President Obama began his presidency by repudiating the Bush Administration's torture policies. On the heels of this decisive step, there is an opportunity for the US to lead again. America can demonstrate to the world that the US not only condemns policies that sanction torture and cruelty, but also strongly affirms the importance of supporting programs geared towards healing survivors of torture.
Caring for survivors of politically motivated torture is crucial to advancing human rights and building democratic societies. The opportunity to demonstrate America's commitment to healing the wounds of torture, as a core national value, is presented through the Torture Victims Relief Act (TVRA).
TVRA authorizes funds that finance US-based and international rehabilitation programs for torture survivors. With funding for torture survivor rehabilitation centers remaining stagnant for several years, the demand for services has vastly exceeded resources, causing several programs to close or drastically scale back services and report long wait lists.
Through investing in these programs, domestically and internationally, the US can demonstrate a commitment to heal the wounds of torture and help survivors reclaim their lives. By ensuring that these programs remain strong and serve the individuals and families who rely on their services, we will help to restore America's moral leadership.
Here is a sample script for your call (below the fold). Feel free to add personal and professional details when you call.
To reach your Senators and Congressperson, call the Congressional Switch board at 202 224 3121 and ask to be connected to your representatives. Not sure who they are? Look it up here!
- Sample script for calling your Member of Congress TODAY Tuesday, February 24th:
- Introduce yourself and mention that you're from the member's district or state.
- Inform the staff member you are speaking with that you would like your member to co-sponsor the Torture Victims Relief Act (TVRA), which authorizes funds for torture treatment programs in the US and abroad to help torture victims rebuild productive lives.
- Since TVRA does not have a bill number yet, tell your member to be an original co-sponsor of TVRA -for House members they should email Rep. Smith (R-NJ) or Rep. Oberstar (D-MN); and for Senate members they should email Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN)
- Let them know that the United States is home to approximately 500,000 torture survivors who have fled societies where torture was used to destroy democracy and civil society.
- Caring for survivors of politically motivated torture is crucial to advancing human rights and building strong democratic societies.
- For several years, funding for torture rehabilitation centers has remained stagnant. Several treatment centers have been forced to close or drastically scale back services, and those that remain open report long waiting lists for services. Co-sponsoring TVRA can help change this.
Your voice will ensure Congress knows how critical support of TVRA is to the torture survivors who receive care at 35 programs in the US and at nearly 200 centers in 70 countries around the world. Thanks for taking action!