Century Marks

Zero tolerance for torture: In 1989 Sister Dianna Ortiz, a missionary teacher among the Mayan people, was abducted and tortured by Guatemalan security forces whose boss was an American. After he raped her, a policeman said to her: “Your God is dead.” But more than God died, she says—both she and her ministry died. But she came back to life, and out of this traumatic experience something else was born in her: a commitment to speak truth to power wherever torture is condoned and practiced. Torture is practiced by more than 1,500 governments, she says, including our own. She estimates that more than 500,000 torture survivors live in the United States alone, and that from 1,000 to 10,000 torturers reside in this country. Torture, she says, is also terrorism. “Under no circumstances is it part of counter-terrorism. It does not counter it; rather, it perpetuates it” (Spiritus, Fall).


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