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Torture -- the intentional infliction of severe mental or physical pain or suffering -- is a violation of the most basic of all human rights. Throughout history, many documents and agreements have been created to restrict or eliminate this most inhumane of all human actions. The Geneva Conventions, for example, was introduced in 1864 to ensure that prisoners and civilians are treated humanely during times of war. Article 5 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 states that, "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." The United Nations created a comprehensive legal document called the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which went into force on June 26, 1987, outlawing torture in the more than 100 countries which signed the convention. However, since then government-sanctioned torture has taken place in 150 countries, and in 70 of those countries torture by state officials was widespread.

Anyone can be a victim of torture -- soldiers, prisoners, men, women and children, young or old. Members of a particular religious, political or ethnic group are often the targets. A torture victim isn't the only one to suffer -- the whole family and community can be affected. Torture is sometimes used by one group to send a warning to other members of a different religious or political group. The pain a torture victim experiences is only the beginning -- many victims suffer psychological scars for years. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common, causing flashbacks, depression, nightmares and insomnia

Organizations like the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims help torture victims rebuild their lives with medical and psychological treatment, as well advocate for the elimination of torture around the world. There are more than 200 rehabilitation centers and programs around the world helping torture survivors. Other organizations like Amnesty International monitor torture violations around the world and help bring legal actions to stop torture.

June 26 is observed each year as the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. It is an opportunity to educate your community about the widespread presence of torture around the world. It's a chance to help urge the countries that haven't signed the Convention against torture to do so, and to ensure that countries that have never allow torture to take place.


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DO ONE THING for a Better World

1. Find out more about international laws against the use of torture.

2.  Hold an event to raise awareness about the widespread illegal use of torture and to support victims of torture.

3. Support organizations working to abolish the use of torture.


End Torture Day

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Issue: Ending Torture

Kofi Annan

Hannah Arendt

Joan Baez

James Baldwin

Peter Benenson

Wendell Berry

Stephen Biko

Susan Brownmiller

Noam Chomsky

Dalai Lama

Peter Gabriel

Kek Galabru

Mohandas Gandhi

Inga Genefke

Maria Julia Hernandez

John Locke

Sean MacBride

Federico Mayor


Dith Pran

Josť Ramos-Horta

Arundhati Roy

Bertrand Russell

Robert Alan Silverstein

Bertha Von Suttner

Emma Thompson

Elie Wiesel

Simon Wiesenthal

Harry Wu

Lida Yusupova

Leyla Zana

HEROPIX for a Better World
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Kofi Annan

Peter Benenson

Susan Brownmiller

The Dalai Lama

Inge Genefke
Do One Thing Calendar

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DO ONE THING and BetterWorld Kids Clubs are projects of The EMILY Fund (The Emily Silverstein Fund, Inc.)
Hero portraits are included for illustration purposes only - no celebrity endorsement implied

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