"Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured." -- Hebrews 13:3
The Quaker Initiative to End Torture is a spiritual work to end the worst that humans do to one another. We hope the information and resources here will help you to join the efforts of many to end torture as a practice, a tradition, and a policy of governments. There is much good that needs doing. This work needs many good people to come forward with reverence to shed mercy and Light to all corners. A call for truth and a shared sense of humanity will move us further along. Ending torture is a good spiritual work to give yourself to. We welcome your donations and all efforts you can make locally.
We are pleased to be affirmed and endorsed by Friends across the country. Here are chronological endorsements from other organizations and Minutes of Support.
Friends World Committee for Consultation Triennial Meeting in 1976 Minute
While many monthly and yearly meetings have minuted their support of this conference, a foundational call to action is found in a statement by the Friends World Committee for Consultation Triennial Meeting in 1976.
It is a matter of grave anxiety that torture and secret imprisonment are being used by many governments, anti-government groups, and others to extract information, to suppress criticism, and to intimidate opposition, so that throughout the world countless numbers of men, women and children are suffering inhuman treatment. We believe in the worth of every individual as a child of God, and that no circumstances whatsoever can justify practices intended to break bodies, minds and spirits.
Both tortured and torturer are victims of the evil from which no human being is immune. Friends, however, believe that the life and power of God are greater than evil, and in that life and power declare their opposition to all torture. The Society calls on all its members, as well as those of all religious and other organizations, to create a force of public opinion which will oblige those responsible to dismantle everywhere the administrative apparatus which permits or encourages torture, and to observe effectively those international agreements under which its use is strictly forbidden.
South Central Yearly Meeting Minute
May 11, 2005
"South Central Yearly Meeting endorses the minute from Dallas Monthly Meeting in support of John Calvi's call for a conference on torture.
SCYM unites with John Calvi's concern that now is the time for the Religious Society of Friends to study the matter of torture, and how it is to be treated and prevented. As Friends we feel led to vigorously oppose the calculated brutality that is torture, and to reaffirm our belief in the dignity and precious worth of every human being.
We encourage FWCC to take a leadership role in bringing together Quakers and other interested parties for such a conference at the earliest possible moment."
Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Minute
July 30 2005
"Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) strongly supports the proposed Quaker conference focusing on our responsibility as Quakers to address the issue of torture from our spiritual center. We believe it important that all of us lend our voices to break the silence on this issue. Torture is abhorrent. Torture can never be excused or justified. We support John Calvi's leading to make this conference a reality. We endorse the goal to strengthen laws and policies banning torture. The rehabilitation of both victims and perpetrators must occur to stop the cycle of violence.
We know all of these represent mere actions unless accompanied by deep life changes. We ask that you hold us in the Light as we continue to seek our way for the Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). We will be holding you in the Light as well."
Baltimore Yearly Meeting Minute
"As Friends we abhor the torture and abuse of prisoners of any classification, in any place. We call upon all governments and combatants both to declare their rejection of torture and abuse and adhere strictly to the conventions for the humane treatment of all detainees.
We are also deeply dismayed by reports that our own government in recent years has acted in ways that legitimate such practices and make of them an example to others.
We are grateful for those prophetic voices speaking out on this urgent matter, and wish for more. We urge Friends to find ways take up such a witness, by public education and organized effort. In particular, we join those meetings, and Friends World Committee for Consultation, which have endorsed the call by Friend John Calvi of New England Yearly Meeting for a Quaker conference to seek ways that Friends can work actively for an end to torture everywhere."
Frederick MD Monthly Meeting Minute
"The Frederick Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is united on the following concern: It has become widely reported that the United States Armed Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency are subjecting captives, who are suspected terrorists, to physical and emotional torture. This is reportedly being done in places that are not United States soil, so the United States laws do not apply. In addition, some captives are being called combatants instead of soldiers in order to justify our government's circumvention of the Geneva conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war. We abhor torture and mistreatment of prisoners of any classification in any place. We must not sink to this level of inhumanity. William Penn said, A good end cannot sanctify evil means, nor must we ever do evil that good may come of it." If we want our country to be a shining example of morality and right use of power for the rest of the world, we must not mistreat prisoners nor send them to countries that engage in torture.
