Ignorance about Man, the Only Reason; Universal Peace Education, the Only Prevention of Torture

IN FOCUS, 25 Jun 2018

Surya Nath Prasad, Ph. D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

On UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June

The UN General Assembly proclaimed 26 June the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. And 26 June is held annually to speak out against the crime of torture and to honor and support victims and survivors throughout the world.

Tales of Victims of Inhuman Torture in History 

History of the whole world is the sordid tales of victims of inhuman torture. If the cruel animals and poisonous insects would be able to speak in human language, they would laugh and speak on worst form of human cruelty committed on their fellow beings.

I am starting with the cruel torture committed on the great men in the history for their valuable ideas for freedom, peace and nonviolence. Jesus Christ, who translated passive justice into active love, was the most painful victim of worst type of cruelty and inhuman form of torture by the so-called highly learned and expert persons in the authority of religion and law of that time. Socrates, who fought for the freedom of speculation, was poisoned to death by democratic government of his period. John Huss, then Rector of University of Prague, who advanced unorthodox doctrines, was burned at stake. Giordano Bruno, who revolted against religious bigotry, was burnt. A great Quaker Thomas Garret, who acted in emancipation of slaves, was convicted and fined.

For independence of India, Pandit Parmanand of Jhansi, a very strong freedom fighter, great patriot and renowned revolutionary, was put in indecent Cellular Jail in Port Blair, Andaman Island, for the the longest period nearly 33 years of his life by the British government. The author of these lines had good relation, contact and conversation with him since 1972 till the end of his life who died at the age about 90 years. Pandit Parmanand declined addresses of welcome when he was released from Lahore, and at the reception he said he was not “worthy” of all the praise as he looked upon himself as a “defeated warrior” who had not been able to achieve his purpose. Upon this, Mahatma Gandhi commented that he had found a “real brother”.

In 1893 Mahatma Gandhi was thrown from the running train due to racial discrimination in a trip to Pretoria in the Transvaal, South Africa, a journey first took Gandhi to Pietermaritzburg. There, Gandhi was seated in the first-class compartment, since he had purchased a first-class ticket. A European who entered the compartment hastened to summon railway officials, who ordered Gandhi to remove himself to the van compartment, since ‘coolies’ and non-whites were apparently not permitted in first-class compartments. Gandhi protested and produced his ticket, but was warned that he would be forcibly removed if he did not make a gracious exit. As Gandhi refused to comply with the order, he was summarily pushed out of the train, and his luggage was tossed out on to the platform. The train steamed away, and Gandhi withdrew to the waiting room. “It was winter,” Gandhi was to write in his autobiography, and “the cold was extremely bitter. My over-coat was in my luggage, but I did not dare to ask for it lest I should be insulted again, so I sat and shivered” (Part II, Ch. 8).

The South African activist and former president Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), who helped bring an end to apartheid and has been a global advocate for human rights, spent 27 years in jail, out of which, the first 18 years at the brutal Robben Island Prison, a former leper colony off the coast of Cape Town, where he was confined to a small cell without a bed or plumbing and compelled to do hard labor in a lime quarry. As a black political prisoner, he received scantier rations and fewer privileges than other inmates. Mandela and his fellow prisoners were routinely subjected to inhumane punishments for the slightest of offenses; among other atrocities, there were reports of guards burying inmates in the ground up to their necks and urinating on them.

Advocate Bram Fischer was also one of the great figures in South Africa during the apartheid era. He said in his trial, “…My Lord, when a man is on trial for his political belief and actions, two courses is open before him. He can either confess to his transgressions and plead for mercy, or he can justify his beliefs and explain why he acted as he did. Were I to ask for forgiveness today, I would betray my cause. That course my lord, is not open to me. I believe that what I did was right, and I must therefore explain to your Lordship what my motives were, why I hold beliefs that that I do, and why I was compelled to act in accordance with them. …

I accept, my Lord, the general rule for protection of a society laws should be obeyed. But when the laws themselves become immoral, and require the citizen to take part in an organized system of oppression – if only by his silence and apathy – then I believe that a higher duty arises. This compels one to refuse to recognize such laws. And Bram Fischer was sentenced to life imprisonment for his protest against the apartheid law.

Besides the stories stated about the torture committed on the great men for their noble cause, there were many other notable persons in the science, religion, literature, culture, politics, and other fields who were humiliated, tortured and even killed for their worthy cause of protection of human rights, justice, peace and nonviolence.

