'Stop Torture' protesters take campaign to O'Connell statue
ACTIVISTS and supporters of Amnesty International brought traffic to a standstill as they posed with blindfolds at Dublin's iconic O'Connell statue as part of an international day in support of victims of torture.
Colm O'Gorman, head of Amnesty International Ireland, said the human rights organisation's global "Stop Torture" campaign was launched in May this year to highlight what he said is the increasing prevalence of torture being used by police and state authorities with impunity in 79 countries.
This is despite the countries being among 155 countries whose governments have signed up to the international Convention Against Torture, which legally bans torture.
Patricia Kagodora (38), an asylum seeker living in Athlone, Co Westmeath, is one of almost 4,000 refugees living in Ireland who have experienced torture in their homelands.
The former trucking company owner from Zimbabwe said she was targeted by state authorities there when she and other women who had been oppressed by the state became politically active in 2010.
She explained how she has been arrested on a bogus public order charge and put in a tiny holding cell with 15 other women, where she was threatened with rape before being coerced into signing an admission of guilt, before eventually fleeing the country with her children and seeking refuge in Ireland in 2011.
She said: "My first year here was a difficult year. I was very anxious. I didn't trust anybody and I was constantly in and out of hospital."
Sadly, Ms Kagodora's experience is thought to be shared by thousands of refugees currently living here.