In addition to the above Minute on Torture, we in Frederick Monthly Meeting are led to take a further step. We think that the time has come for a public conference on torture. As stated by our Friend John Calvi of Putney, Vermont, Friends' history as a peaceloving people leads us to ask for such a conference."
Matinecock Monthly Meeting Minute, Locust Valley, NY
"The membership of the Meeting is appalled at the practice of torture by members of the United States armed forces and their surrogates on individuals held with or without charges in prisons. We, as members, pledge to bring this wrong to the attention of our Congressional representatives asking them to forbid its practice."
Medford Monthly Meeting, Medford, NJ
"Medford Monthly Meeting supports the Conference on Torture that will take place at Guilford College in June 2006. Sponsored by FWCC (Section of the Americas).
We believe that the use of torture by our government or any government is contrary to our testimonies and beliefs. We abhor the mistreatment and torture of any prisoners in our custody. This practice should arouse us to action as a society as once we were aroused by the evil of slavery."
New Brunswick Monthly Meeting, New Brunswick, NJ
"New Brunswick Monthly Meeting strongly supports the proposed Quaker conference, Quaker Initiative to End Torture to be held June 4, 2006 at Guilford College, focusing on our responsibility as Friends to address the issue of torture from our spiritual center. We believe it is important that all of us lend our voices to break the silence on this issue. We are deeply dismayed that recent actions of the United States government have served to legitimize practices of torture. Torture is abhorrent. It can never be excused or justified. The rehabilitation of both victims and perpetrators must occur to stop the cycle of violence. We endorse the goal of strengthening United States and international laws and policies banning torture."
Memphis Friends Meeting Minute, Memphis, TN
"Memphis Friends Meeting is saddened by the need to draft a minute condemning torture of prisoners by the government of the United States of America. We thought the occasion could not arise in a country dedicated to democracy, diversity, and equality, but it has. Unfortunately, fear of terrorists has convinced some that those charged with protecting our country are only doing what is necessary. We wish to state as clearly as we can that the use of torture has never been and never will be necessary for our security; on the contrary, it actually places us in greater jeopardy and any country that relies on torture for intelligence degrades itself. There is never justification to inflict what is intended as unendurable pain on a child of God. Quibbling over what does and does not constitute torture is deeply disturbing. Our government agencies and military must not train, must not order, and must not allow anyone to inflict pain or humiliation on any prisoner in our custody. Memphis Friends Meeting calls on all Americans and our elected representatives, including the President and his staff, to bring these shameful actions to an end."
Canadian Yearly Meeting Minute
"Minute 62 -- Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends supports the holding of a Quaker Initiative to End Torture conference in the spring of 2006. We request that Friends World Committee for Consultation support the conference financially and in any other way possible. We expect the conference to include presenters from as broad a base of others working on this issue as possible. We also urge Monthly Meetings and individual Friends to support the effort and to "hold this effort tenderly in their thoughts and prayers". We ask the clerk to send this minute to Friends World Committee for Consultation Section of the Americas. We encourage Canadian Friends to attend this conference, and to speak out against torture themselves. We acknowledge the tremendous amount of work that has been done on this concern by other organizations such as Amnesty International."
Oxford Friends Meeting Minute
"A Statement on the Disavowal of Torture We are deeply disturbed that leaders within our nation's government do not support Sen. John McCain's legislation, which publicly disavows our nation's use of torture anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances. Torture turns its face against the biblical truth that all humans are created in the image of God. As Quakers, we cannot support the use of torture. When we confront evil with its own means, those means mark our own character, both personal and national. In that regard, the practice of torture so fully embraces evil it dehumanizes both the torturer and its victim. No just cause can be won if it relies on torture to succeed. Democracy and freedom cannot result from a war fueled by torture. We call upon members of the House of Representatives to follow the lead of the Senate by approving the McCain amendment banning the use of torture by any entity of our government. We express our sorrow that our own Sen. Cochran did not support this amendment. Furthermore, we urge the President and all members of his administration to support this legislation by affirming America's long-standing commitment to refrain from the use of torture."
Pittsburgh Monthly Meeting Minute
August 2011, replacing minutes of February 2006
"Pittsburgh Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends joins with other Yearly and Monthly Meetings around the country and with the Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT) in condemning both the use of torture by our government and the practice of prolonged solitary confinement in our prisons.
