On June 26th 2019, Spirasi held its annual celebration of the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture at A&L Goodbody.

Zishan Sajid, who interned with Spirasi over the Summer of 2019 reflects on Spirasi's annual celebration of UN International Day.

On the 26th of June 2019, Spirasi celebrated the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture with a lunchtime reception at A&L Goodbody. The ceremony hosted over 80 attendees from all around Ireland, ranging from torture survivors, solicitors, doctors, government officials and NGO representatives including the UNHCR. The venue was beautifully decorated with original artwork by a torture survivor and a vast assortment of delicious food provided by A&L Goodbody for guests.

After some time of mingling and eating food, Dr. Anna Sheane kicked off the event with the running order of guest speakers.


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Our first speaker, Dr. Agis Terzidis from METAdrasi, spoke about the necessity of early identification and providing support to victims of torture in Greece. He described his own work at METAdrasi and highlighted the immediate need for a vulnerability assessment for torture survivors.

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Next, members from the Survivors Group at Spirasi reflect on their experiences of torture and rehabilitation. One speaker, a client of Spirasi since 2013, bravely discussed the challenges of living in direct provision accommodation and engaging with therapy. “I would travel an 8-hour journey to and from train just to get to my appointment. I loved these journeys as it meant breaking the circle of life in direct provision; waking up to eat, then sleeping”. He continued saying, “therapy did help me significantly” as it gave him a space where he had “someone to talk to and listen without judging”. The speaker concluded his speech by offering special thanks to Spirasi for equipping him with the “tools to deal with his challenges”.


In another speech, one survivor discussed her experience of torture and the humanitarian crisis in her home country. One especially powerful quote from her speech was: “Torture is prohibited but the human imagination for brutality knows no boundaries”.


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After our compelling client speeches, the director of Spirasi, Rory Halpin, gave his closing remarks and offered thanks to all those that had attended. As his speech came to a close, Rory emphasized the urgent need for organizations to continue supporting these vulnerable populations.

“We continue to fight because it is the compassionate thing to do- it’s the right thing to do”.


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In marking the end of this annual event,  survivor Kirabu and Dr. Anna Sheane lit a candle and offered a moment of silence for all; a testament to the lives that have been affected by torture and a signal of hope for those still seeking help.


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