Anti-torture meeting on Syros
A number of the world’s leading human rights groups gathered on the island of Syros this week to attend an international meeting in a drive to eradicate torture from the face of the earth. Attending a four-day meeting of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), which started on Tuesday and ended yesterday, human rights activists had a rare opportunity to exchange views on the current situation of human rights violations internationally, and pledge cooperation in an effort to end state-sponsored torture and racism. It is easy for blind racism to be born in the name of the war between civilizations, and we should resist that, said Maria Piniou-Kalli, the Greek president of the Copenhagen-based IRCT. Power in the Western democracies does not derive from God but from the people. It is rather a war between the forces of democracy, freedom and human rights and those who wish to suppress them. Kalli stressed the importance of tolerance in this rapidly expanding global village, saying and that torture has no place in civilized nations. Our international network is an example of multicultural coexistence, she remarked. Despite our different national, cultural and religious origins we use a common language that stretches from defending the individual victim of torture to the vision of a civilization based on democracy and human rights. The IRCT is an umbrella organization against torture representing around 200 rehabilitation centers and programs around the world, and which has a special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The council notes that addressing the impact of torture is critical in the promotion of peace, security and stability in existing, emerging and transitional democracies as well as in totalitarian regimes. The IRCT is represented in Greece by the Medical Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims (MRCT) of Athens, which has cared for over 2,500 patients since 1989. The center also operates a second rehabilitation unit in the northern port of Thessaloniki. The work of the MRCT has been central in rehabilitation programs conducted in the greater Balkan region. Constantinides also accused a parliament member of behind-the-scenes arm twisting to ensure the vote did not go in his favor.