As Quakers we acknowledge the light within us all, including the perpetrators and the victims of this evil practice. It is with great concern and sadness that we recognize that the use of torture has been tolerated and justified by many people in our country. As Friends we are called on to witness strongly against this evil."
"Remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured as though you yourselves were being tortured." Hebrews 13:3 (NRSV)
"These words from Hebrews, and our 350 years of Quaker commitment to witness prophetically against injustices, remind us of our responsibility to speak out against the continued use of torture by our government and in our prisons.
At the beginning of his term as President, Barack Obama made a strong commitment to abolish the use of torture by our government and to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, but we have seen a gradual turning away from this commitment. We know that injustices are still being carried out in the form of torture in places like Bagram in Afghanistan. Guantanamo is still open with 172 prisoners still incarcerated, some already declared innocent, and many of them have still not been brought to trial. No one has been held accountable for allowing the use of torture that was practiced in places like Guantanamo.
We are also concerned about the expanded use of solitary confinement in our country, especially in maximum security prisons where many prisoners are kept in isolation 23 hours a day, sometimes for decades. The prolonged use of solitary confinement has been proven to have severe impact on prisonersÕ mental health and is understood by many in the mental health world to be a form of torture.
We resonate with this call for action from Friends World Committee in 1976:
"The Society calls on all its members, as well as those of all religious and other organizations, to create a force of public opinion which will oblige those responsible to dismantle everywhere the administrative apparatus which permits or encourages torture, and to observe effectively those international agreements under which its use is strictly forbidden."
Friends World Committee for Consultation Triennial Meeting in 1976 MINUTE
West Hill Friends Church, Portland OR, Northwest YM [EFI]
"As Christians and members of West Hills Friends Church (Quaker), we embrace the ancient teaching of Scripture, "And God said, Let us make the human being in our image, after our likeness."(Genesis 1:26) Our spiritual forefathers and mothers taught us about "that of God" in every person and of the "light of Christ within" that illumines our lives and directs our actions. Jesus Christ showed us this light in his earthly life and taught us the way of peace as children of God. His valuing of persons, both high and lowly and his call to us to live as children of the kingdom of light, cause us to speak out against recent, and perhaps ongoing torture practices by our country.
Along with many others, we are shocked, revolted and saddened by our government's use of torture in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, despite constitutional and Supreme Court precedents that have historically denounced physical and psychological cruelty. We see these practices as characteristic, not of this nation, but of those repressive and totalitarian regimes that we have historically criticized, judged deficient, and often sanctioned. The Geneva Conventions, considered to be the standard of civilized conduct for nations who respect human dignity, have been denigrated, denied and ignored by leaders of our nation.
We believe that torture can never be justified as a means of control or extracting information from those deemed enemies. Torture dehumanizes its victims, obliterating the image of God in those who are tortured, and thus insulting the Creator of us all. Perpetrators, in their blindness to the humanity of those they torture, become inflictors of unbearable humiliation and pain. Thus torture, by its barbaric practices and disregard for the dignity of fellow human beings, steals the humanity of tortured and torturer alike.
We now call on our government leaders, including the executive branch, to acknowledge the wrong and inhumane treatment of prisoners during recent years and to uphold in both word and deed the McCain Amendment to the Budget Bill recently passed by the U. S. Senate. Further we ask that these words of William Penn (1683) be the norm for further actions by government and individuals alike: "A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil that good may come of it…Let us then try what Love may do."
Boulder Monthly Meeting, Boulder, Colorado
"Boulder Friends warmly endorse John Calvi's commitment to challenge the practice of torture both by the US government and throughout the world. We share his conviction that torture is an absolute evil in any form and at any time, whatever its goals and whoever perpetrates it. But we also share his understanding that even those opposed to it must try to grasp not only why it is so often inflicted on fellow beings, but in what its peculiar evil consists. As George Fox urged us by his testimony and example, in trying to answer to that of God in everyone, we must also try to understand their motives and perceptions; only thus can we hope to take away the occasion for cruelty and violence. Boulder Friends are thus grateful not only for John's witness against torture, but for organizing a conference that aims to hold it in the light of loving insight as well as outrage and resistance.
