendo y porfiadamente construyendo caminos de dignidad, respeto y vida.
Los asesinados y los 43 normalistas desaparecidos de Ayotzinapa son una afrenta para México, para toda América Latina y para el mundo. Una afrenta personal y colectiva.
Una amiga chilena me preguntaba ayer por correo “¿cómo nos podemos solidarizar desde acá?”, y en lo personal se me ocurre pensar que todas las iniciativas de denuncia son válidas y necesarias, y que entonces la creatividad y el coraje siguen siendo parte fundamental de nuestros recursos y capacidades: desde estar informadxs, pegar una cartulina a la entrada de la universidad, conversar el tema en colectivo, un plantón relámpago, usar las redes ciber, escribir a las embajadas mexicanas, mensajes a las organizaciones estudiantiles mexicanas… y así un etcétera sin cotos…
Y con la “mirada larga” sigo sentipensando que la atomización, el individualismo, la soledad, el miedo, la inmovilidad, están trazados como objetivos estratégicos y se erigen como síntomas de un modelo político-económico decadente y deshumanizante. Muertes parciales de una cultura de la muerte que alcanza su paroxismo en estos brutales asesinatos masivos: hoy Ayotzinapa, antes Acteal, Trelew, Pando, Ranquil, La Moneda…
Y se me antoja continuar pensando en nuestras responsabilidades y tareas presentes-futuras: Habitar las grupalidades; Latir en-con-desde las comunidades; Seguir avanzando en los diálogos sociales sustentados en la diferencia y multiplicidad; Que sea realidad real el respeto a la dignidad humana como Derecho de todxs y para todxs y no sólo para algunxs privilegiadxs; Que como latinoamericanxs tenemos el deber ético-moral de descolonizarnos de una Modernidad como paradigma monocultural excluyente, negador y dominador…
Ante una cultura de la muerte, una CULTURA DE LA VIDA.
Ya no sólo resistir, sino proponer y construir.
Mario Flores Lara
Psicólogo Comunitario
www.metodologiascomunitariasemancipadoras.blogspot.com
www.multilogocomunitario.blogspot.com
www.youtube.com/user/MarioFloresLara
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Statement of support and solidarity with the people of Gaza

updated signatories: 13/08/14
contact us if you’d still like to add your name.

This is a statement from community and community-orientated psychologists, mostly in the UK, but with an increasing number of international endorsers.

Statement of support and solidarity with the people of Gaza.

As Community and Community-Orientated Psychologists in the UK we again extend our support for and solidarity to the people of Gaza. We are calling upon the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps, beginning with immediate boycotts, disinvestments and sanctions against the state of Israel, to oblige Israel’s political administration to: abide by international law; dismantle its apartheid regime spanning both the occupied territories and Israel; immediately and unconditionally end its assault on and siege of Gaza; end the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including its illegal settlements; abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders; and commit to pursuing a long-lasting, just peace.

We condemn all attacks on civilians, including the rocket retaliation from Gaza, noting that combatants have an obligation to protect civilians under international law. However we draw attention to the disproportionality of Israel’s attacks on Gaza, which includes the indiscriminate killing of men, women and children by the armed forces of a supposedly democratic State whose citizens they still are (since only limited autonomy has been granted to the Palestine Authority). We are concerned by reports from doctors that DIME munitions are again in use which cause extremely destructive damage to the bodies of those near the blast. The Israeli military deliberately targets hospitals, civilian shelters and prevents medical aid reaching the injured and medical supplies and equipment from entering the Gaza Strip and destroys Gaza’s infrastructure of roads, water supplies, sanitation, food production, food distribution, food security, electricity, social services, education services, health services, law and order, housing, environmental services, and broader social support structures. We particularly note that during armed conflict, international humanitarian law requires that health care facilities, ambulances, medical personnel and the wounded and sick are all afforded specific protection.

As psychologists we also draw attention to the impact of this and other attacks on Palestinians on the psychological and social health and well-being of all sections of the population, particularly children, the elderly and those with additional vulnerabilities. UNRWA has indicated very high and rising levels of severe psychological trauma, especially among children. The extreme constraints placed on the Palestinian health services, UNRWA and the various NGOs and civil society organisations can only make this situation far worse, despite the admirable and inspiring capacity of the Palestinian people to maintain and celebrate their cultural traditions.

We do note that many Israeli citizens (at home and worldwide) are opposed to the policies and resultant violence of their government. Moreover, the situation is also detrimental to the psychological well-being of Israeli citizens, who are living in a context where threat of ‘the other’ is used to instil fear and legitimise such abhorrent action.

