What are the 10 most prevalent forms of torture and why?


1
Mock Executions
This Iraqi man, if led to believe he will be soon killed, will have endured a mock execution.
This Iraqi man, if led to believe he will be soon killed, will have endured a mock execution.
David Furst/AFP/Getty Images

In 1849, famed Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky found himself facing death by firing squad for his political activities. But death never came; the execution was staged, and Dostoyevsky instead found himself headed to a labor camp in Siberia. His mock execution seems to have affected him for the rest of his life, however. Many of his later novels focused on criminals, violence and forgiveness, all subjects very familiar to the author. Needless to say, Dostoyevsky's experience wasn't unique.

A mock execution is any situation in which a victim feels that his or her death -- or the death of another person -- is imminent or has taken place. It could be as hands-off as verbally threatening a detainee's life, or as dramatic as blindfolding a victim, holding an unloaded gun to the back of his or her head and pulling the trigger. Any clear threat of impending death falls into the category of mock executions. Water boarding, the method of simulated drowning, is also an example of mock execution.

The U.S. Army Field Manual expressly prohibits soldiers from staging mock executions [source: Levin]. But reports of some U.S. military members staging these executions have emerged from the Iraq War. For example, in 2005, one Iraqi man questioned for stealing metal from an armory was tortured by being asked to choose one of his sons to die for his crime. When his son was taken around a building, out of the man's sight, he was led to believe that the son had been executed when he heard gunshots fired. Two years earlier, two Army personnel were investigated for staging mock executions. In one circumstance, an Iraqi was taken to a remote area and made to dig his own grave, and soldiers pretended he would be shot [source: AP].

The U.S. military is certainly not the only group to violate international law regarding mock executions as torture. In 2007, 15 Britons were captured by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. After their second night, the prisoners were lined up facing a wall, blindfolded and bound. Behind them, the detainees heard guns cocked, followed by the clicks of firing hammers falling against nothing [source: Kelly].

Despite bans against them, mock executions continue as a means of torture -- perhaps because of their effectiveness in breaking a detainee's will. The effects of such threats on the victim's life are deep and lasting: The Center for Victims of Torture reports that torture victims who've undergone mock executions described flashbacks in which they felt as though they had already died [source: CVT].

For more information on this topic and related ones, visit the next page.