In lending their support to John and to all those who will participate in the conference, Boulder Friends further wish to note that Joanne Cowan, a beloved member of our Meeting, will not be able to attend as she had planned. On the 11th day of the fourth month, she will present herself to federal authorities in order to begin a 60-day sentence for having 'crossed the line' in protest at the School of the Americas in Georgia. But though her emprisonment prevents her from lending her light and voice to John's conference, she will be there in spirit, as will all of her loving Friends in Boulder."
Friends Meeting of Washington, Peace and Social Concerns
4/06-13 Proposed Minute on Torture: Kimberly Crichton, member of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, presented a minute on torture proposed for adoption by the Friends Meeting of Washington. She noted the appropriateness of discussing such a minute on Palm Sunday. Friends discussed our opposition to rendition and threats of rendition of prisoners and those accused of crimes to countries where prisoners may be tortured by other governments. Another Friend spoke to her concern for those practicing torture as well as the prisoners. A question was raised about the merits of including specific terms describing types of torture in the minute; the rationale for including them is they refer to specific forms of torture discussed in U.S. governmental memoranda. A Friend spoke of our historical concern about the torture of prisoners, dating back to the imprisonment of Friends in 17th century England.
After making small edits, Friends APPROVED the following minute: Friends Meeting of Washington reaffirms its belief in the Light of God in every person. This belief, our historical experience, and our testimonies of peace, justice, and equality lead us to condemn torture for any purpose, including the furtherance of the objectives of war. Torture by any means, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, loud music that is culturally offensive, extended isolation, or by taking relatives as hostages, is immoral. The government of a conscientious people must cease practicing torture directly upon prisoners in detention centers such as Guantanamo and in secret black sites and indirectly through rendition or threat of rendition to countries where prisoners may be tortured by foreign governments. A Friend suggested that Committees circulate drafts of minutes such as these to the Meeting community through the newsletter and other means prior to bringing them the Meeting for Business, when time permits.
Friends World Committee for Consultation Section of the Americas
Minute FWA06-8 approved at Annual Meeting 2006 in Chiquimula, Guatemala
In 1976, FWCC in a minute of concern addressed the grave anxiety created by the increase in the use of torture and imprisonment by government and anti-government groups around the world. Sadly, today, FWCC Section of the Americas feels led to again minute our deepest concerns at the continued inhumane treatment of prisoners. Increasingly, we are seeing a legitimacy attached to the use of injustice and brutality that is reflected in an escalation in the use of torture in prisons, the holding of prisoners without access to courts for as many as three years, the establishment of secret prisons, and the institutionalized training in techniques of torture in places such as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Strategic Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas). The Geneva Convention, which once seemed to have attained the status of settled law worldwide, is being violated, and the perpetrators of inhumane treatment are not being held accountable.
As Friends, we believe in the sacredness of each person. It is the belief in a divinely mandated call to honor the inherent worth of each individual that has allowed Friends to persevere in lengthy struggles against the great evils of the past and present – slavery, religious persecution, and oppression of those at the margins of society. At great cost, Friends have witnessed prophetically against injustice for more than 350 years.
We now call on Friends everywhere to raise our voices once again against a malevolent darkness that is spreading throughout our world – to join together with all people of faith and conscience in calling on our governments to banish forever the use of torture in any form.
Morningside Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) joins with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture in our belief that torture is a moral issue. We condemn the use of torture for any purpose, either to further the objectives of war or to prevent terrorism. War and terrorism inspire fear, but retaliation and torture do not prevent them. Torture by any means, whether direct or by proxy, is immoral. Torture destroys the humanity of the tortured, the torturer and those who have knowledge of it. It fails to defend the sanctity of life.
Civilized nations agree that these techniques are immoral. As Friends with commitment to integrity, we call on the United States to honor its treaty obligations to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, their 1977 Protocols, and the UN Convention against Torture. By not honoring these agreements, we endanger our own soldiers and civil society itself; according to military leaders, torture does not lead to accurate information. Failing to maintain our integrity as a nation destroys trust and undermines our ability to lead effectively.
We agree with William Penn, Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, who once said, ? A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil that good may come of it.? Let the United States abolish its use of torture now.