The massacre of civilians in Gaza is the latest, terrorist phase of a war that successive governments of Israel (supported by the USA and Britain) have been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years, since Britain’s botched abandonment of its mandate triggered the Palestinian Nakba of 1948. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of Palestinian land and resources. CPUK believes that for the sake of justice and global peace, the Israeli State must not be allowed to achieve this. Our belief in the right of the Palestinians to democratic self-determination, and to resist military aggression and colonial occupation means we stand with the people of Palestine, whether in Gaza, the West Bank, occupied Jerusalem or the pre-1967 boundaries of the State of Israel in their struggle against that racist, colonial State and its government.

Additional notes
For UNWRA statement on post-conflict psychological trauma see http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/serious-upsurge-post-conflict-trauma-gaza-says-un

The blockade means a severe shortage of medicines and other vital supplies. Before the current attack the Gaza health services were already suffering from an acute shortage of fuel and supplies, with 54 percent of medical disposables and 28 percent of essential drugs at zero stock. Now some hospitals are reporting that they do not have sutures, materials to treat bone injuries, or enough reactive agents to perform routine blood tests. On 15 July 41 organizations warned of an extremely severe Palestinian health sector crisis, with, in Gaza’s hospitals the cessation of most primary services and women’s health services.

80% of Gaza’s population are refugees or their descendants.

The Gaza population of 1.7 Million is confined in a small area, no bigger than the Isle of Wight. There is no escape from the missiles and naval bombardment, nor the frequent army incursions. There is clear evidence (for example BBC Radio 4 reports, 17 July) that Israel’s claim to warn civilians of missile attacks is meaningless. Unlike Israel, the Palestinians do not have air raid shelters.

Primary Source: Medical Aid for Palestinians http://www.map-uk.org/news/41-organizations-warn-of-palestinian-health-sector-crisis.aspx

Signatories

1. Professor Mark Burton 2. Dr Steve Melluish 3. Dr Cathy Amor 4. Professor Jacqueline Akhurst 5. Dr Chris Pawson 6. Aisling Kelly 7. Dr Joe Judge 8. Dr Laura Jobson 9. Christine Ward 10. Tom Wengraf 11. Dr Laara Jupp 12. Professor Carolyn Kagan 13. Teresa Nevard 14. Dr Alia Ul-Hassan 15. Jade Weston 16. Dr Sally Zlotowitz 17. Jacqui Lovell 18. Professor Kerry Chamberlain (New Zealand) 19. Dr Carl Walker 20. Dr John Cromby 21. Dr Nimisha Patel 22. Dr Penny Priest 23. Helen Beckwith 24. Lucy Hawkes 25. Dr Lianne Hovell 26. Scott Bartle 27. Sam Farley 28. Dr Donna Oxley 29. Dr Peter Branney 30. Dr Nigel Hunt 31. Dr Aneta D. Tunariu 32. Dr Argyris Argyriadis (Greece) 33. Majid Hussain 34. Dr Kasper Andreas Kristensen (Denmark) 35. Dr Tria Moore 36. Dr Paula Corcoran 37. Liz Cunningham 38. Emma-Louise Aveling 39. Kathryn Cooper 40. Stephen Thorpe 41. Masuma Rahim 42. Gareth Morgan 43. Dr Mirsad Serdarevic (USA) 44. Dr Maxine Woolhouse 45. Dr. Lisa Thorne 46. Tamsin Curno 47. Eleanor Shoultz 48. Dr Andrew Hart 49. Amna Abdulatif 50. Dr Jane Callaghan 51. Julie Bird 52. Professor Ashraf Kagee (South Africa) 53. Corinne Fortier (France) 54. Nancy Flores (New Zealand) 55. Dr. Dora Whittuck 56. Lynere Wilson (New Zealand) 57. Dr Bruce MZ Cohen (New Zealand) 58. Dr Clare Dixon 59. Dr. Nicholas Wood 60. Dr Sarah Blackshaw 61. Dr Sharen Hayre 62. Dr Oliver Pugh 63. Jenny Stuart 64. Dr Eleni Hatzidimitriadou 65. Dr Ruth Butterworth 66. Dr Anna Daiches 67. Dr Elizabeth Freeman 68. Dr Deborah Chinn 69. Dr Abdullah Mia 70. Dr. Katy Day 71. Madaleine Rowlinson 72. Dr Glenn Williams 73. Daniela Fernandez Catherall 74. Tim Siggs 75. Dr Julie Vane 76. Dr Carl Harris 77. Dr Sue Roffey (Australia) 78. Dr Jo Hadfield 79. Emma Ridley 80. Stacy Earl 81. Dr Aayesha Mulla 82. Dr Sarah Keenan 83. Carlos Luis (Mexico) 84. Dr Kelly Fulton 85. Dr Kate Foxwell 86. Dr Nausheen Masood 87. Professor Serdar Degirmencioglu (Turkey) 88. Dr Kaanan Butor-Bhavsar 89. Dr Bob Diamond 90. Naomi James 91. Dr Suzanne Elliott 92. Dr Dori Fatma Yusef 93. Dr Gemma Mitchell 94. Dr Angela Byrne 95. Dr Mohamed Altawil (Palestine Trauma Center) 96. Dr Anna Zoli (Italy) 97. Lucie Nalletamby 98. Annie Mitchell 99. Lesley Katib 100. Dr. Rochelle Ann Burgess 101. Dra. Raquel S. L. Guzzo (Brasil) 102.  Dr Melanie Smith 103. Gillian Hughes 104. Professor Roderick Watts (USA) 105. Dr Maria Castro 106. Dr Jane Alderton 107. Dr Farhana Patel 108. Dr. Greta Sykes 109. Nina Browne 110. Colm Gallagher 111. Noreen Naz 112. Mandy Underwood 113. Mandeep Singh Kallu 114. Dr Nadia Karim 115. Dr Laura Cutts 116. Professor Erica Burman 117. Professor Adrianne Aron (USA) 118. Eleftherios (Terry) Georgiou 119. Dr Evangelia Karydi 120. Dr Taiwo Afuape.

