Meditation: You Came to Me
…..I was in prison and you came to me. Matthew 25:36
Fawzi al-Odah’s mother is often found in his empty bedroom sobbing. In August of 2001 Fawzi and four others were fleeing US bombing areas and crossed the border into Pakistan. They were exhausted, hungry and tattered when their mountain guide brought them to a village. A tribal leader showed them hospitality but later sold them to Pakistani authorities.
Nearly a year later Fawzi wrote to his mother, "Now I am detained by the American forces and investigations are still going on…I will be established as innocent soon, and then I will return back to you…" It has been four years since she received that letter. Fawzi reports that he was tortured badly by US forces before being sent to Guantanamo. He says the worst part is that there is no hope of ever proving his innocence and no end in sight.
There are many like Fawzi. Some have been victims of civilian interrogators hired by the US and some are tortured by US military. One man reports. "They made me lie on a wooden board. Then they tied each of my hands to a winch. Then they placed me like this. They started taking photos of me. With every question they asked they would tighten the winch. Until I was stretched flat. They threatened to bring my wife and my eldest son and rape them in front of me." Many detainees report admitting to anything their torturers want to hear just to end the pain or prevent the suffering of their families.
Amnesty International has documented specific cases. Current legislation shows that these torture techniques are encouraged and endorsed by our government. This week the passing of the Military Commissions act of 2006 not only legalizes torture but also makes it possible that American Citizens can be identified as “Enemy Combatants” for “supporting” a suspected terrorist. Presidential advisor John Yoo has argued that there is no law to prevent the president form ordering the torture of a prisoner’s child and stated that even crushing the testicles of the child is not illegal under US law.
We are living in increasingly dark times. Christians are now faced with difficult decisions. Will we fear being labeled as supporters of “terrorists” if we try to visit those in prison, speak out against violence done in our name, or when the practicing the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven violates our national laws?
Throughout history honest, brave believers helped to redirect their culture, minister to the suffering, address injustice and make peace. St. Catherine of Siena was one such person in the 1300’s. Although she was illiterate she dictated over 400 letters to people in all types of vocations and circumstances. Many of these letters were to people in power and to those in prison. On one occasion she stood with a young knight sentenced to death for using seditious language against the government. It is reported that his last words were “Jesus” and “Catherine!”
Will any prisoner think of the love and compassion of Christ because of my actions?
Prayer: We kneel before you seeking your mercy and grace for our lack of action on behalf of prisoners. You are in prison and we have not come to you. Give us courage to face the truth of our own inaction and the reality of state sponsored torture. Empower us to make a difference and comfort those who suffer.
Action: Read the stories and see the photos of those who are being held without charges http://web.amnesty.org/pages/stoptorture-reallives-eng pray- for them. Learn more about legislation on torture at http://web.amnesty.org/pages/guantanamobay-index-eng http://www.fcnl.org/issues/issue.php?issue_id=70 Stay up to date with information on the Friends Service Committee website: http://www.fcnl.org/issues/issue.php?issue_id=70 Like St. Catherine we can change the course of history by writing letters to those in prison and to those in power.