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Why I Fight Against Torture, Part One

My husband, Dan, was a Vietnam Vet who survived torture. He came home with injuries that lasted for the rest of his life. Dan had scars all over his body, where they had cut him, and a trench in the back of his neck, where they had beaten him. His toenails had to be taken off three times when he got back to the US, because the bamboo poisoning was so bad where they had inflicted pain to get him to give them the answers they wanted. Even after the third removal of all of his toenails, the infection was so insidious that it came back and stayed for the rest of his life.

More importantly, Dan came back with his personality changed. He was given badly cooked or undercooked rice to eat during his captivity with occasional pieces of badly cooked fish or vegetables, so food was a huge issue for the rest of his life. There was never enough food to satisfy his psychological hunger. For the last two years of his life he was on dialysis, which is a long, slow, difficult road, but the worst part was the diet. Dialysis doesn’t take all the excess potassium or phosphorus out of your blood like your kidneys do, so you have to be very careful about how much of these nutrients you consume every single day or you can die. This was, and I use the term advisedly, torture for Dan; he became completely miserable and I became his warden, having to enforce the rules. His mind was so consumed by what it felt to be the deprivation of this diet that it rebelled and he began to eat in his sleep. He literally had no idea that he was doing it until I showed him the evidence. Even then, he was powerless to stop.

The nightmares were the worst though. He would scream out in pain many nights, even all these years later. In fact, they became more prevalent after the current war started, probably because the news brought it all back again. Often, he would speak urgently in Vietnamese in his sleep, which he had been taught as part of his training. It seemed as though he was trying to convince whoever he was talking to of something. There was a sense of desperation in his voice that was chilling and agonizing.

Almost four years ago, after four years of being disabled with diabetes and congestive heart failure, and two years on dialysis, Dan had a heart attack and didn’t come back. It has become my mission to try to live up to his legacy.

I need your help.

I need each and every one of you to stand up and tell the President, the Congress, and the Attorney General, that those responsible for torture MUST be held accountable, legally accountable. That you will accept nothing less.

I am at the beginning of gathering the people and organizations to bring together a March for Accountability. If you would like to be involved, my email address is in my profile.

Please stand up and give Dan the legacy that he deserves.

With gratitude and standing for justice and accountability,
For Dan,

This is the start of a series of diaries which I will be writing daily about the effects of torture from the persepctive of the person being tortured. I hope it will help to open some hearts and widen some perspectives.

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