But again there must be some allowance made for the technique of
striking without marking.

—Justice Kelly, Northern Ireland, March 1980,
judgment in the case of Edwin Brophy1


16
Fists and Exercises

In this chapter, I describe two additional “stress and duress” techniques in the late twentieth century. These techniques are striking bodies in ways that do not leave marks (clean beating) and forcing prisoners to exercise ceaselessly until they drop (exhaustion exercises).

Prisoners tend to report the worst that torturers do, and they may pass over common practices like those I discuss here. Likewise, human rights monitors have rarely reported elements of clean beating as distinctive techniques (the telèfono being the main exception). Considering everything else that happened to torture victims, clean beating hardly seemed worth reporting.

The existing accounts do suggest that clean beating has become more common in more countries or, at least, that prisoners regard these techniques as important enough to report today. Moreover, when one considers which police forces used the broadest range of clean beating procedures, one repeatedly finds democratic policemen, usually using these procedures alongside positional tortures such as forced standing.

Similarly, exhaustion exercises were largely unknown in torture in the early twentieth century. They appear first in colonies of democracies (Britain and France), democracies (the United States), and subsequently in two authoritarian states in the 1930s (Germany and Japan). In the 1950s, exhaustion exercises persisted only in the colonies of democratic states (France and Britain) and two authoritarian states (Romania and North Korea). They then appeared in authoritarian states under high levels of international scrutiny, first Spain and Greece in the 1960s, then spreading throughout Latin America and East Asia.

-334-

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Torture and Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Torture and Democracy xxv
  • Introduction 1
  • I - Torture and Democracy 33
  • 1: Modern Torture and Its Observers 35
  • 2: Torture and Democracy 45
  • II - Remembering Stalinism and Nazism 65
  • 3: Lights, Heat, and Sweat 69
  • 4: Whips and Water 91
  • 5: Bathtubs 108
  • III - A History of Electric Stealth 121
  • 6: Shock 123
  • 7: Magnetos 144
  • 8: Currents 167
  • 9: Singing the World Electric 190
  • 10: Prods, Tasers, and Stun Guns 225
  • 11: Stun City 239
  • IV - Other Stealth Traditions 259
  • 12: Sticks and Bones 269
  • 13: Water, Sleep, and Spice 279
  • 14: Stress and Duress 294
  • 15: Forced Standing and Other Positions 316
  • 16: Fists and Exercises 334
  • 17: Old and New Restraints 347
  • 18: Noise 360
  • 19: Drugs and Doctors 385
  • V - Politics and Memory 403
  • 20: Supply and Demand for Clean Torture 405
  • 21: Does Torture Work? 446
  • 22: What the Apologists Say 480
  • 23: Why Governments Don't Learn 519
  • 24: The Great Age of Torture in Modern Memory 537
  • A - A List of Clean Tortures 553
  • B - Issues of Method 557
  • C - Organization and Explanations 566
  • D - A Note on Sources for American Torture During the Vietnam War 581
  • Notes 593
  • Selected Bibliography 781
  • Index 819
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