February 11
Feeding the Darkness, a passionate and moving short play, was followed by a discussion on torture by governments. More than 40 people attended the debate, which began with Lynn and David Morris of the Journeymen Theatre shining a light on state sanctioned torture through story, poem and song. The stories told via eleven standalone dramatic scenes shone a light on both the experiences of the tortured and the torturers. The long-lasting effect of such practices as foot whipping, waterboarding, sleep deprivation and rectal feeding on the human beings involved took central stage. The scenes approached the subject from a wide range of perspectives: from victims, to those in contact with them as they sought asylum; from perpetrators and the effect on their families; from 1930s Germany to present day UK; and from a vicar delivering an impassioned sermon on what they've learned about torture to a couple shopping for cruises discussing the market for their new range manacles. The performance showed the complex and far-reaching consequences of torture on all those involved incorporating shocking facts into heartfelt human stories and ended with Lynn and David laying out a line of shoes. The discussion began with a question on the meaning of the shoes. It is left to each person to consider for them what they mean but an interpretation was offered that it could be those from people who died under torture. Much of the discussion centred around what we could do and the chair Ruth Breddal who is chair of Amnesty International, UK, told us how by joining together in Amnesty we can make a difference. Letters do make a difference and thousands of letters can make a great difference. Freedom from Torture at www.freedomfromtorture.org is the only organisation in the UK solely dedicated to the treatment and rehabilitation of victims of torture and has many ways of getting involved. The question was asked as to whether torture is ever justified. If a reliable truth drug was developed that could obtain information that would save lives would this be acceptable? Opinions varied but it is clear that at present no such drug does exist and information obtained under torture is very unreliable as who of us would not confess to anything? The collection of £75 was donated to Freedom From Torture and Woking Quakers paid the Journeymen Theatre's travel costs.