It becomes real when survivors speak
Amelie is a MA Student in Human Rights at City University. She writes here about a Survivors Speak Out (SSO) member speaking to her class at university.
'Some people are amazing.' This is what I thought while listening to Hassan's story.
I went to this event at City University with no expectations at all. I knew about Freedom from Torture and their activities, but I had never heard about the Survivors Speak Out Project.
I know about torture and dictatorship in general. I have read and thought about it, but it suddenly becomes real when survivors tell their own stories. It stops belonging exclusively to books and enters our everyday life and, to some extent, makes us rethink our priorities in life.
One of the things that really struck me was Hassan's ease with speaking about the traumatic experiences of his life: his arrest, detention and torture, journey to the UK, rehabilitation, and all the emotions that surrounded him at the time. Most of all, it was amazing to witness him considering life with a positive attitude. I thought that if I had gone through all that, I would probably be crushed, with no will to think about life. I guess that if it is possible for Hassan to speak out now, it is because of huge amounts of will and efficient therapies. It just sounds incredible.
The Survivors Speak Out project is an amazing idea for two reasons. First, I guess that it helps survivors themselves realise that they are exceptional people able to move forward in life despite their scars and to talk about themselves. Second, it is important for 'us', the public, to know about you. It makes us more aware of what happens in the world, it makes us grow up.
Thank you very much for this event and good continuation! And most of all: congratulations!