Pass the torturing instruments
The Australian Red Cross is disturbed. I’m disturbed. Humanitarian lawyers are shaking their heads. 1030 Australians were polled by the Australian Red Cross during June this year and asked questions about their attitudes towards war. And it seems that torture is okay with us Aussies.
What the? Do the Geneva Conventions mean nothing anymore? Whilst 88% of Australians polled have heard of the Conventions (there’s a good start), half believe they make no difference to the conduct of war. So you just ignore the fact that these Conventions set standards for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war??? We forget the fact that there are basic human rights for those captured during armed conflict??
Yes, well..apparently. Because 40% of Aussies polled in the People on War survey thought captured soldiers sometimes deserved to die. And 43% say it is okay to torture captured enemy soldiers in certain cases and grill them to extract military information. So 57% say it’s not okay, but 43% is a significant majority of Aussies who are saying yep, get the torture instruments ready.
35% need to brush up on the law because they think it is legal to torture a prisoner of war in order to obtain important military information. And those who have served in the military were more likely to lean towards saying torture is legal. This is the part of the polling I find deeply disturbing.
In an understatement, the strategic adviser on international law for the Australian Red Cross, said the poll results were ”disconcerting” and that the Red Cross has a lot of work to do. The good news is that Australians think civilians should be treated humanely during armed conflict.
Clearly, since 9/11 and the War on Terror, the security of the state has become paramount and this means that people’s attitudes have shifted – away from humanitarian considerations and towards “whatever it takes”. The “enemy” has been dehumanised. Bush and Howard have done a good job.
Torture is illegal under the Geneva Conventions. Period. Full stop. And if Aussies think it’s okay, well then, we’re as bad as the enemy. I’m sure if Aussie troops ever have the misfortune to be tortured, Australians would be jumping up and down in anger. But if you condone this type of conduct during war, then don’t bleat if it’s revisited on you is all I can say.