June 26 | Center for Victims of Torture

June 26

June 26 is recognized internationally as United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this day in 1987, the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment went into effect.  Every year, CVT commemorates the day with special events to recommit ourselves to heal survivors and end torture.

26 June 2020

ETHIOPIA

Gambella

At CVT in Gambella, members of CVT’s refugee staff shared sensitization and psychoeducation messages using megaphones as they either rode CVT bicycles or walked through the camp. Teams also put up posters displaying messages of survival in the face of torture and advocating against torture. A local song was also developed emphasizing strength and life after torture. The song was recorded by a refugee singer and broadcast over a large speaker from a CVT vehicle as it drove through the camp. The letter to survivors and their communities from Curt Goering, CVT executive director, was also broadcast through the camp.

Tigray

CVT Ethiopia – Tigray heralded 26 June by designing 26 days of recognition for survivors of torture. Their celebration included delivering sensitization and psychoeducation announcements, daily quotes related to overcoming torture and survival, and songs related to strength and survival via the camp radio station. A letter from CVT’s Executive Director, Curt Goering, honoring 26 June and written to survivors and their communities, was also shared via the camp radio station, along with the winning poems from a poetry contest about overcoming torture and a radio drama.

The CVT Ethiopia – Tigray teams also created and distributed brochures describing the psychological, social, physical and spiritual impacts of torture; how to recognize signs and symptoms of distress resulting from torture and trauma; and where to access help. Banners with messages about overcoming torture were displayed throughout the community, and face masks with “Say NO to Torture” in the local language were distributed to the local refugee associations, with priority given to vulnerable populations.

JORDAN

CVT Jordan hosted an online discussion on July 5, “The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Torture and War Trauma Survivors’ Wellbeing,” attended by 65 participants from NGOs, universities and UN agencies in the MENA region. Speakers from fellow NGOs joined keynote speakers from CVT Jordan, and Moath Asfoor, CVT Jordan’s senior manager for program development, moderated the discussion. The Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD) covered the webinar for their “With Refugees” online magazine, and posted their article here. Salwa Al-Haj Saeed, outreach worker with CVT Jordan, was a guest on the “With Refugees” radio program on Farah Al-Nas Radio, where she discussed the online event and CVT’s healing work.

CVT Jordan’s teams came together to create handmade bracelets with supportive messages for clients and presented these together with face masks bearing the CVT logo. The June 26 committee also distributed thank you gifts to CVT Jordan staff members, including face masks and self-care items. The entrance to the CVT Jordan office was also decorated with artwork and supportive messages reflecting CVT’s mission and values.

KENYA

Dadaab 

CVT Dadaab worked with Radio Gargar to share messages in honor of 26 June. Our CVT colleagues developed the messages, translated them into the local language, and pre-recorded the messages for airing during the prime times of 9 and 10 a.m. on June 25 and 26. Radio Gargar covers all three refugee camps (IFO, Dagahaley and Hagardera) and surrounding host community of Dadaab, Fafi and Wajir south sub-counties.

CVT Dadaab also engaged with Film Aid, an international organization based in Dadaab that has platforms for bulk SMS messaging. Messages were developed, translated into local languages registered in the camps, and passed on to refugee populations on June 26. Messages of hope and solidarity were also shared among staff via WhatsApp. And to make the day more colorful, CVT Dadaab procured materials including t-shirts, shawls, banners, posters and more with CVT logos and messages commemorating June 26.  

Kakuma

CVT in Kakuma joined the global commemoration of June 26 with two main events: a radio show on Radio Atanayeche in Kakuma, and a road show through Kalobeyei Village 1, 2 and 3. The Kakuma team also participated in a social media campaign in support of victims of torture as well through posts on various platforms including WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. Physiotherapist Trainer Joseph Wesonga submitted content for the social media campaign about CVT’s rehabilitation work for victims of torture in Kakuma.

