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Training for law-enforcement personnel
17.10.2008 @ 12:29 | Site News

Since the beginning of 2008 the Center ACET has been working on a project “Strengthening the system for reception, referral and care for torture victims in Bulgaria”. As a part of this project a training seminar was held with the participation of the staff from the Center for temporary accommodation of foreigners (CTAF) under the inistry of Interior. The topic was “Identification, interviewing and studying the cases of torture victims and other vulnerable people, detained at the Center for temporary accommodation of foreigners”. The programme of the seminar was designed according to the preliminary training needs assessment of the staff conducted by ACET. During the seminar the following topics were covered: Torture: definition, aims, dissemination, types, consequences; identification of victims of inhuman, degrading treatment and torture; Trauma and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Secondary traumatisation – coping with stress and burn-out.


Publisher: Centre ACET


Public hearing in the European parliament
20.09.2008 @ 15:36 | Site News

Dr. Evgeni Genchev, a psychotherapist at the Center ACET took part in a tree-day public hearing on the theme “Totalitarian Regimes and the opening of the secret files archives in Central and Eastern Europe”. The public hearing took place in the European Parliament, Brussels from 17 to 19 September 2008. The discussion is provoked by the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, adopted on 3rd June 2008 during a conference in the Czech capital.
During the forum the participants provided comprehensive information about what has been done till now in their countries; gave best practice examples; evaluated the ongoing problems and the ways to resolve them.
The exchange of experience in research and documentation between the ex communist regimes in Europe and the rest member states of the European Union was the other aim of the organizers.
The discussion was organized by the members of the European Parliament - Gisela Kallenbach, Els de Groen, Milan Horacek, with the cooperation of their Bulgarian colleagues MEPs - Petya Stavreva and Dushana Zdravkova.
The Bulgarian participation was also presented by Evtim Kostadinov, Chairman of the Commission for disclosure of the archives of the former totalitarian secret service Durzhavna Sigurnost; Ekaterina Boncheva, Member of the same Commission; and Hristo Hristov, a journalist from Dnevnik Newspaper.


Publisher: Centre ACET


Training of trainers
10.09.2007 @ 12:25 | Event

Within the frames of the international project “Providing and Enhancing Quality Rehabilitation Services for Second Generation Victims of Torture” in September third to seventh, a seminar took place in Leiden, the Netherlands. It was organized by Centrum 45, one of the five centres providing rehabilitation services to victims of torture, working on the project. Each of the partner organizations was represented by two specialists working with first, second and next generations’ victims of torture.
The international experts Mr. Danny Brom from Israel and Mr. Dario Lagas from Argentina were also invited.
The participants in the seminar presented a brief review of the situation of the traumatization of second generation victims of torture in their respective countries, as well as the possibilities and difficulties concerning the implementation of therapy and prevention. They referred to questions like:
• In what way does parents’ trauma pass to their children / through which mechanisms parents’ problems are being transmitted to children
• What are the consequences of parents’ traumatism for their children
• The therapeutical approaches to the treatment of second generation
Alongside therapeutical approaches, other accents of the seminar were the psychological and psychosocial researches on the transgenerational transfer of trauma. Leading researchers in this area such as Prof. Rolf Kleber /University of Utrecht/, Prof. M. van Aisendor, Dr Dani Brom /Israel Centre for Treatment and Psycho trauma/ presented their studies. Dr. Sita Zomers of the program for the prevention of traumatization at children with psychotic parents, Ms Ans van Blokland /Amsterdam Psychoanalytic Institute/ read lectures on how the consequences of parents’ traumatism can be got over in early child age. Another main topic discussed during the seminar was the preparation and fulfillment of training programs in different national and cultural contexts for specialists who care for traumatized people.
The participants in the seminar also took part in the symposium “The new second generation”, which took place in Amsterdam and was carried out by Centrum 45. Within the frames of the symposium four parallel working sessions were held at which different cases of second generation victims of torture have been presented and discussed. During these sessions the following questions were considered:
• the post-traumatic processes which are passing in the family in the aftermath of the traumatic events;
• the favourable family factors which improve the functioning of the family;
• the possibilities for family therapy



