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.
Today, we express our deepest solidarity with all torture survivors, their families and their communities throughout the world,”
Dr. Simon Adams, CVT president and CEO, said in a call for solidarity and action for survivors on the UN Int’l Day in Support of Victims of Torture. “Our message and mandate remain the same: We will continue to work with those who have endured the unimaginable, and we will continue to speak out against the unspeakable, until the last dungeon is empty and the last torturer faces justice.” Read his full message here.
Dabat, Amhara, Ethiopia
The CVT Dabat team held two separate events to honor June 26. They started off in advance of the UN day by hosting a panel discussion at the Amhara Dabat Healing Center on the 22nd of June. The panel brought attention to the upcoming day, with more than 50 people attending, and participation by refugee representatives, partner agencies, local government representatives, UN agencies and officials from the Refugee and Returnees services. See photos from the event here.
“Because the victims in these situations are often swept aside, this day is dedicated to them,” noted the team as they held a march on the 26th in the Alemwach camp, sharing information and messages of support with the community. The march led to an event led by CVT, with participation from religious leaders, officials from the camp and survivors giving testimony and sharing the word about torture. There were question and answer sessions as well as poetry, music and dance. Read about the team’s events here and see additional images here.
“There is light despite all the darkness,” wrote Akim, counselor at CVT Ethiopia-Gambella, as the team shared messages of support and solidarity with survivors in honor of June 26. “There are tremendous resources within us; let’s use them to transform ourselves, others, and the world,” wrote Temesgen Melaku, counselor, as part of the team’s messages. “I am standing with torture survivors worldwide to rebuild their hope and treat them with respect and dignity, regardless of their age, sex, gender, background or race,” wrote Gnuon, counseling supervisor, CVT Gambella. Read all the messages here.
The CVT Ethiopia team in Tigray commemorated June 26 with events and discussions in support of survivors. With the theme, “Hope brings strength and moves mountains,” the team hosted coffee corner discussions, a community event, competitions and education sessions. The team has worked tirelessly and expanded the work in the region in the aftermath of recent violent conflict, and they found that, “As the events of the day concluded, the laughter, huge rounds of applause, and the active engagement of the community showed a glimpse of hope for recovery.” Read the full article here.
Side Event at Human Rights Council to Support Rehabilitation for Survivors of Torture
In honor of the UN Int’l Day in Support of Victims of Torture, a side event was held at the Human Rights Council, hosted by CVT, the United States, Denmark and Peru. Scott Roehm, CVT Washington director, moderated a conversation about the importance of rehabilitation for survivors and commitment to supporting funding. The side event was titled, “Transitioning from Horror to Healing: Preventing Torture and Helping Survivors Rebuild Their Lives,” and it was very well attended and met with confirmation of increased support for the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. Check out photos from the event here.
June 26 was a day full of education, food, music and comradery at CVT Georgia. The team was joined by the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN), elected officials, funders, the Georgia Advisory Council and other partners for an event in honor of the day. The audience heard a moving speech from Léonce Byimana, director of U.S. clinical programs, learned more about CVT’s services and received an overview on the asylum process from GAIN.
Four CVT Georgia clients shared their experiences of torture and harrowing journeys to the U.S., the prolonged legal processes they endured and the unique barriers asylum seekers in Georgia face. The Georgia team also held space for a client-only event in the afternoon, leaving time for the CVT staff, clients and families to create music and fellowship together. See photos from the day here.
CVT 2023 Eclipse Award and Courageous Voices Event
The CVT Development team hosted a virtual event called “Courageous Voices, Unbreakable Spirits” to honor the voices of survivors and present the annual Eclipse Award for outstanding work done on behalf of survivors. A special guest appearance was made by noted actors and human rights activists Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn Grody, and people tuned in from global locations. The Eclipse Award went to three members of the office of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin, in recognition of their investigations into war crimes, including many cases of torture, perpetrated by Russian occupation forces. Recipients included Spartak Borysenko, Anna Sosonska and Roman Tysb. “These individuals exemplify tenacity and have displayed unwavering courage. Every day they are working to uphold the human rights of their fellow citizens who have been tortured,” said Simon Adams. Read the release here.
St. Paul Healing Center, Minnesota
Community, sharing and commemoration. A special event for Int’l Day in Support of Victims of Torture was held at CVT’s St. Paul Healing Center, featuring speeches about the importance of the day and sharing information about healing and care. Guests tied bracelets for each other, symbolizing strength and connectedness, and there were beautiful flowers and delicious food! Check out photos here.