Program Updates

PSOT Honors Jane Mayer and Richard Gottfried at its 2009 Benefit!

On Thursday, October 8, PSOT held its annual benefit in the Old Library at Bellevue Hospital. With your help, over 165 people attended and we raised over $15,000! Cristina Hernandez y Su Grupo International spiced up the evening with salsa and boleros.  Pasang Dolma, a professional Tibetan singer performed for the group as well.  We want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all who contributed to the evening. The event was only made possible because of your generosity and commitment to our program. We would also like to give a very special thanks to Jane Mayer and Richard Gottfried, our honorees, who both gave eloquent, inspiring speeches concerning advocacy on behalf of survivors of torture.

The money raised from the benefit will ensure that our patients receive the medical, mental health and social services they need in the weeks and months to come. During this time especially, your contributions are greatly appreciated. But it is not too late to support PSOT!  Click on the link to the left to make a donation

Five Marathon Runners Raise Money for PSOT!

Five runners are preparing to run marathons to raise money for PSOT in the next couple of weeks. Carin Mirowitz and Hattie Hill will run the Columbus Marathon on October 18th, and John Wilkinson and Bethany Hetrick will run the New York Marathon on November 1st. In addition, Elior Shiloh has recently joined forces with the team and will be running the Philly Marathon on November 22nd on behalf of PSOT! Thank you, Elior!

Please come out and support PSOT and our five Marathon Runners at a Happy Hour on Tuesday, October 27th from 7 to 10 P.M.

What: Benefit Mixer

When: Tuesday, October 27 from 7 to 10 pm.

Where: Arctica Bar, Ice Room - 384 3rd Ave between 27th -28th St.

Goal: Raise money to provide medical and mental health care, as well as social and legal services to survivors of torture and war trauma and their family members. 

Who: All friends of PSOT  

PSOT Benefit is October 8, 2009

Dear Friends,

Please join us on October 8 for the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT) 2009 Benefit. We will be honoring New Yorker Journalist Jane Mayer and New York State Assemblyman Dick Gottfried for their exceptional work in advocating against torture. We look forward to a wonderful evening and hope that you will come to support PSOT and acknowledge our honorees.

Asher Aladjem, M.D.
Event Chair, Chief Psychiatrist, Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture

Allen S. Keller, M.D.
Director, Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture

RSVP and Purchase Tickets Until October 6 Online Here!

PSOT Director Coauthors Report on Medical Participation in U.S. Torture

PSOT Director Dr. Allen Keller coauthored a report recently released by Physicians for Human Rights titled "Aiding Torture," which details how the CIA relied on the expertise of medical and mental health professionals to carry out abusive and unlawful interrogations. The report was cited in a New York Times editorial on September 3, 2009. "Clearly, there is a need for a full investigation concerning U.S. policies and torture including the role of health professionals," says Dr. Keller. "Health professionals participated in torture must be held accountable, including criminal prosecution and loss of licensure."

"As a psychologist who cares for torture survivors, I find it particularly troubling that members of our profession were central to devising and carrying out such brutal and ultimately harmful policies," says PSOT Director of Clinical Services, Dr. Hawthorne Smith.

Now That's Trampling

The juxtaposition on the front page of yesterday's New York Times was chilling. A photograph showed an irate town hall attendee screaming at Arlen Specter with the accompanying caption "You're trampling on the Constitution." Beneath, was an unrelated article entitled "Two US Architects of Harsh Tactics in 9/11's Wake." Click here to read the full text of Dr. Keller's article on The Huffington Post.

Concerns Raised over Harmful Health Consequences of Indefinite Detention

In a statement sent to members of the United States Senate, The Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT), The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) raised concerns regarding the substantial health concerns of indefinite detention, which is being considered by Congress and the Obama Administration. The organizations note that: “Medical knowledge and experience clearly demonstrate that indefinite detention without charge or trial results in harmful mental health consequences including severe depression and anxiety… A responsible debate of the prospects of indefinite detention in Congress must include open acknowledgement of the serious medical consequences.”

Noted PSOT Director, Dr. Allen Keller, “Indefinite detention results in pain and suffering well above what occurs simply  by virtue of being imprisoned. The uncertainty implicit in indefinite detention is profoundly traumatizing with serious health consequences.”

PSOT Marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture by Raising over $3,000 for Client Transportation

June 26 is the International Day of Support of Victims of Torture.  In conjunction with this day, our ESL and interpreter volunteers planned an event to help raise over $3,000 to purchase Metrocards for clients to use for travel to classes and appointments at the program. Thanks to everyone who came out to make it a successful event.  Thanks especially to our organizers Sarah Benckart, Inbal Samin and Nicole Deutsch who pulled together an excellent party and brought in so many attendees. 

On December 12th, 1997, the UN declared June 26th the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture. This day, guaranteed within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, emphasizes the right of security and personal dignity to all individuals around the world. The main objective of this day is to create solidarity between torture victims, to remind the general public that torture ranks among one of the most heinous and blatant violation of human rights, and to draw attention to the widespread torture still present in the world today. For this reason, every year on June 26th, people take the occasion to announce their opposition to torture.

Torture by Any Other Name

Misconceptions and distortions about torture by former Vice President Cheney and other former Bush administration officials are, if nothing else, impressive for their hubris. In a speech last Thursday, Mr. Cheney asserted that "tough" or "enhanced" interrogation methods were legal, essential, effective, and were not torture. Click here to read the rest of Dr. Keller's article on the Huffington Post.

Making His List: Presidential Pardons and Torture

Tis the season. Santa had his naughty or nice gift list and checked it twice. President Bush is still working on his list-the one granting pardons. And while a Brooklyn developer at the center of a fraud scheme has already been scratched, will those who conceived and implemented this administration's torture policy make the final cut? As a physician who evaluates and cares for torture victims the prospect of such pardons is chilling to say the least. They would be pre-emptive pardons since no one responsible for torturing detainees in U.S. custody with the exception of 'a few bad apples on the night shift at Abu Grhaib' have ever been prosecuted. The pardon may be quite general-covering anyone, including the president himself, who fought the good fight in the war on terror. Click here to read the full text of Dr. Keller's article on Huffington Post.

Sojourners Visitation Program with Detained Immigrants and Asylum Seekers Presents the Film: The Visitor

This presentation will include special guest panel speakers including: Director Tom McCarthy, Representatives from the ACLU, Human Rights First and Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, and a former detainee from the Elizabeth Detention Center, Elizabeth, NJ.

When: Weds, December 10th, 2008-Human Rights Day, 6:00-9:00 pm (International House-500 Riverside Dr., between 122nd and 123rd St.)

*The event is free, but donations at the door are greatly appreciated. There will be an RSVP wine and cheese reception for $20 with the director and panelists after the event, from 9-10pm. Please RSVP for the reception only at –

Film Synopsis: In The Visitor, Tom McCarthy's follow-up to his award-winning directorial debut The Station Agent, an American college professor and a young immigrant couple grapple with the treatment of immigrants and the legal process post-9/11.

Presented in partnership with National Immigrant Justice Center, Detention Watch Network, Participant Media and Active Voice, Human Rights First, Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, Breakthrough, New York Immigration Coalition, ACLU, Columbia University SIPA Human Rights Working Group, The International House (NYC) and The Riverside Church

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