The radio show on Radio Atanayeche and the road show through Kalobeyei Village were both a big success. The 30-minute radio show was presented in the studio by CVT’s Teresa Longole, psychosocial counselor, following a script prepared by CVT team members. The script guided both the conversation during the radio show and the messages delivered to the community in the road show as well. The road show was executed by CVT’s Akilimali Miderho and Augustine Nadolo, psychosocial counselors, and David Atuko, a CVT driver.

Nairobi

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CVT Nairobi commemorated this year’s event in new ways. Technology played a big part in this year’s event. CVT Nairobi’s teams sent messages of hope — in both English and Kiswahili — to 4,097 former clients, partners and staff through bulk SMS messaging. Messages of hope were also shared on CVT’s social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

CVT Nairobi’s healing work was featured on local TV station KTN, on their 9 p.m. prime-time news. Three Congolese survivors, with their faces obscured and using pseudonyms, spoke with journalist Rebecca Muiruri about their personal stories as survivors and the impact that CVT has had on their lives. CVT Nairobi’s Nimo Khalif, operations coordinator, also spoke on-camera about CVT’s rehabilitative care and the importance of showing solidarity with survivors for 26 June.

UGANDA

In honor of 26 June, two of our colleagues with CVT Uganda – Gulu, Ben Lakony, counseling supervisor, and Margaret Juliet Lapyem, psychosocial counselor, hosted a radio talk show on MEGA FM Uganda. The talk show—conducted in both Acholi and English—was interactive, with listeners calling in to ask questions about CVT’s healing work and to express appreciation for CVT’s tremendous service to the communities of Ugandans and South Sudanese in Uganda. Margaret and Ben provided insight into CVT’s healing work with torture survivors, discussed what torture is, the impact of trauma, and more. And, the IRCT posted a video on Twitter, featuring Margaret.

Francis K. Rogers, country director, CVT Uganda, published this article titled “CVT Commemorates June 26, International Day in Support of Victims of Torture,” in the New Vision newspaper. CVT Uganda also created and ran a jingle on MEGA FM Radio and Radio Rupiny, to both raise awareness of torture and the mental health impact on victims and to call for national and community action.

UNITED STATES

Atlanta

In honor of 26 June, the team at CVT Georgia assembled care packages for 25 clients and their families. Since staff cannot meet with clients in person during the pandemic, the care packages offered an opportunity to show our clients that they are in our thoughts and to honor all torture survivors on this important day. The packages were brimming with heartfelt messages from staff and guidance for staying healthy and safe during the pandemic: both the staff messages and the COVID guidance were drafted in the languages spoken by our CVT Georgia clients; Arabic, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili and Tigrinya.  Also included were volunteer-made face masks, hand sanitizer and bracelets in CVT’s colors. The response from clients was enthusiastic, some saying this was their first cloth mask, or that the timing of the care package was perfect as it met an immediate need.

St. Paul

The caring staff at CVT’s St. Paul Healing Center found a new way to connect with clients during the pandemic. The team honored survivors for 26 June by sending cards with statements of encouragement to our Minnesota clients, accompanied by colorful bracelets and face masks.

CVT’s St. Paul headquarters participated in the 26 June celebration with an award ceremony! Every year for June 26, CVT presents the Eclipse Award to an individual or organization that has played a crucial role in ending torture or in extending care and rehabilitation to torture survivors. This year, we honored Dr. Heval Kelli, announcing the award in a news release. Dr. Kelli, a Katz Foundation Fellow in Preventive Cardiology at Emory University School of Medicine and a Syrian Kurdish refugee, accepted the Eclipse Award in a celebratory virtual ceremony.

Washington, D.C. 

CVT’s Policy team marked June 26 through the written word. Scott Roehm, director of CVT’s Washington, D.C., office, joined Juan E. Méndez, professor of human rights law in residence at the American University – Washington College of Law and CVT National Advisory Council member, and Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, in penning an article published to Just Security, “Crises of Accountability for U.S. Systemic Abuses of Power.” CVT also posted a statement from Andrea Cárcamo, CVT senior policy counsel, in response to the egregious asylum rules posted in the Federal Register.

 

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