by Elizabeth Vos, Disobedient Media:
Solitary confinement is torture. It is torture when it is used in prisons, against adults and teenagers like Kalief Browder. It was torture when it was imposed on Chelsea Manning, and it is torture that is now being applied to WikiLeaks Editor-In-Chief Julian Assange.
What exactly constitutes torture, and why does solitary confinement fall under its definition? The term is defined in the online Oxford English Dictionary thus: “1. The action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or in order to force them to do or say something. Eg: ‘the torture of political prisoners,’ or ‘confessions extracted under torture.’ 1.1. Great physical or mental suffering. 1.2. A cause of great physical or mental suffering.”
Clearly, by this standard Julian Assange is experiencing torture in the form of great mental and physical suffering stemming from his long-term, indefinite confinement without medical care, now exacerbated by Ecuador’s imposition of near-complete social isolation.
Assange was already facing the beginning of his sixth year spent in arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London before Ecuador’s implementation of total isolation. The lengthy period of arbitrary confinement followed approximately two years under house arrest. Wikileaks recently likened Assange’s current circumstances to solitary confinement on Twitter:
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) 8 April 2018
Chelsea Manning described her experience in solitary confinement in a 2016 opinion piece published in The Guardian: “Solitary confinement is ‘no touch’ torture, and it must be abolished. ” “…..Shortly after arriving at a makeshift military jail, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in May 2010, I was placed into the black hole of solitary confinement for the first time. Within two weeks, I was contemplating suicide. After a month on suicide watch, I was transferred back to US, to a tiny 6 x 8ft (roughly 2 x 2.5 meter) cell in a place that will haunt me for the rest of my life: the US Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia. I was held there for roughly nine months as a “prevention of injury” prisoner, a designation the Marine Corps and the Navy used to place me in highly restrictive solitary conditions without a psychiatrist’s approval.”