Apart from these popular personalities of all over the world, who suffered with the torture committed at hands authority and mighty persons, we find victims of torture within all most all the homes, educational institutions, different sects and other social and cultural organizations of  non-democratic nation-states (their numbers are more) and democratic and semi-democratic nation-states (their numbers are less) where mostly poor, elderly, sick, physically and mentally handicapped persons, women and children are victims of severe torture, because most of the signatory nation-States with the UN are the violators of human rights as it is evident from the Report of Amnesty International. The Human Rights Organization’s Global Survey Report covers 142 countries and uncovers massive and ruthless violation of human rights in practically every part of the world. It unfolds a sordid tale of man’s torture and inhumanity to man.

Even the United Nations is not free from the stigma of torture, because United Nations Peace Forces committed the act of torture. UN peace keepers have been violators of human rights. The 34 page report, which was published by The Washington Post, accuses UN peace keepers from Morocco, Pakistan and Nepal of seeking to obstruct UN efforts to investigate a sexual abuse scandal that has damaged the UN’s standing in Congo. Then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said there was “clear evidence that acts of gross misconduct have taken place” in the United Nations’ Congo Mission, which began in 2000.

A confidential report prepared by Prince Zeid Raad Al-Hussein – Jordan’s Ambassador to UN – dated November 08, 2004, says the exploitation “appears to be significant, widespread and ongoing”. Fifty countries represented in the UN’s Congo Mission. American Soldiers in Iraq, who were supposed to bring democracy and peace there, did inhuman deeds there. Peter Graff of Reuters says that the Red Cross saw US troops keeping Iraqi prisoners naked for days in darkness at the Abu Ghraib jail. Then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the United States and the United Kingdom must “take a strong and firm stand to ensure that those kind of activities are not repeated, because it does do damage, as you can see from reactions in the region.

UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

It is good sign that the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is held annually on 26 June everywhere to speak out against the crime of torture and to honor and support victims and survivors throughout the world, in the view of the Resolution 52/149 passed on 12 December 1997, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 26 June the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of torture, with view to total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or punishment.

However, this resolution will serve the purpose of rehabilitation of victims of torture. Though in the past, there were Magna Carta (1215), habeas corpus( 1674), and a Bill of Rights (1689), in England, a Declaration of Rights (1789), in France a Declaration of Rights, and in United States (entered into force 1791),and Legislation concerning the protection of the individual against actions by the authorities dates back to about 1350 in Italy. And now the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and two the International Covenants of 1966, on civil and Political Rights, and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights were expressions of deep international concern for human rights protection. The Declaration has now been accepted by virtually all of the today’s Nation-States of the world. The International Covenants have also been ratified by the member states of the United Nations. None of them could stop the occurrence of events of torture.

Reason and Prevention of Torture 

Ignorance about man (human being) is the only reason, and Universal Peace Education is the only prevention of the torture.

Reason of Torture: Ignorance About Man 

The truth about the reason of torture was realized, identified and justified by Jesus Christ, who was victim of torture committed by ignorant Jewish leaders (who demanded that Jesus be put to death – Matthew 27:22-25) and the Romans (who physically crucified Jesus – Matthew 27:27-37), and Pontius Pilate, the then Roman Governor of Judaea (who was responsible for the execution of Jesus of Nazareth), then Jesus praying the God said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” – Luke 23:34).

The names cited below here about the persons who committed torture on the people, and the persons or  due to their criminal acts people became victims of their torture, later who became saints, great men and civilians due to enlightenment of the saintly great personalities who changed their lives also provide justification and proofs of reason of their ignorance for their acts of torture.

There was a criminal robber Ratnakar in ancient India. Saint Narada enlightened him and he became himself a distinguished saint with his designated name of Saint Valmiki and recognized as a pioneer poet (first poet) and author of a popular book: Ramayana (500 B. C. to 160 B . C.).

There is a story of criminal murderer Angulimala, whose torture on human beings was extreme, he had already murdered 99 people, and cutting their fingers and making garland of bloody fingers he wore in his neck, this was the reason, he was nicknamed Angulimala, which means ‘finger garland’ or ‘finger necklace’. Even the troops of the King of that period could not arrest him. One day seeing Buddha on his way, Angulimala was happy to complete his score of 100 murders by killing him. But he did not succeed even to reach near him in spite of his several attempts. Then upon the hearing the word ‘stop’ uttered by Buddha, Angulimala not only stopped making his effort to reach him for killing, he threw away his weapons and followed the Buddha back to the monastery where he became a monk. Thus the life of the cruel criminal murderer Angulimala was changed by Lord Buddha’s enlightenment.

Ashoka the Great Emperor of India, who ruled India from 269 BCE to 232 BCE, killed his 99 brothers leaving only one brother Tissa. In 265 BCE, Ashoka attacked Kalinga. In the battle, about 100,000 civilians were killed, as well as 10,000 of Ashoka’s soldiers. The war of Kalinga (BC 261) was the turning point in the life of Ashoka. The mass death, the ruined houses and bloodied corpses in the war changed the mind of Ashoka and sickened him and he underwent a religious epiphany, and he became a follower of Buddhism.

