2008-01-18 Bill Schiller
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Swedish teenagers trying to draw more attention to much discussed human rights problem

Teenagers are vearing T-Shirts similar to this oneTeenagers are vearing T-Shirts similar to this one
The United States seems intent on creating its own present-day controversy. The concept of rendition flights has appeared in our headlines in the last couple of years – terror suspects flown secretly, through different countries’ airspaces and interrogated in secret locations. Human Rights groups have complained bitterly that the practice is illegal on a number of levels. Sweden has produced its own negative headlines in relation to the alleged CIA-flights … but as Radio Sweden's Bill Schiller now reports there are some Swedish teenagers currently trying to draw attention to the problem - in their very own way.

The normal sounds of an outward-bound airliner and of the friendly flight attendants welcoming you aboard providing safety instructions, length of flights, temperatures and more. A far cry from some highly-condemned flights these days. Criss-crossing not only this continent sometimes from secret destinations in Eastern Europe or in the Middle East or back and forth to the notorious Guantanamo prison camp at the American military base on Cuba.

International human rights organizations and a European Union report have sharply criticized these secret flights – fetching and delivering prisoners to jails where torture is expected to be a standard part of interrogation – and where these flights move human traffic from one place to another in what can be years-long detention without trial or where evidence against the suspects is never produced. The accusations against the CIA and other intelligence services using these covert air flights often make big headlines and then fade quickly away.

Recent Torture ProtestRecent Torture Protest
However, some 17-year-olds who are members of the Swedish branch of the world-wide human rights organization, Amnesty International, want to keep these secret journeys in the spotlight — and are dedicating some of the time most teen-agers dedicate to after-school activities or party-going to very special public relations work at schools, in public spaces or at downtown exhibition centres – wearing bright yellow uniforms offering seating on their make-believe airlines, "Torture Tours."

‘My name is Dia Anfeldt … Linda Isaksson.’

You’re wearing yellow shirts with “Air Torture” logos on them.

‘This is a campaign with Amnesty. We are campaigning against the torture in the world and the so-called renditions. They are taking people and transporting them to other countries known for their treatment against the prisoners.’

Alleged terrorists, people who are accused but sometimes without evidence.

‘Exactly. That’s just it and the campaign is against that because we want to protest against the unethical treatment of these people because there is no proof and that’s why we are standing here today.’

What kind of petitions are you making?

Recent Torture ProtestRecent Torture Protest
‘Well, it’s just names on a piece of paper and then we send the letters to the American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, for example, to make a difference in the world.’

How long have you been working with Amnesty International?

‘Not for a very long time. I’m quite new but I think it’s a lot of fun and I think we can make a difference.’

What’s your next project?

‘Well, my friends and I are from a school group, we’re going to make a campaign in our school and inform our classmates and we’re going to have a table in the entrance with some papers and maybe meet new people and inform them about our work with Amnesty and what we are doing.’

Do you think they will laugh and say “Oh, silly!” or will they say, “Oh what a good idea!”?

‘Well I hope they will say, “oh what a good idea!”’

What’s your plan, what will you do in the future?

‘Pretty much the same. I want to continue in Amnesty with our campaigns. But mostly, I don’t know at all what I’m going to do with my life.’

How old are you?

‘Seventeen. Me too. Seventeen.’

Swedish government officials have been repeatedly blasted for permitting CIA agents to land their hired plane here in Stockholm and remove 2 Egyptian refugees from Swedish territory - stripping them, drugging them and roughing them up on board the plane in front of uncritical Swedish military – and delivering the men to Cairo – where they claim they were tortured in the Egyptian prison. Despite protests from Amnesty and others, one of the men released from his Cairo jail with no charges against him has been denied permission to return to Sweden by the present government here. A Swede finally released from the Guantanamo prison with no charges ever presented against him has lost his attempt to get compensation for the years of detention on the island.

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