Akron Monthly Meeting
A Minute of Concern and Alarm:
We the members of the Akron Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) are opposed to any form of torture for any reason. Affirming our belief in that of God in every person, we remember the words of Jesus, " What you do unto the least of these, you do unto me." It hurts us individually and as a nation to turn our backs while these atrocities are carried out under the guise of our protection or "safety" from terrorists. Just as war is an ineffective means to peace, this particular instrument of warfare is an unconscionable form of terror in the hands of our military or its contractors.
Beyond invoking those religious and moral principles, we also know that torture violates international law. Reports continue to reach us of incidents that follow a disturbing pattern. These actions speak louder than our government leaders' words of denial. The following two paragraphs are quoted from a letter we received this week from Kimberly Crichton, Clerk, the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, Friends Meeting of Washington (Washington, D.C):
"A blanket denial 'we do not torture' can be refuted with a single case: Iraqi Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush was beaten to death over a period of approximately twenty days first by 'Scorpions' at a CIA 'Black site' then by US military personnel going to and within Abu Ghraib. He was hung in a 'stress position' despite complaining of difficulty breathing. He was then thrown into a bag, kicked and sat upon by U.S. Personnel. His cause of death has been various reported, but probably he suffocated. Further, Major General Mowhoush was not captured on the battlefield; he surrendered because his teenage sons had been taken hostage by U.S. Military personnel and their mother told they would be killed if their father did not turn himself in. Though Major General Mowhoush did surrender, his sons were beaten, doused with water at night, and left naked."
"All of these actions -- taking hostages, holding ghost prisoners, beating, subjecting to freezing, stress positions which cause suffocation -- violate the Geneva Conventions. No commander or general, no Secretary of Defense or Senator who chairs an Armed Forces Committee has been fired or voted out or prosecuted for torture. In fact, the recent 'war on terror' legislation immunizes CIA interrogators and military personnel who have participated in such acts."
We implore all of our representatives, elected officials, and personnel in the field, whether military or employed by the C.I.A. to take a clear stand against all forms of torture. We must speak out again and again for the truth that makes all free.
Adele Looney, Clerk, Akron Friends Meeting, Akron, Ohio
Nashville (TN) Monthly Meeting
The Nashville (TN) Monthly Meeting endorses the Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT). The Meeting reaffirms its belief in the Light of God in every person. As Friends we abhor the use of torture and abuse of anyone, prisoner or other. We are committed to end our government's authorized inhumane treatment of human beings. We are called to confront the cruelty of torture and remind ourselves of Jesus's message of love. Torture steals the humanity of tortured and torturer alike and can never be justified. A good end cannot ever justify an evil means. As Friends, we must stand up and oppose the practice of torture and reaffirm humane treatment of all people.
We also budgeted a donation to QUIT for 2007. At this point, three of our members are hoping to attend the second QUIT conference.
Polly Coe, Clerk, Peace and Social Concerns Committee
South Starksboro Monthly meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in South Starksboro, Vermont
The following minute was approved at a meeting for worship with a concern for business of the South Starksboro Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) on October 22, 2006:
The South Starksboro Monthly meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in South Starksboro, Vermont, unites with all people of ethical or religious faith to affirm that torture is always wrong? in all circumstances, by any means, and to whatever end. We believe in that of God in each person, in the sanctity of life, and in the humane treatment of all.
We call upon all those in positions of power to cease and abstain from this evil practice without delay. We hold in the Light all those who have participated in and continue to practice this grave moral and spiritual injury, as well as those who have been the victims.
Nothing less is at stake than the very soul of our nation. Let the United States of America abolish torture now? without exceptions.
Minute Approved by New England Yearly Meeting at annual sessions
August 9, 2006
New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends finds torture immoral, illegal, and abhorrent. Torture- in wars, in prisons, and in homes steals the humanity of the tortured, the torturer, and those who have knowledge of it.
We believe in the sanctity of life, a faith that arises from our experience that there is that of God in everyone. This Light helps us to see our face in the stranger¹s face. Fear and denial cause us to forget our deep connections with one another. Only when we are willing to surrender to the Light, individually and corporately, can we eliminate the roots of torture.
New England Yearly Meeting calls upon members and monthly meetings to seek Light and act to end torture.