The heart and behavior of The Garbage Thrower Lady was changed by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (570-622 C. E.) through his kind, sympathetic, affectionate and tolerant behavior.

The conviction, belief, will and life of inventor of dangerous explosives (1862-18650) and murderous dynamite (1867) Alfred Nobel was changed. The News with the heading “The Merchanted of Death Alfred Nobel is Dead” was published in French News paper by mistake the death of his brother Ludvig for hiding his obituary.

Dr Alfred Nobel, who made his fortune by finding a way to kill the most people as ever before in the shortest time possible, died yesterday,” the newspaper wrote. “Alfred was horrified when he read this and later became obsessed by his posthumous reputation,” London explained.

Eight years after his devastating obituary, Nobel died and his famous will was unveiled, laying the foundation for what today are considered some of the world’s most prestigious prizes in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, economics and peace.

A guerrilla rebel group of Philippines surrendered their arms during the governance of then President of Philippines Ramon Magsaysay (1953-1957), who was himself ex-guerilla and fought against Japanese occupation, he solved the problems of “terrorism” of the Huks. The Ramon Magsaysay Award was conceived to honor “greatness of spirit shown in service to the people.” The award is given in six categories annually, viz. Government Service, Public Service, Community Leadership, Journalism, Peace and International Understanding, and Emergent Leadership.

In India in May 1960, 20 dacoits of Chambal Valley to whom the police failed to control them, surrendered their arms before Acharya Vinoba Bhave – a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. 12 years later on 14 and 16 April 1972, a large group of dacoits formally surrendered in batches before Shri Jayaprakash Narayan at the Mahatma Gandhi Seva Ashram in Joura, Morena, At the end of the day of surrender, 167 dacoits were surrendered. Jayprakash Narayan said, “They are all like children.”

Prevention of Torture: The Universal Peace Education

The Universal Peace Education is the only prevention of torture, and the way of its total eradication. Therefore the author of these lines, keeping in his mind the advice of “Know thyself” given by saints and sages of ancient India in Vedanta in 700 B. C., Lord Buddha in 500 B. C., Socrates in 400 B. C., some centuries later Jesus Christ and Holy Prophet Muhammad in 609-632 A. D., though none of their followers, with a very few exceptions, had given any heed to follow them, developed the concept of universal peace education for justice, peace and to solve the problems of all types of violence of torture.

This author’s universal peace education is based on universally inherent five elements, viz. body, vitality, mind, intellect and spirit in every man and woman everywhere without any discrimination, and it is man-making education for perpetual integral manifestation of these elements throughout his or her life, it means it will not be for certain period of time for merely certification of degrees or diplomas to get better jobs. Methodology in universal peace education will be mathetics – the science of learning, not the pedagogy – the science of teaching. Its access will be for all and free of charge during schooling, and after they will be able to practice throughout their lives. Thus integral manifestation of all the elements in men and women make them saints for saintly behavior, but partial unfoldment of these elements prepare them for committing violence of torture.

Therefore firstly, the present elders and guardians – parents, teachers, preachers, and rulers and bureaucrats, judges, lawyers, police, army and persons in authority in the nation-states, and persons working in the United Nations must be enlightened by learning and practicing perpetually the concept of universal peace education based on universally inherent five elements, viz. body, vitality, mind, intellect and spirit in them also to be manifested integrally being just and peaceful, and to set their examples providing means, resources and opportunity to the younger and wards – sons and daughters, students, followers of sects, masses and common people, litigants in disputes, victims and accused, people in danger of natural calamities, and victims of torture, violence and war. Secondly, all the benefitted, corrected and modified elders and younger generation by the universal peace education will help the coming generation to follow them to be the same – the just and peaceful perpetually being instrumental for prevention of violence of torture.

Hence this author appeals to the United Nations to replace the existing peace education (which is based on the concept of knowledge, attitude and skill, methodology as pedagogy, access for only those who can afford its high fee and for only certain period of time to get degree or diploma for getting jobs), with the concept of universal peace education. And this author requests to the UN Secretary-General to put up the proposal of Universal Peace Education before UN General Assembly to adopt it with the amendment in existing peace education, so that UN Member Nation-States can implement it in their respective nations for their people and persons of all sectors for prevention of violence of torture.


Dr. Surya Nath Prasad, former president & currently executive vice president of International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), associate professor of education emeritus, former visiting professor, the graduate institute of peace studies, Kyung Hee University, Republic of Korea, founder & editor-in-chief, Peace Education: An International Journal. dr_suryanathprasad@yahoo.co.in

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Jun 2018.

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