Related Articles

More Great Links

Sources

  • Amnesty International. "Gulderen Baran." Feb. 14, 1996. http://asiapacific.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR440201996?open&of=ENG-2EU
  • Amnesty International. "Philippines - Torture persists: appearance and reality within the criminal justice system" 2003. http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session1/PH/AI_PHL_UPR_S1_2008_AmnestyInternational_uprsubmission_annex2.pdf
  • Amnesty International and CODESRIA. "Monitoring and investigating torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." 2000. http://www.amnesty.nl/sites/default/files/public/booklet_eng_torture.pdf
  • Arnold, Frank. "Treatment and management of wounds and scars of torture." Wounds UK. Vol. 5 No. 9. 2009. http://www.wounds-uk.com/pdf/content_9315.pdf
  • Associated Press. "Officials: Officers staged mock executions." FoxNews.com. May 17, 2005. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156867,00.html
  • Blakeney, Patricia and Daniel Creson. "Psychological and Physical Trauma: Treating the Whole Person" Journal of Mine Action 6.3 Victim Assistance. December 2002. http://maic.jmu.edu/journal/6.3/focus/blakeneyCreson/blakeneyCreson.htm
  • Booth, Cherie. "The Spoils of War." The Guardian. March 3, 2006. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/mar/03/gender.uk
  • Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights. "Mental Health - Types of Torture." http://www.bu.edu/bcrhhr/pro/course/mental/types.html
  • Burnett, Angela and Peel, Michael. "The health of survivors of torture and organised violence." BMJ. March 10, 2001. http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/322/7286/606?ck=nck
  • Cesereanu, Ruxandra. "An overview of political torture in the twentieth century." Journal for the Study of Ideologies and Religions. Summer 2006. http://jsri.ro/ojs/index.php/jsri/search/authors/view?firstName=Ruxandra&middleName=&lastName=Cesereanu&affiliation=Babes-Bolyai%20University&country=RO
  • The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT). "Effects of psychological torture." http://www.cvt.org/sites/cvt-dev.electricjet.net/files/u10/CVT_EffectsOfPsychologicalTorture_August2011.pdf
  • Domovitch, E. Berger, P. Wawer, M. Etlin, D. Marshall, J. "Human Torture: Description and Sequelae of 104 Cases." Canadian Family Physician. Vol. 30. April 1984. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2154067/pdf/canfamphys00218-0097.pdf
  • Edston, Erik. "Police torture in Bangladesh - allegations by refugees in Sweden." Torture. Vol. 15. No. 1. 2005. http://bit.ly/yuzhTo
  • History.com. "Dec 22, 1849: Dostoevsky reprieved at last minute." http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/dostoevsky-reprieved-at-last-minute
  • Horton, Scott. "Information Secured Through Torture Proved Unreliable, CIA Concluded." Harper's Magazine. March 29, 2009. http://harpers.org/archive/2009/03/hbc-90004644
  • International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims. "Defining torture" http://www.irct.org/what-is-torture/defining-torture.aspx
  • International Society for Human Rights. "Common methods of torture and abuse in the People's Republic of China." http://www.ishr.org/Methods-of-torture-in-the-People-s-Republic-of-China.1047.0.html
  • Kellaway, Jean. "The History of Torture & Execution." The Lyons Press. 2003. http://books.google.com/books?id=mMoKzF74yVIC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
  • Kelly, Tom. "Blindfolded Britons tell of the moment the guards' guns clicked." The Daily Mail. April 7, 2007. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=447110&in_page_id=1766&ito=1490
  • Levin, Sen. Carl. "Senate floor statement on the Army Field Manual provision in the intelligence authorization conference report." Feb. 13, 2008. http://www.carllevin.com/news/2008/02/13/senate-floor-statement-on-the-army-field-manual-provision-in-the-intelligence-authorization-conference-report/
  • McNaught, Anita. "Unit 731: Japan's biological force." Feb. 1, 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/correspondent/1796044.stm
  • Moreno, A. and M.A. Grodin. "Torture and its neurological sequelae." Nature. May 2002. http://www.nature.com/sc/journal/v40/n5/full/3101284a.html
  • Mount, Mike. "Army: 'Soldiers did mock executions'." CNN. May 19, 2005. http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/19/detainee.abuse/index.html
  • New Zealand Herald. "Iranian thief has four fingers publicly amputated." Feb. 27, 2007. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/crime/news/article.cfm?c_id=30&objectid=10426013
  • Olsen, Dorte Reff et al. "Prevalent pain and pain level among torture survivors." Danish Medical Bulletin. May 2006. http://www.danmedbul.dk/Dmb_2006/0206/0206-artikler/DMB3769.htm
  • Peel, Michael and Vincent Iacopino. "The Medical Documentation of Torture." Cambridge University Press. 2002. http://books.google.com/books?id=4IuBwVfBbowC&pg=PA209&lpg=PA209&dq=most+prevalent+form+of+torture&source=web&ots=Eia92hpKbq&sig=RuAVx_YSdL76nERxkd8S3HtlH84&hl=en
  • Prip, K. and A. Persson. "Clinical findings in men with chronic pain after falanga torture." Clinical Journal of Pain. February 2008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18209520?dopt=Abstract
  • Rejali, Darius. "Electricity: The global history of a torture technology." Reed College. http://academic.reed.edu/poli_sci/faculty/rejali/articles/History_of_Electric_Torture.html
  • Rejali, Darius. "Torture, American style." The Boston Globe. Dec. 16, 2007. http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2007/12/16/torture_american_style/
  • Rivers, Dan. "Burned Gadhafi family nanny being treated in Tripoli." CNN. Aug. 30, 2011. http://articles.cnn.com/2011-08-30/world/libya.nanny.update_1_nanny-cnn-crew-hot-water?_s=PM:WORLD
  • Ross, Brian and Esposito, Richard. "Sources tell ABC news top Al Qaeda figured held in secret CIA prisons." Dec. 5, 2005. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=1375123
  • SPIRASI. "About torture." http://www.spirasi.ie/torture/what_is_torture.shtml
  • Sullivan, Andrew. "How Doctors Got Into the Torture Business." Time. June 23, 2006. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1207633,00.html
  • "Torture methods used on Falun Dafe practitioners in detention centres and forced labor camps in China." Clear Harmony. http://clearharmony.net/articles/200205/4484.html
  • Tyson, Peter. "Holocaust on Trial." Public Broadcasting Service." 2000. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/holocaust/
  • University of Massachusetts, Lowell. "Unit 731 - Japan's Wartime Human Experimentation Program." http://evaluations.uml.edu/Rigas/GlobeSecretHistory/shenware.virtualave.net/his_unit731.shtml
  • U.S. Department of State. "Turkey: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices." Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Feb. 23, 2000. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/1999/index.cfm?docid=365
  • Weinstein, H., L. Dansky and V. Iacopino. "Torture and War Trauma Survivors in Primary Care." Western Journal of Medicine. Vol. 165. No. 3. September 1996. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1303716/pdf/westjmed00348-0014.pdf
  • Wilcox, Christie. "Scientists Discover Why Suffocation Causes Fear." Science 2.0. http://www.science20.com/science_paradise/scientists_discover_why_suffocation_causes_fear
  • Wilson, John Preston, Zev Harell and Boaz Kahana. "Human Adaptation to Extreme Stress: From the Holocaust to Vietnam." Springer. 1988. http://books.google.com/books?id=eu3mCNewkE8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=john+preston+wilson&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DmMMT-HmDNCCtgfJj5GeBQ&ved=0CF8Q6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=john%20preston%20wilson&f=false

UP NEXT

If Torture Doesn't Work, Why Do Governments Use It?

If Torture Doesn't Work, Why Do Governments Use It?

Does torture even work? Stuff They Don't Want You To Know looks at the past, present and future of torture and why civilized societies still use it.


More to Explore