Most people, one might imagine, would not have to entertain the thought of personal persecution to the level that you might see in some of the more gritty and gruesome movies. Torture scenes are hard to stomach, in part because of the barbarity, and also because of the thought that some other person somewhere in the world may have gone through something like it. If it can be imagined, it has probably been, or will be done.
I came across a snippet of a torture manual from Cambodia during the days of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. In almost cheery, patronizing verbiage, this section described how “we” [the communist party] are trying to help our fellow men. At times, this meant that “we” must “struggle” with them for their sake and the sake of the revolution. It then gave step-by-step instructions on how to “struggle” in the interrogation room:
- Induce political pressure through propaganda.
- Offer reassurance, build rapport, and generate empathy.
What did this look like? It started by constantly showing the “enemy” things that weren’t true and getting them to agree or become confused. The lies might be about the world, your beliefs, your current situation in the room, or your family and friends; it depended on the reason for your arrest. Once the initial resistance was broken down, the interrogator would shift to the role of a friend. They were instructed to say that they could offer you food, water, some small comfort, safety for your family, or even your job back within the party. These are also lies, but the subject’s endurance is waning and it’s becoming hard to tell. Anything to get you to give up.
To the Khmer Rouge, politics was most important, or, “torture is only secondary to political expediency.” In other words, the goal is to make you confess, capitulate, inform, deny, or whatever. Torture was there to seal the deal. You see, the point of torture was not to get the answers out of you. The manual talks about how answers taken through duress usually end up being false. Torture was simply to show what could be done to you. It was usually administered after you are already given up your integrity.
My dear fellow disciple. This world is your interrogation room. Many are giving up long before they are put to the hot iron. You are going to suffer in some way for Christ. Let it be done without denying your King.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pet. 5:8-11)