IRCT Vice President and Clinical Advisor Dr. Sana Hamzeh of the Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture (Restart) in Lebanon has received the 8th Barbara Chester Award (BCA). BCA celebrates Sana for her innovative spirit in protecting the lives of victims of torture under dangerous and difficult circumstances.
Since founding the Lebanon-based Restart Center in 1996, Sana has touched the lives of at least 27,000 survivors of torture, their families and entire communities. Working with a multi-disciplinary team Sana Hamzeh has empowered victims of torture often living with PTSD, are displaced persons or have other health diagnoses caused by torture.
The IRCT has the privilege of closely following Sana and the amazing work of the Restart Center – putting the anti-torture and the torture rehabilitation movement on the agenda. IRCT is incredibly proud to have Sana on board as Vice President.
Sana held a touching speech during the awards, again reminding the world of the urgency of investing time and resources into the anti-torture movement, even though it can be hard on the staff:
"The fact is, as we are sitting over here today, somebody is being tortured. Someone else is ruthlessly inflicting that torture without being held accountable for that crime. And, what is worse is that the world has turned a blind eye to all these crimes. Amnesty International has reported on torture in 141 countries - three-quarters of the world. Please register this; three-quarters of governments around the world, most of those states that are parties to UN Convention Against Torture, persistently and routinely torture their own people. So, can we really blame survivors for experiencing this resentment? How could we blame them when their agonizing stories make us realize ourselves that no matter how knowledgeable we think we are in torture issues and practices, perpetrators can, unfortunately, amaze us with their ability to come up with new practices and new forms of torture that surpass our imagination? How can we make them believe that there are activists and human rights defenders working around the clock to eradicate torture? And how can we make those survivors break their silence? Do you think it is easy for us, therapists, to break this wall of silence in one or two sessions or even five or twenty? Let me tell you, it is not easy at all.”
The Barbara Chester Award is the first anti-torture award and is often awarded to professionals passionate about, skilled at and dedicated to healing and empowering victims of torture. The ceremony took place on October 5th in Arizona, USA.
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The Restart Centre in Lebanon: