Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rebecca’s click moment

I was looking up some more information on the history of psychiatric abuse in Soviet politics. I was astonished to discover that in the case of the biologist Zhores Medvedev, he was actually released less than 3 weeks after his illegal confinement. He was taken on May 29, 1970, and released on June 17, 1970. This occurred during the Brezhnev era, when it was extremely difficult to get political prisoners released from psychiatric confinement and from prisons and labor camps as well. So this case shows that with high-level pressure from Egyptians and Westerners, it is possible to get Maikel released quickly from psychiatric confinement. And so we need to act fast to help him and to get Western support for him.

I was thinking something else last night. Soviet dissidents, whatever their political persuasion, were strongly united in support of each other’s right to free speech. For this reason, when Zhores Medvedev, a liberal Communist was subjected to forcible psychiatric confinement, one of his defenders was the Russian nationalist and monarchist writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. So the unity among Soviet dissidents in defending each other’s right to free speech was powerful. Unfortunately, this sense of unity is non-existent in Egypt, where people only defend those who share their political views. So obviously most Egyptians are refusing to help Maikel because they disagree with either his pacifist views or his support of Israel and the Jews.

Also the support that Zhores Medvedev and the Russian mathematician Alexander Esenin-Volpin have received from their Soviet scientific colleagues contrasts sharply with the Egyptian scientists’ and politicians’ refusal to support Maikel. Mr. Esenin-Volpin was released after the Soviet regime received a protest from 99 Soviet mathematicians and scientists demanding his release in February, 1968. Maikel is a veterinarian by profession and so he should be getting support from his fellow vets and scientists in Egypt, but obviously he is not getting that support. After the Voice of America broadcast information on his case, Mr. Esenin-Volpin was released almost immediately. So the cases of Medvedev and Esenin-Volpin show that with political pressure from the West and Egypt, it would be possible to get Maikel released immediately.

Many other political dissenters in Soviet times spent many years in psychiatric prisons. Grigorenko spent 5 years from 1969 to 1974, and Victor Fainberg, one of seven Soviet dissidents to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 at a Red Square demonstration, spent 5 years in psychiatric prisons as well.

I found the following chilling discussion of the fate of the famous Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, who was forcibly confined in Soviet psychiatric hospitals for a few weeks in 1963: “Brodsky was given "tranquilizing" injections, wakened in the middle of the night, immersed into a cold bath, wrapped in a wet sheet, and put next to the heater so that the sheet would cut into his body when it dries.” This chilling description might help us know the horror of what Maikel could be experiencing right now and could give us the urgency to help him.[ I noted that Maikel seemed to be scared of his captors for the first time when he was forcibly subjected to psychiatric confinement. He feared rightly that they might try to inject him with dangerous drugs using the IVs.

I also found the appalling case of Viktor Rafalsky, who spent a total of 25 years in psychiatric prisons for his political dissent under both Khrushchev and Brezhnev (1954 to 1959, 1962-1965, 1968-1983).

I actually wrote this in my notebook a month ago. It was dated 9/25/2011. I had what feminists call a ‘click moment’ where you connect the various forms of oppression in your own life and in society and the world.

“I realized that Maikel resists and rejects all the assigned male roles within a patriarchal system:

1. He refuses to accept the male role of soldier and killing which is key to male identity in Arab and Muslim culture particularly.

2. He reaches out with love and compassion to the ‘enemy’: the Jew.

3. He refuses to hit, dominate, control, or abuse women and stands with the woman in solidarity with her struggle for equality and against male violence and oppression.

Beyond all this, Maikel is organizing and motivating other men like Ahmed Montaser to resist and reject these male roles of killing and soldiering through his no-conscription campaign.

The army is the ultimate patriarchal institution built upon force. This institution finds Maikel’s direct ideological challenge to them to be incredibly threatening. Hence the army needs to control him:

1. By putting him in prison
2. Isolating him from the support of friends and family
3. Denying him good food and essential medical care for his heart condition
4. Making him physically ill with scabies and allergies
5. Finally trying to exert the ultimate control over him by putting him in forcible psychiatric confinement.

You see that in the Russian army the commanders exert similar forms of control over their conscripts by:

1. Beating them severely
2. Subjecting them to extreme psychological terror
3. Denying them good food
4. And sometimes beating them to death.

The abusive husband and father in the patriarchal family also exercises similar forms of control over his victims – beating his wife and children, also terrorizing them psychologically, sometimes denying them good food and occasionally even murdering them. So the abusive father in the home is like the Egyptian or Russian army commander who beats conscripts and imprisons and brutalizes political prisoners like Maikel. A man like my father who brutalizes his wife and daughter in the home is acting just like the army commander who imprisons Maikel, denies him medical care and now subjects him to forced psychiatric confinement.

These revelations are very exciting to me. I’m seeing the connections between the various forms of abuse – in the home, the army, the political prison. So now I understand why I react so viscerally to Russian army conscripts being beaten or starved or emotionally terrorized by their commanders – because the emotional abuse these men suffered at the hands of their commanders reminds me of the emotional abuse I suffered at home at my father’s hands. And also the Russian army commanders withheld essential food and medical care from the men under their control – just as my father withheld the love and emotional support that I felt I needed to survive from me.

I can relate to all those abused women who worked so hard to get their mates to change in vain. I worked just as hard to win or earn my daddy’s love as they did to earn their mate’s love.

And now I see why I am so distraught to see Maikel being denied food and medical care and now being subjected to psychiatric torture by his captors. My abusers also threatened to stop paying for my food. They denied me essential medical, psychological, and psychiatric care and also psychiatric medicines just like Maikel was denied medical care and medicine for his heart condition. My dad attempted to eliminate me psychologically through systematic name-calling, and I see how the Egyptian army is trying to destroy Maikel psychologically through psychiatric torture.

I challenged my abusers in the home –and they attempted to control, dominate, and destroy me in return. Maikel challenged his tormentors in the Egyptian army, and they attempted to control, dominate, and destroy him in return.

I see that Maikel is successfully resisting his captors so far and I stand in awe and admiration of his courage in standing up to tyranny. I wish I had been as successful in resisting my captors while I was under their control as he has been in resisting the Egyptian military. But then again I have also finally figured out how to liberate myself from my abusers permanently, and so I can relate to Maikel’s valiant and brave attempt to free himself from his captors.”

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