As part of its anti-torture campaign on the
occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, which is
marked on the 26th of June every year, Gaza Community
Mental Health Programme has organized on Sunday, July 3, 2012 a workshop under
the title “Aggression Is Another Type of Torture!!”.
The workshop was attended by mental health and
human rights specialists and workers from local and international organization
and included a panel of 4 main speakers who discussed the recent Israeli
offensive and the Palestinian status under the occupation.
The panel included Dr Yasser Abu Jamei, Director
General of GCMHP; Isam Younis, Director of Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights;
Saber Al-Neirab, Officer Director of the High Commissioner for Human Rights;
and Khader Rasras, Director of Rehabilitation Centre for the Treatment of
Victims of Torture, who was linked to the workshop via Zoom program.
The workshop was started by a viewing a short
documentary that showed the mental suffering of people in Gaza as a result of
the vast state of destruction that the Israeli aggression has left.
Then the discussion panel started
representing their papers and provided their contributions.
At the beginning of the discussion session, Dr
Abu Jamei explained the impact of the recent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip
and the most common symptoms and disorders that have appeared among the
population, especially women and children.
He also quoted international reports talking
about mental health needs of the Palestinian population under “emergency
response”, as well as the needed different levels of intervention that starts
from the basic to the most advanced.
In addition, he pointed out to the state of fear
and helplessness that the Palestinians lived in Gaza during the Israeli
offensive and how parents and caregivers were in distress, especially as they
felt unable to protect their children.
During the discussion session, Mr Younis, explained the definition
of torture, reflecting it on the Palestinian reality and their daily suffering.
is causing mental or physical suffering for a helpless person by a state
employee, if we compare this definition with what is being done to the
Palestinians and the blockade imposed on them, we can clearly see that it is
absolutely torture,” he said.
On his part, Mr Saber Al-Neirab, Officer Director of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights, talked about the pioneering role of late Dr Eyad
Al-Saraj, founder of Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, in establishing a
tight link between mental health and human rights. Similarly, the impact
of torture should be linked to the mental health state of the individual and
the society, he said.
He also considered that mongering the culture of fear and
intimidation is another type of torture, referring that “today torture can be defined
in the shadow of the subjugation and humiliation that the Palestinians are
experiencing in their everyday lives.
Speaking on the state of hopelessness that Palestinians live in
the West Bank, Jerusalem and inside the green line, Mr Rasras, explained that
tens of homes, farms, water wells and infrastructures are destroyed
everyday by the occupation forces. He also explained that when people live such
traumatic experiences every day, they develop something know in mental health
as continuing traumatic stress disorder.
“it is important to install hope in people so as to help them
resist this feeling of subjugation and helplessness. When people took to the
streets in Gaza after the declaration of ceasefire to celebrate their
steadfastness, that was a positive indicator – that was hope,” he said.
A set of recommendations were produced during the workshop. They
are as follow:
· There is a necessity to conduct thorough
studies on the mental health impact of the blockade and the continuing Israeli
aggression as a type of torture;
· There is a necessity to provide specialized
mental health interventions that matches the context of the victims of torture
· There is a need to document the individual and
collective experiences of exposure to torture and publish them through
different media tools so as to recruit the international opinion and advocate
for the stop of the continuing aggression that the Palestinians are living
· Professional, legal and scientific discussion on
the impact of the different types of torture should continue and more work
should be invested in efforts for achieving accountability and redressing the
victims of torture.