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Coalition for an Ethical Psychology: Statement on the APA’s failure to investigate Guantánamo Bay affair

image of bare room

from ethicalpsychology.org

from the COALITION FOR AN ETHICAL PSYCHOLOGY  www.ethicalpsychology.org

The Ethics Office of the American Psychological Association (APA) has announced that it will not proceed with formal charges against military psychologist Dr. John Leso, despite extensive public documentation that this APA member designed and participated in abusive interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In fact, Susan Crawford, the convening authority on military commissions at Guantanamo appointed by President George W. Bush, refused to refer the case of detainee Mohammed al Qahtani to trial because she concluded his interrogation met the legal definition of torture. Dr. Leso is known to have been a supervisor and participant in that interrogation.

Because Dr. Leso’s documented actions so clearly violated psychological ethics and because this abuse of psychological expertise was undertaken at the behest of governmental authorities, this case represents a landmark test of the independence of psychological ethics and professional standards from governmental and institutional pressures. The APA’s failure to pursue charges against Dr. Leso jeopardizes our profession’s fundamental ethical principles. In this synopsis we review (1) APA’s repeated vow to bring such cases to account; (2) the public record of clearly documented violations by Dr. Leso; (3) APA’s justifications for closing the Leso case without formal charges; and (4) our procedural and ethical assessment of the APA’s resolution of this case.

read the full statement.

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APA fails to take action on collusion with Guantánamo torture

The following post is based on a request from Psychologists for Social Responsibility, a USA-based group.

It is possible you’ve heard the news that the American Psychological Association recently issued a stunning landmark decision on psychologist involvement in state-sponsored torture.

U.S. military psychologist John Leso was involved in the development of the post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” protocol at Guantánano Bay Naval Base and is documented as directly participating in the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani. This interrogation was described as meeting the legal definition of “torture” by Susan Crawford, the Bush administration convener of the Guantánamo military commissions. Yet despite substantial evidence of Dr. Leso’s involvement in cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, the APA recently closed a complaint against him, almost seven years after it was first brought, without proceeding with formal charges.

I am writing to you today to ask for your help in putting needed public pressure on the APA, an organization whose leadership continues to be as complicit in U.S. torture under the Obama Administration as it was under the Bush Administration.

While several mainstream media organizations in the UK and Canada covered this important story (e.g., BBC, CBC, The Guardian), it has been buried in the U.S. The American public therefore goes unaware, and, we suspect, most APA members as well.

This week, Psychologists for Social Responsibility sent the letter pasted below to the APA Ethics Office, demanding answers (the letter is also available in PDF format on the PsySR website).

I am sure that all liberation-orientated psychologists will want to join in deploring the APA’s action and in supporting PSySR’s call for clear explanations and transparency about the decision-making process by APA.  You can read about PsySR’s work on torture at this link.  Please do publicise this through your own networks.