THE BULGARIAN MEDICS - FREE
25.07.2007 @ 10:32 | Site News

The morning of July 24, on board of the French government airplane, the Bulgarian nurses Mrs. Kristiana Vulcheva, Mrs. Nasya Nenova, Mrs. Valentina Siropulo, Mrs. Valya Chervenyashka, Mrs. Snezhana Dimitrova, as well as Dr. Zdravko Georgiev and Dr. Ashraf al-Hajuj (presently Bulgarian citizen) arrived in Bulgaria after nearly 9 years of suffering in the Libyan jails. They were escorted by the EU commissioner of external relations Mrs. Benita Ferrero – Waldner and Mrs. Cecilia Sarkozy, wife of the French president Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy. At their arrival on Bulgarian land the medics were acquitted by a decree of the Bulgarian president Mr Georgi Parvanov.
All the Bulgarian and foreign media had a wide broadcast of the liberation and return of the Bulgarian medics in their top news.
On this occasion Mrs. Mimoza Dimitrova – Director of ACET was guest in one of the Bulgarian national TVs (Nova Televisia) during the live broadcast of the arrival of the medics. She commented on the psychological sequels of the traumatic events to which the medics were exposed during the 9 years of detainment.
They were exposed to systematic violation of their human rights including torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, slow and unjust trial and different forms of deprivation.
The Bulgarian medics were convicted to capital punishment in May 2004 on the charges that on orders of foreign enemy secret services have infected with HIV virus 426 children in the hospital Al-Fattah in Benghazi. In December 2006 and July 2007 different Libyan courts have confirmed the death sentences of our compatriots.
To the testimonies of the convicted, in the initial period of their detention, they have been exposed to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment including torture with electricity, beatings with sticks, falanga, painful postures, treating with hot and cold water, strong light, threatening (including with dogs).
The different forms of deprivation, the medics were exposed to, include crowded cells, solitary confinement, deprivation from visits in the first 10 months, lack of a lawyer’s defense and after they had a lawyer assigned, his access to his clients has been frequently obstructed.
After their return the Bulgarian state has taken care of the medical and psychological assessment of their health in the military system for Bulgarian rangers coming back from their missions.
Still the question for the long term sequels to their psychological health remains open. They are more probable to unfold psychological problems in the period after the initial shock of their liberation and the necessity to readapt to the life in an environment they have forcefully been subtracted from for nearly 9 years.
The Assistance Center for Torture Survivors (ACET) in letters to the President and Prime-Minister has declared readiness to include in our free rehabilitation program the medics on their application.



The consequences of political persecution on the next generations
28.06.2007 @ 16:23 | 26 June

On the 26th of June in the hall of the Information Centre of the European Commission in Sofia a discussion on the topic: “The consequences of political persecution on the next generations” took place.
Mimoza Dimitrova /ACET/ presented the international project of Center ACET investigating the transgenerational aspects of trauma. The project is also aimed at developing programs for the support and therapy of second and third generation victims of torture and political persecution. The implementation of the project started in the beginning of 2007.
Freddie Foscolo spoke about his repression and its impact on the life of his own children.
He paid attention to the fact that there is a lack of ability to adequately evaluate the communist totalitarian past and thus deprives young people of references for the assessment of their own position in society.
Vasil Kadrinov stressed that the pressure to forget by force (“Let bygones be bygones, now we shall look ahead”) leads to the continuation of the suffering of the survivors of torture and persecution. He thinks that a more systematic and organized political education is needed in order young peoples’ resistance forces to discern any form of totalitarianism be increased.
Vania Jekova expressed her sorrow at the fact that in the current Bulgarian society the confessions of a State Security agent are preferred to the words of a human being who has suffered. She showed sequences from her movie “Catharsis”. It’s a documentary on “the crimes against moral and mankind”, devoted to the experiences of survivors from the camp on the island of Persin during the 50-ies of the 20th century.
L. Awanis spoke about the difficulties of being a refugee. Her husband has been politically persecuted, detained and tortured in the state of origin. These events have had serious consequences for her and her children and finally compelled her to leave the country in order to protect her children and family. She emphasized the painful consequences for the children from the persecution of their parents, the police raid in their home, the threats to their mother, and the absence of their father during the detention, the escape from their country and the ensuing adaptation to the new country.
E. Genchev /ACET/ summarized the statements of the participants in terms of the consequences for the next generations. He elaborated a thesis for the Bulgarian society as a post-repressive one, in which the aggression and violence in the current moment, which are still dominating, are viewed as a result of the denial and the lack of working – through process concerning violence against personality in the totalitarian communist society.
In the discussion which followed it was emphasized that young people should be better informed for the near past and that their ability to think in a critical way should be developed. In this connection, a proposition was made for the establishment of a national institution such as the “Institute of National Remembrance” in the other easterneuropean postcommunist countries.


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