Wednesday, March 5, 2008

law of belligerent occupation

In general, I avoid gut-wrenching posts. But this document I ran across begged me to be released from its binding and set out into the world (again). I offer it to Mukasey for (further) consideration and to you as evidence of a dishearteningly long trend in U.S. history. (In fairness, I should note that descriptions like this soured Americans on war in Southeast Asia - a least for a few decades.)

What follows is a description of the "water cure" for Philippine independence (a "malady" that had produced a Philippine Constitution and a Republic that lived for two short years):

“the water cure is plain hell. The native is thrown upon the ground, and, while his legs and arms are pinioned, his head is raised partially so as to make pouring in the water an easier matter. An attempt to keep the mouth closed is of no avail; a bamboo stick or a pinching of the nose will produce the desired effect. And now the water is poured in, and swallow the poor wretch must or strangle. A gallon of water is much, but it is followed by a second and a third. By this time the victim is certain his body is about to burst. But he is mistaken, for a fourth or even a fifth gallon are poured in. By this time the body becomes an object frightful to contemplate: and the pain agony.[*] While in this condition, speech is impossible; and so the water must be squeezed out of him. This is sometimes allowed to occur naturally but is sometimes hastened by pressure, and ‘sometimes we jump on them to get it out quick,’ said a young solider to me with a smile…. Does it seem possible that cruelty could further go? And what must we think of the fortitude of the native when we learn that many times the ‘cure’ is twice given ere the native yields? I heard of one who took it three times, and died.”
*generally the stomachs of victims became grossly distended by these gallons of water.

From Recto, The Law of Belligerent Occupation (1946), 344-5.

1 comment:

Trust in Steel said...

The depth of human depravity is often veiled by modern society. However, it remains an unfortunate, yet everpresent, fact that is endemic to all societies - past, present, and future. The particular incarnations can be mitigated by changing social mores, but never fully extinguished. New manifestations will always emerge necessitating vigilant opposition by virtuous individuals.