Mark Burton
Co-ordinator, LIberation Psychology Network
and Visiting Professor, Manchester Metropolitan University.

_________________________

Text of the letter to APA fromPsySR follows:

January 29, 2014

Stephen Behnke, JD, PhD Director, Ethics Office American Psychological Association 750 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20002-4242

Lindsay Childress-Beatty, JD, PhD Director of Adjudication/Deputy Director, Ethics Office American Psychological Association 750 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20002-4242

Dear Drs. Behnke and Childress-Beatty:

As representatives of Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR), we write to express our deep concern and dismay over the recent decision by the Ethics Office of the American Psychological Association to dismiss the Complaint against Dr. John Leso, a former military psychologist at Guantántamo Bay Naval Base. According to your 31 December 2013 letter to complainant Dr. Trudy Bond (a PsySR member), your office does not dispute that Dr. Leso was instrumental in devising and administering the Guantánamo “enhanced interrogation” protocol in 2002. Declassified government documents and independent reports have revealed that this protocol included, but was not limited to, weeks or months of solitary confinement; sleep deprivation; sexual humiliation; exposure to extreme cold; prolonged removal of sheets, blankets, wash cloths and religious items; 20-hour interrogations, and painful stress positions.

The Ethics Office took almost seven years to review one of the most egregious examples of unethical behavior in the history of American psychology. Due to unusual circumstances (leaks and release by Congress of classified documents) more information is available about Dr. Leso’s participation in government-sanctioned torture and abuse than may ever be the case for any other APA member. Dr. Leso co-wrote the plan for and is documented as directly participating in the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani. This interrogation was described as meeting the legal definition of “torture” by Susan Crawford, the Bush administration convener of the Guantánamo military commissions.

In the end, your office apparently decided that Dr. Leso’s months of involvement with the torture program were wholly mitigated because he did not volunteer to lead the Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT) that formulated the protocol; he was an early-career psychologist; and he reportedly expressed unease with the assignment and a preference for “rapport-building” methods. In reaching its decision the Ethics Office has set a stunning and disturbing precedent. Your office has now provided another layer of protection to psychologists who participate in the debilitating isolation of prisoners, the psychological abuses still permitted by Appendix M of the Army Field Manual, the brutal force-feeding of Guantánamo hunger-strikers, or other ethical violations. As well, this logic suggests that psychologists who engage in insurance fraud or sexual relations with their patients can evade censure if they are relatively inexperienced and express discomfort in advance of or concurrent with their actions.

For years APA has insisted that it would sanction any member for whom credible evidence existed of participation in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, yet no psychologist has ever been held accountable for involvement in our government’s post-9/11 torture program. Evidence clearly exists that Dr. Leso and other psychologists have utterly failed to ensure that detention and interrogation operations at Guantánamo and elsewhere were kept “safe, legal, ethical, and effective.” By closing this case in the manner you have chosen, it is only reasonable for members and the broader public to assume that APA will never sanction any psychologist participating in government-sanctioned abuses. No statements from APA’s PR office will change this perception.

At this point, your office must realize that the Leso decision is being widely discussed in the media and has become a matter of profound concern to many members of the profession. We therefore believe that it is important for the Ethics Office to provide greater clarity regarding two key issues: First, substantively, how does this landmark decision align with the specific principles and standards of the APA’s code of ethics, and with longstanding professional prohibitions against involvement in torture and abuse? Second, procedurally, how was the decision to close the case reached? While you state that the complaint was “carefully reviewed by multiple reviewers,” it is unclear who these reviewers were. Does this decision reflect an official vote of the entire Ethics Committee, or rather action taken by the Director of the Ethics Office, or some other group of reviewers, without the participation of the full committee? Confidentiality about these matters serves, in our perception, no constructive purpose and instead raises confusion and uncertainty about the priorities and procedures of the Ethics Office. We therefore request that this information be made public in order to begin to rebuild the moral authority of the profession.

We look forward to your timely reply. Thank you.

Sincerely,

The Steering Committee of Psychologists for Social Responsibility

cc: Members of the APA Ethics Committee Members of the APA Board and Council of Representatives

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A year later, no progress in the Mexican disappearances | ¡NO MAS VICTIMAS!

A year later, no progress in investigating the disappearance of three youths in Paracho | ¡NO MAS VICTIMAS! (NO MORE VICTIMS!.

