Friday, April 23, 2010

Interrogating a Torturer

I just watched this powerful documentary on Al Jazeera. "Interrogating a Torturer" follows Uruguayan journalist, Gerardo Brusezzi, who was tortured almost 30 years ago in Argentina. He returns to the country to confront one of his torturers in a filmed meeting. He meets Julio Simon, the first torturer to be convicted for crimes against humanity in Argentina. I found this interesting also in light of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge trial.

For 27 years Brusezzi nurtured a fantasy of what he would do to his torturers, who pissed and spat in the drinking water given to prisoners, who raped the men with sticks and who practised karate on them. Brusezzi learnt karate and lifted weights in preparation of doing to his torturers what they did to him before killing the men. Upon meeting Simon, Brsezzi realised that vengeance was not what he was after - that it would not solve anything. Just like the Count of Monte Cristo.

"It's confronting those who tried to destroy me physically and psychologically," said Brusezzi. "And my only intention is to show you that you didn't destroy me, that you made me stronger."

This is the background to these two men's tragic stories:

In March 1976, a military junta headed by General Rafael Videla overthrew Argentina's democratically elected government and launched a campaign of terror against all who opposed the coup. In the following seven years, Argentina's "dirty war" saw 15,000 people executed and 30,000 'disappeared'. Two-hundred and fifty concentration camps - where so-called 'terrorists' were routinely and systematically tortured while being interrogated - were set up throughout the country. Read more and watch the full video on Al Jazeera's People and Power.

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