Coss on Cheney: It may not be the most pressing issue for Santa Feans, but it is one vexing President Obama, armies of lawyers and untold thousands trapped in modern-day dungeons: torture.
At the June 10 Santa Fe City Council meeting, Mayor David Coss will ask his colleagues to endorse the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. That day, June 26, marks the 22nd anniversary of the UN Convention Against Torture—a treaty top human rights lawyers say the US broke repeatedly during the “war on terror.” The resolution skirts a controversial question: Should high-ranking members of the Bush Administration—like former Vice President Dick Cheney, who ordered and now publicly defends “enhanced interrogation techniques”—face prosecution?
“I support prosecution,” Coss says. Specifically, he favors a “truth commission” and prosecution for the torture policy makers “where warranted.”
Rape Claim Against Yoga Guru: The Cordova Road Dahn Yoga studio now advertises its “Brain Wave Vibration” classes with a large banner facing Trader Joe’s customers. Earlier this year, SFR reported on the controversial organization’s campaign to win endorsements from elected officials.
The plot thickened late last month, as a group of former Dahn students and instructors sued the organization and its founder, Ilchi Lee, in federal district court in Arizona. Cathleen Mann, a Colorado psychologist and designated plaintiffs’ expert on the case, writes to SFR that this is a “one of a kind lawsuit, which is pretty devastating to the Dahn organization and its leader, Ilchi Lee.”
The lawsuit includes a graphic allegation of sexual assault perpetrated by the founder, whose given name is Seung Huen Lee, against Jessica Harrelson of Massachusetts, who joined Dahn in 2003. By 2005, the group sent Harrelson to training in Korea. After returning to Boston, Lee quickly summoned her back to Korea; she complied. One night in Korea, she claims, Lee lured her into bed, forced her to perform oral sex, then raped her. Harrelson could not consent to sex, the complaint says, because “she had been indoctrinated by Dahn to ignore her inner will and desires, and to subsume her will to the leader, Ilchi Lee.” The suit suggests Harrelson was not the first to have such an experience.
In addition to seeking damages for psychological trauma, the suit alleges labor law violations, fraud and racketeering. The Dahn organization has settled previous lawsuits out of court.
“Our position is that the lawsuit is frivolous and based on complete falsehoods,” Dahn spokesman Joseph Alexander says. The plaintiffs are “a few disgruntled employees” out of 2,000 who “want money.”
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