Minute Approved by Wilmington Friends Meeting
February 18, 2007
Recognizing that of God in every person, we condemn the use of torture for every purpose. War and terrorism inspire fear, but retaliation and torture do not prevent war or fear or accomplish a positive end. Torture, by any means, whether direct or by proxy, is immoral. Torture demeans the humanity of the tortured, the torturer and those who have knowledge of it. It fails to defend the sanctity of life.
Minute Approved by Salt Lake Monthly Meeting
Salt Lake Monthly Meeting joins Friends in other Meetings in providing a minute of support for Friends? active witness in the effort to end the use of torture in any form. Our Meeting condemns the use of torture for any reason.
Torture demeans and destroys the humanity of the torturer, the tortured, and all others who are associated, directly or indirectly. Torture does not further the ends of reconciliation. Consent to the use of torture by any means, by anyone, is immoral. Torture denies the sanctity of life, and violates our belief that there is that of God in everyone.
The Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT) conference is a beginning step towards the end of torture. Salt Lake Monthly Meeting will provide support in the ways that we are able, and hold this initiative in the Light.
Minute Approved by Sacramento Monthly Meeting
The Sacramento Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) utterly opposes the practice of any kind of purposeful harm, torment, or torture on any person for any purpose or reason whatsoever.
The Sacramento Friends Meeting stands united in moral opposition against the policies and actions of the United States government regarding torture. The United States government has sought to redefine torture to make its practice and the evidence gained thereby admissible in courts. The United States government has utilized extraordinary rendition, has fearfully compromised the integrity of United States law, due process, and habeas corpus, and has sought to compromise international agreements through its ? clarifications? and modifications of the Geneva Convention.
The Sacramento Friends Meeting supports its members, Quakers worldwide, and other like-minded organizations seeking to raise awareness of policies and practices and to convince the United States government to lay down the use of torture by itself and all its agents.
Minute Approved by Schuylkill Friends Monthly Meeting
Recognizing that of God in every person, we condemn the use of torture for any purpose. War and terrorism inspire fear, but retaliation and torture do not prevent them. Torture by any means, whether direct or by proxy, is immoral. Torture demeans the humanity of the tortured, the torturer and those who have knowledge of it. It fails to defend the sanctity of life.
We agree with William Penn, Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, who wrote, A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil that good may come of it. Let the United States abolish its use of torture now.
Pima Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
931 N. 5th Avenue, Tucson, AZ. 85705
To Those Who Represent our Nation and Friends Everywhere,
Pima Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends utterly denounces all forms of torture and inhumane treatment for any purpose, at anytime and by any group of people. Torture is an instrument of human degradation and dehumanization of both the victim and the perpetrator and our concern and love go out to both. Instead of recognizing the sacredness of each human being as a child of God, torture violates the basic principle of dignity that people of all faiths hold dear.
Because of the essential corrupting nature of torture, anyone who tortures others in the name of our country is essentially destroying our country, not protecting it. For by torturing, we become in a sense what we hate most, losing the struggle, surrendering to the evil we say we abhor.
By answering that of God in everyone we hold in the light not only the victims, but those individuals and countries, including our own, which have participated in and continue to practice torture. We hold ourselves and our nation accountable for the torture and inhumane behaviors administered in our nation's name and ask forgiveness for us both.
In 1949 the United States adopted the Geneva Convention as the law of the land. It reads: "… the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at anytime and in any place whatsoever…Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture…Outrages upon personal dignity in particular humiliating and degrading treatment…" On July 20th, the White House issued an executive order (number 13440), giving their interpretation of the Geneva Convention as applied to the CIA's controversial interrogation program. This order does nothing to reconcile our nation's duty to international law. We call on Congress to prohibit the use of any funds for activities that fail to treat all persons with dignity and the protection of due process.
Members of Pima Meeting have participated with our local community to witness at Fort Benning, Ga. and Fort Huachuca, Az. to protest programs that have trained people who have used torture. We add our voices to all those speaking Truth to Power and call on all people to hold those in government accountable for violations of the Geneva Convention.
Fayetteville (NC) Friends Meeting's Minute on Torture
"Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured."
