Today marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.
Along with many others I founded NRCAT in response to the lack of outcry from faith communities after the Abu Ghraib photographs were released. Thanks to your hard work and partnership, today NRCAT is one of the most respected faith-based organizations working against U.S.-sponsored torture, at home and abroad.
NRCAT’s core principle is the fundamental belief shared by each of our religious traditions — the sacredness of human life. This means all human life without exception. We are convinced that torture, like rape, slavery and genocide, is never justified.
NRCAT strives to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, because no human being should be detained without charges or trial, for years on end, or subjected to force-feeding and torture. As people of faith we advocate a system of justice grounded in compassion, decency, and the rule of law. The continued existence of Guantanamo is a testament to the ongoing revolt of fear over compassion, brutality over decency, and high crimes over the principle that our nation should be governed by law.
At NRCAT we agree with the UN and others that the current practice of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails is tantamount to torture. What does it say about us as a nation that we tolerate the long-term isolation of fellow human beings, including children? We know that prolonged solitary confinement causes extreme duress, emotional disorder and even damage to the brain. Those who suffer the torture of this extreme isolation have been known to start talking to the insects in their cell.
I am proud that NRCAT has been in the forefront of working against anti-Muslim bigotry as it exists in our nation today. We will continue to stand in solidarity with those most vulnerable to irrational hysteria and unjust repression.
When NRCAT was launched in 2006, I had hoped it would not need to exist for this long. Unfortunately, our nation still has a long way to go in ending torture, and as the pro-torture statements of certain presidential candidates have shown, our work is needed now more than ever. Visit www.nrcat.org often for updates and opportunities to continue our work together.
I am deeply grateful for your faithful partnership in upholding the sacredness of human life and supporting the religious movement to end torture.
Dr. George Hunsinger