Monday, March 29, 2010

SA GLAAD Applauds Canada For Apprehending "Dr. Shock"

SA GLAAD applauds Canadian authorities for apprehending Dr Aubrey Levin, aka "Dr Shock" - a man who is believed to have fled to Canada to avoid facing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the 1990's - and for launching an inquiry into his activities in Canada and also for investigating charges of human rights abuses from when he was in South Africa. We welcome the fact that all criminal cases in Canada, in which this person has participated as a witness for the prosecution are currently also being reviewed. We applaud the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta for suspending Levin’s license to practice. We applaud Canada for the over-all thoroughness evident in the way this sensitive issue is being handled.

We express our sympathies and solidarity with the unfortunate Canadian victims now coming forward.

We would like to point out - as does the quote from the following newspaper article (which dates from 2000) - an entire decade ago, the blatant inaction and apathy which has overshadowed this matter from the very beginning, and which has allowed this unpleasant and most distasteful situation to spread outside the borders of South Africa.

"Some of the charges against Dr. Levin are not new.

The War Resister, a publication of the Committee of South African War Resisters, first blew the whistle on him in January 1987, for his alleged use of forced aversion shock therapy against gay conscripts.

Untouched by Charges of Abuse Ten years later, in June 1997, South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission named Levin for possible "gross human rights abuses" for the same reason (no mention was then made of the 'sex-change' program). However, the Commission apparently made no effort to serve him a subpoena. By then, Levin was already in Canada. Levin could still be prosecuted in South Africa for his alleged human rights abuses because he never applied the Commission for amnesty, nor was granted it.

Dr. Levin is not the only apartheid-era military psychiatrist linked to human rights abuses who continues to practice."

And yet, have ANY of these practitioners ever been charged or convicted for their crimes?

Why not? Judging by the amount of paperwork generated by advocacy groups since 1987 on this issue, and the number of victims interviewed by them, surely there was enough evidence to launch an inquiry?

Reading the plethora of articles on this case, the reams of claims, accusations and potential charges of abuse of human rights and assorted crimes against humanity which can and should be levelled at Levin - and resolved in a legal arena - and the stated support for this case as far back as 1987 - by so many organizations at various times, ranging from the SA Council of Churches to other social groups in a "coalition, which represents more than 74 lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual organizations in South Africa", we are wondering why this man was allowed to go unchallenged and unpunished for so long.

Levin's methodology of "aversion therapy" became outdated and obsolete when homosexuality ceased being viewed worldwide, as a "mental illness" in 1973. Why were these blatant violations of both the Geneva Convention and the Tokyo Declaration allowed and even allowed to be covered up?

Why did the TRC let him off the hook so easily? Why were these charges not made, why was he allowed to leave the country and why was he not extradited after the fact to face his accusers?

Numerous Apartheid medical figures responsible for torture and medical "experiments" performed on political prisoners solely on the grounds of race, remain imprisoned to this very day - yet this man never even faced charges for strikingly similar crimes based solely on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

News articles show that for years, Aubrey Levin has threatened publications and investigators with law suits to dissuade them from pursuing the matter, and relying on the legal premise that he has not been found guilty and therefore has to be innocent - and yet he has never been charged, has intentionally avoided facing such charges - and has also therefore, never been proven innocent.

It is indeed a pity that the technology which brought about his undoing in Canada did not exist at the height of his power in South Africa.

The TRC never charged him and the charges suggested by the TRC never even included his abuses against the pink community. This shocking failure on South Africa's part should not be forgotten. This decades-long fiasco highlights the fact that once again, South Africa has failed its GLBTIQ citizens and their families - and now another country has to fix it.

SA GLAAD expresses disappointment in the obvious fact that people in another country have been harmed because of the failings of a process which should have been resolved in South Africa at least ten years ago - but we are hopeful that Canadian justice will run its course and set things right, in the name of human rights - and that "Dr. Shock" will no longer be allowed to hurt anyone again.

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