Hebrews 13:3 NRSV (New Revised Standard Version)
Recognizing that of God in every person, we condemn the use of torture for any purpose by any person, group, or government. Torture by any means is immoral. It debases the humanity of the tortured, the torturer, and those who have knowledge of it.
For Fayetteville, NC Monthly Meeting, torture is not a distant issue. We are located near a major hub of a growing international torture complex. Hundreds of torture flights have taken off nearby; training for the brutal techniques takes place in the region at secretive military and other facilities. Our public officials have ignored protests.
The acceptance of torture is making our society an international pariah. We appeal to Friends and others everywhere to take up this concern and follow it through. Let us bear down into the work of bringing this immoral practice into the Light. Let us do all we can to bring about the day when torture is banished from our country and from our planet.
Durham Monthly Meeting, Durham NC.
Minute of Concern about Torture and Support of QUIT.
(Approved by Durham Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends December 9 2007.)
Durham Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is in unity on the following concern. We as Friends reaffirm our belief of that of God in everyone and abhor the torture and abuse of any people, whether prisoners, combatants or others, for any reason and in any place. We believe that torture degrades the humanity of the torturers and the moral authority of governments that pursue it. We call upon our government to reject such torture and abuse and to adhere to all international conventions regarding the human rights of detainees. We are grateful to those whose voices have been raised to call to account those actions of our government that are permitting or encouraging torture, inhuman treatment or secret imprisonment, whether in this country or another. We join with others in strongly supporting the Quaker Initiative to End Torture and the ongoing work of Friends who are working to end torture everywhere.
Crosswicks Monthly Meeting, Burlington Quarter
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting on 6th day, 1st month, 2008
Torture is widely recognized as a human rights violation, and is well-defined by such organizations as the United Nations and Amnesty International. Recognizing that of God in every person, we condemn the use of torture for any purpose. Torture by any means--whether direct or by proxy--is immoral. Torture demeans the humanity of the tortured, their torturer, and those who have knowledge of it.
We agree with William Penn, Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, who wrote, "A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil that good may come of it." Let the United States abolish its use of torture now.
Specifically, we call upon PYM to express our strong opposition to the President and Congress to abolish torture, and the heinous practice of extraordinary rendition, and to conform to international human rights guidelines.
We encourage Monthly Meetings to support this minute, and encourage them to contact members of Congress and those in the Executive Branch about this concern, and to make strong statements in their respective local media.
We ask PYM-FCNL to develop materials for Monthly Meetings (or share materials developed by others) for both study and action in order to work toward the elimination of torture.
Manasquan Monthly Meeting
March 16, 2008
Minute against torture
Manasquan Friends Meeting is saddened by the need to draft a minute condemning torture by the US Government. We as Friends reaffirm our belief of Òthat of God in everyoneÓ and abhor the torture and abuse of any people, for any reason and in any place. We join other Meetings in support for FriendsÕ active witness in the effort to end the use of torture.
We believe torture can never be justified as a means of control or of extracting information from those deemed enemies. Torture demeans the humanity of the torturer, the tortured and all the others who are associated, directly or indirectly. It degrades the moral authority of governments that pursue it.
Our government agencies and military must not train, must not order, and must not allow anyone to inflict pain or humiliation on any prisoner.
The Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT) is a step toward the end of torture as policy. Manasquan Meeting will hold this Initiative in the Light.
Lake Erie Yearly Meeting
Lake Erie Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends joins with Yearly Meetings around the United States of America and with the Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT) in condemning the use of torture by our government, including the practice of prolonged solitary confinement.
"Remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them, those who are being tortured as though you yourselves were being tortured." Hebrews 13:3 (NSRV) These words from Scripture, and our years of Quaker commitment to witness prophetically against injustices, remind us of our responsibility to speak out against the continued use of torture in government sponsored public, private and secret prisons and detention facilities."
It is with great concern and sadness that we recognize that the use of torture has been tolerated and justified by many people in our country. We are also concerned about the expanded use of solitary confinement. Many people in prison are kept in isolation 23 hours a day, sometimes for decades. The prolonged use of solitary confinement has been proven to have a severe impact on the mental health of those in prison and to impede their eventual reintegration into society. Our care is not only for the victims of torture in any of its forms but also for the individuals and institutions carrying out these practices.
