Jennifer Bryson- Speaking Out Against Torture
From one of the the scholars I most admire. Takes the edge off of the blizzard!
I was with a wonderful group of colleagues at the Oxford Transitional Justice Research Center for the conference ” Ways of Knowing After Atrocity: A Colloquium on the Methods used to Research, Design and Implement Transitional Justice Processes.” I learned a great deal.
I also attach an article I wrote about Peru’s “War on Terror,” and its corrosive legacies on political life in Peru. Here is an excerpt, with full article attached in pdf.
My point? Everyone has human rights, which includes the right to be protected from torture, no matter how much we may condemn that individual’s politics. We may rightfully condemn someone’s actions, but no one has the right to torture another human being. We must be better than that. I believe fervently in that principle.
HISTORIES OF INNOCENCE: POST-WAR STORIES IN PERU
Chapter published in Localizing Transitional Justice, ed. Rosalind Shaw et al. Stanford University Press, 2010.
On November 1, 2006, Peruvian president Alan García announced he would be proposing a new law that would include the death penalty as one sanction for terrorism in the Penal Code. As he argued, “We are not going to allow Shining Path to return and paint their slogans on the walls of our universities. Once this law is approved, anyone who commits the serious crime of terrorism will find themselves facing a firing squad. A war forewarned does not kill people.”
As one might imagine, García’s comments sparked intense debate in Peru, a country in which a series of democratically elected governments waged a twenty-year war against terrorism. President García himself presided over one of those previous administrations from 1985-1990, and he would subsequently be named as one of the political leaders alleged to have abdicated democratic authority in an effort to finish terrorism by whatever means necessary.
In their 2003 Final Report, the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined that the country’s twenty-year war on terror resulted in the greatest loss of human life and resources in all of Peru’s history as a republic. However, listening to President García three years after the TRC completed its work, I did not hear Nunca Más; rather, his words provoked a disturbing sense of déjà vu.
In this chapter I want to reflect upon certain legacies of Peru’s war on terror — and to consider some of the legacies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was established to investigate that bloody period of violence, to determine responsibility for human rights violations, and to make recommendations that would promote “sustainable peace and national reconciliation.” I am motivated by three main concerns: What are the consequences of Peru’s war on terror, and how did these consequences inform both the truth the TRC was able to tell, as well as the “communal memory projects” people have forged in former Shining Path strongholds? How does the “logic of innocence” affect individuals, collectives, and political life following the internal armed conflict? As I will argue, the logic of innocence leaves corrosive legacies: This logic does not permit the construction of a more just society because if only the “innocent” have rights, then there will certainly be those who feel entitled to do whatever they want with the guilty. Finally, I consider the contentious politics of victimhood and reparations in post-truth commission Peru.