Honoring Torture Survivors

    “Amnesty International Tucson and Owl & Panther invite you to an event to acknowledge torture survivors on UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
    The event will begin with music and an acknowledgement of the close to 160 countries where torture has taken place. It will include stories of torture survivors, a short Academy Award-winning animated short from Chile, and the opportunity for attendees to participate in actions calling for the end of torture.Given the sensitive content, parental discretion is advised. Children’s arts activities will be offered in a separate area.The rise of violent extremism and unprecedented levels of forced displacement in our world demand a comprehensive response – and no aspect is more urgent than assisting the many victims of rising levels of torture that these and related trends generate. — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonWHO: Amnesty International Tucson is a chapter of Amnesty International, a global human rights organization with over 7 million members and supporters.

    Owl & Panther, a project of The Hopi Foundation, provides meaningful and healing expressive arts, trips into nature, and service-learning experiences for Tucson refugee children and families who have been impacted by trauma, torture, and traumatic dislocation. It also helps foster refugee acceptance through community education.

    The UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture was initiated in 1997. The UN cites torture as a crime under international law, absolutely prohibited regardless or whether or not a country has ratified international treaties in which torture is expressly forbidden. As such, systematic torture by a country is a crime against humanity.”

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    Carolyn Classen
    Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for Tucsoncitizen.com for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, www.southernazjapan.org (since Jan. 2013).


    1. Over 100 people in attendance at this event to honor torture survivors, hosted by Amnesty International (AI), & Owl & Panther Project. Info provided was that out of 160 countries surveyed in 2014-15 for human rights violations, 122 were involved, with ill treatment & torture. Richard from UN Assn. of Tucson spoke of the UN Convention Against Torture and their recently D.C. lobbying trip. The MC spoke of the of the decline in Americans believing that torture should “rarely/never to be used” (54 % to 15%), and the AI recent campaign to finally close Guatanamo Bay. Isabel Garcia (former Public Defender in Pima County) related stories of the Mexican drug cartel violence and abuse of migrants by US. Border Patrol agents. She said there is still a Missing Migrant Hotline, but that the press has recently ignored 11 deaths of migrants due to the heat. Chilean torture survivor (a desaparacedo) Leo Maturana showed a film entitled “Bear Story” about a father bear being taken by the police, beaten, sadly separated from his family. He also showed a film about making origami cranes (in memory of Sadako Sasaki) to honor torture victims under Pinoche’s reign of terror. Recent Spanish film “La Provedencia” from May 26, 2016 was also shown. Lastly Marge of Owl & Panther explained their program, funded by the Hopi Foundation, and young refugee Umu spoke of coming to America at age 5 and adjusting, through art therapy, meeting other asylum seekers. Call to Action including signing Amnesty International letters, writing letters of welcome to the Syrian (Muslim) family in Tucson who recently received a nasty “go home” letter on their apt. door.


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