Lake Erie Yearly Meeting asks its member Meetings to inform themselves on this matter and to discern how they are led to respond. Possible contacts for information:
Quaker Initiative to end Torture
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Pacific Yearly Meeting Minute on Torture
As Friends, we stand firmly opposed to torture committed by anyone in any setting. We support the work of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture as well as of Quakers Initiative to End Torture. We call on our elected officials to bring to justice those who have authorized torture in violation of international law. We want our government to stop preventing the victims of state-sponsored torture from seeking redress and just compensation in US courts. We are also deeply concerned that cruel and inhumane punishment such as involuntary long-term solitary confinement are taking place in prisons in California and throughout the USA and the world. Finally, we support the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), which can help prevent torture and abuse by requiring a ratifying country to establish National Preventative Mechanisms (NPMs) to monitor the treatment of prisoners. In addition to the NPMs, OPCAT allows for international oversight of places of confinement to ensure that torture and other abuses are not occurring.
As Quakers, we feel that torture is a moral and religious issue. We believe that there is "that of God" in every human being and therefore everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Torture does incalculable and long-lasting damage to both the torturer and the torture victim. Torture erodes a nation's moral fiber, diminishes its moral standing in the world, incites retaliation, and puts at risk the lives of its citizens abroad and at home.
We want this practice to end.
Translation by Browen Hillman, Mexico City:
Como Amigos, declaramos nuestra postura firmamente en contra de la tortura realizada por cualquier persona bajo cualesquieras circunstancias. Apoyamos los esfuerzos de las organizaciones estadounidenses «National Religious Campaign Against Torture» y «Quakers Initiative to End Torture». Llamamos a nuestros delegados para hacerles responsables por sus acciones quienes hayan autorizado el uso de la tortura en violación al derecho internacional. Queremos que nuestro gobierno deje de impedir a las victimas de la tortura endosada por el estado en su búsqueda por una indemnificación y respuesta justa frente a los tribunales locales. También tenemos una preocupación profunda sobre la práctica de castigos crueles e inhumanos como la encarcelación solitaria de largo plazo en los centros carcelarios tanto en el estado de California como en los demás estados y alrededor del mundo. Por último, apoyamos al Protocolo Optativo para la Resolución en Contra de la Tortura (OPCAT por sus siglas en inglés), lo cual puede ayudar con la prevención de la tortura y el abuso al requerir a los paéses firmantes implementar a Mecanismos Preventivos Nacionales (los NPM por sus siglas en inglés) para monitorear el tratamiento de los encarcelados. Además a los NPM, la OPCAT contempla la supervisión internacional para lugares de encarcelamiento para asegurar que no esté presente ni la práctica de la tortura ni abusos.
Como Amigos, es nuestro sentir que la tortura es un asunto ambos moral y religioso. Creemos que existe «este de Dios» en cada persona y por lo tanto todos merecen ser tratados con respeto y de manera digna. La tortura causa da--os insuperables y de largo plazo tanto para la victima como para el que aplica la tortura. La tortura afecta el contexto moral del país, su prestigio entre la comunidad internacional, incita las represalias y pone en riesgo las vidas de sus cuidadanos tanto en el país como en el extranjero.
Queremos eliminar esta práctica.
Who's Behind QUIT?
Meet some of the friends and witnesses who make QUIT possible
Scilla Wahrhaftig has a long history of Quaker activism, in England, Zimbabwe and the US. She is presently retired from her position as Program Director for the American Friends Service Committee Pennsylvania Office (a Quaker organization that works world-wide on peace and justice issues). One of the main areas of her work with AFSC was US sponsored torture and prolonged isolation in prisons. She is continuing the work on torture focusing on the issue of solitary confinement in US Prisons.
Chuck Fager retired in late 2012 as Director of Quaker House in Fayetteville-Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Beginning in 2006, he has worked to bring to light and accountability the many cogs in the machinery of the US torture complex in that region. He wrote and QUIT published a pamphlet, "Patience and Determination," outlining the tasks and strategic outlines for work to end torture.
John Calvi is the founding convener of The Quaker Initiative to End Torture – QUIT! John began his work with torture survivors in 1982 as a massage therapist and Quaker healer. He is the author of “The Dance Between Hope & Fear” and "How Far Have You Traveled?"