To the editors.

I want to thank the Reader and writer John Conroy for bringing the work of the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Victims of Torture to the attention of the public [August 5]. It is much too easy for Americans, relatively safe from state-sponsored terrorism, to avoid thinking about the horrors inflicted on other human beings by their governments. Conroy’s disturbing and unsettling piece served as an excellent reminder that 40 years after the Holocaust, the depths of man’s capability for inhumanity have yet to be reached.

However, there is one point, briefly touched upon in Conroy’s piece, that I think needs expanding. For 27 years Amnesty International, an international human rights organization, has been working to prevent the kind of violence suffered by the patients of the Kovler Center. Here in Chicago, hundreds of Amnesty volunteers work tirelessly to gain freedom for those imprisoned for their unpopular beliefs or color, to stop the torture and execution of prisoners and detainees, and to demand that governments around the world respect the basic human rights outlined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For those who were horrified by the accounts in Conroy’s story, Amnesty International offers a concrete response. There are 10 Amnesty International groups in the Chicago area, as well as campus groups at most local high schools and Universities. For information on a group near you, contact Al’s Midwest Office at 427-2060.

I salute the courageous and dedicated volunteers at the Kovler Center, and thank them for their compassionate work on behalf of those who have so little and need so much. But the members of AI have a firm goal in mind: to put the Center, and torturers all over the world, permanently out of business.

Maureen Kelly


Chicago Cluster

Amnesty International