Sadly just over a year after the disappearance of three young professionals, tow of them psychologists, in Paracho, Michoacán, Mexico, thre is still no word of what happened to them.  The above link is to the website that covers their disappearance and the inaction, or likely complicity of the local authorities.  It’s a reminder that in some places those committed to a better world do run significant risks.

If you haven’t signed the petition (link from the site) then please do as it is one way of reminding the families they are not alone and the authorities that we are watching them.

 

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‘Guantanamo Nightmare’: Roy Eidelson on UnitedStatesian Psychology and Torture

from Counterpunch via Southern Psychologies (thanks Desmond)
“Roy Eidelson, clinical psychologist, president of Eidelson Consulting and member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, published a fascinating essay in the latest edition of Counterpunch (available online here). It’s a cautionary tale for psychology: a futuristic, distopian vision of a discipline so entangled with the military machinations of the US army that the APA has moved its headquarters to Guantanamo Bay… The opening paragraph reads as follows: ‘It was June 2025, and balloons, streamers, and fanfare celebrated the grand opening of the American Psychological Association’s new headquarters and museum at the former Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre in [an illegally occupied corner of] Cuba.    …….. read more.

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Petition to convict Rios Montt

See the previous post for detail and relevance of this case in Guatemala for Liberation Psychology.  As of 28 May there is still no resolution although it appears that the allegation made by Rios Montt’s lawyer was unfounded.
There is a petition to the Guatemalan Constitutional Court here.  As of the time of writing there have been 21,451 signatures of a target of 22,000.  Please consider adding your voice too HERE.

 

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Rios Montt convicted of genocide – and then the verdict is overturned

We have been following the Rios Montt trial in Guatemala because of the connection between the 1980s Central American State Terror and the origins of liberation psychology.  Psychologists also testified to the psychological and social trauma occasioned by the genocidal action against the indigenous population by the Guatemalan military.   While I’ve been away Rios Montt was found guilty and then the judgement was overturned (pending further court proceedings) by Guatemala’s constitutional court.   The following is from the trial website where you can also read the full report and find background material.  See also this report and this film.

“Only ten days after a trial court issued its historic verdict convicting Efrain Rios Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity, and sentencing him to prison for 80 years, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, in a 3-2 ruling, overturned the verdict and set the trial back to where it was April 19. This verdict had been the first genocide conviction of a former head of state in a domestic, rather than international, court.

Rios Montt was convicted for crimes committed against Guatemala’s Maya Ixil indigenous population during his 17-month de facto rule in 1982 and 1983 following a military coup. On Friday, May 17, the trial court (Tribunal Primero de Sentencia Penal, Narcoactividad y Delitos contra el Ambiente de Mayor Riesgo “A”) released its final 718-page judgment, describing in detail the foundation for Rios Montt’s conviction.

During the course of the trial, more than 90 witnesses testified of indiscriminate massacres, rape and sexual violence against women, infanticide, the destruction of crops to induce starvation, the abduction of children, and the forcible displacement and relocation of surviving populations into militarized “model villages”. Experts also provided forensic, military, sociological and other testimony and analysis.

The verdict came 30 years after the crimes and 13 years after the complaint was brought by survivors to the Public Ministry for investigation and prosecution.

The Constitutional Court, in its judgment on Monday, overturned the verdict and annulled the final days of the trial—sending the trial back to where it was on April 19. (On April 19, the tribunal had heard all prosecution witnesses, but still awaited the presentation of some of the defense witnesses, closing arguments and, of course, the final verdict and sentence.) The Constitutional Court also ordered the official suspension of the trial pending the full resolution of certain legal challenges raised by the defense. … READ MORE on the trial website.

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Guatemala genocide trial suspended – take action

The historically important trial of ex-dictator of Guatemala J.E. Rios Montt (see previous post) has been suspended (not by the trial judges but by another judge).  This potentially increases risks for complainants, witnesses (including psychology colleagues) and human rights activists, and if the trial were anulled it would mean strangthened impunity in Guatemala, the region and beyond. There is a petition here http://www.ghrc-usa.org/  from the Guatemala Human Rights Commission, demanding the reinstatement of the proceedings – please take a look and add your support.
ALl the detail is on the excellent website for the trial http://www.riosmontt-trial.org/  [o en castellano http://es.riosmontt-trial.org/] and the summary dated today 25/04/13 is a good summary of the last few days’ legal proceedings.  The constitutional court is reviewing the decision to annul the trial and has ruled on some points but is still to rule on others.

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