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Bring the Disappeared Home!
hit : 746    (2013-08-30)

NKHR is a member of AFAD, a coalition of NGOs that work for the return of disappeared people and the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Below is AFAD's statement on August 30, the International Day of the Disappeared. 

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances 

Bring the Disappeared Home! 

On the commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared (IDD), the Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearances (AFAD) calls on governments in Asia and the world to BRING HOME VICTIMS OF ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE! In so doing, these governments must sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, recognize the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance and enact domestic laws criminalizing enforced disappearances. 

Enforced disappearance is when someone is taken away by agents of governments, usually by security forces like the military or police. This act is followed by the denial or concealment of a persons fate or whereabouts, in effect removing them from the protection of law. 

Who are the disappeared? 

They are women and men from various sectors in our society who struggled for issues and principles beyond themselves -for freedom, justice and democracy; for basic human rights to equitable distribution of land and other resources; for decent work and housing; for indigenous and other identity rights issues; for accountability and good governance and freedom of expression, among other things. Some of them were also innocent civilians affected by government programs in conflict affected areas. Majority of them are males from marginalized sectors who struggled for basic rights to live a life of dignity. 

Recent victims of disappearance include those critical of big development projects that will impact on the environment and displace people like Sombath Somphone of Lao. Others are human rights defenders and activists like Muslim lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit of Thailand, journalists Prageeth Eknaligoda of Sri Lanka, Mukunda Sedhai of Nepal, Jonas Burgos of the Philippines, among others. 

There are thousands of disappeared peoples around the world. Those transmitted to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) to Governments since its creation in February 1980 only totalto 53, 986 as of its 2012 Annual Report presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2013. There are 42, 889 active cases committed in 84 States, 21 of these are from Asia that have not yet been clarified, closed or discontinued. Each of this case represents a human life lost because of enforced disappearance. Documenting cases has been so difficult especially in countries under repressive regimes or continuing armed conflict situations. 

In the 2012 annual report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the following Asian countries were reviewed and outstanding cases reported at the end of the review (both old and new cases) include: Bangladesh (11), Bhutan (five), China (30), Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (20), India (353), Indonesia (162), Iran (518), Iraq (16, 401), Japan (0), Israel (2), Jordan (2), Kuwait (1), Kyrgyzstan (0), Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (1), Lebanon (313), Libya (9), Myanmar (1), Nepal (458), Pakistan (99), Philippines (621), Republic of Korea (0), 

Saudi Arabia (4), Sri Lanka (5,676), Syria (72), Tajikistan (4), Thailand (71), Timor Leste (428), Turkmenistan (1), United Arab Emirates (5), Uzbekistan (8), Vietnam (1), Yemen (2) and State of Palestine (3).i 

One victim of enforced disappearance is worse enough. 

This heinous crime and the magnitude of its occurrence in 84 countries prompted the United Nations General Assembly to declare, through resolution 66/209, August 30 as International Day of the Disappeared. This day is aimed to highlight attention of States and the world community to this grave human rights violation and also to remind victims, including the families and associations of victims of those who disappeared, that they are not alone. 

Families of the disappeared, who are mostly female-headed, are faced with a lot of difficulties. Aside from the economic dislocation due to the loss of their breadwinner, there is indifference from the public and labeling according to Mrs. Edith Burgos, mother of Jonas from the Philippines. They also face harassments in the course of their search for their missing loved ones and some of them were disappeared, too. 

Associations of families of the disappeared are pushing their respective governments to sign and ratify the Convention because the very crime of enforced disappearance is not recognized in many of Asian governments. Paragraphs, 4 and 5 of the Article 24 of the anti-disappearance Convention stipulate victims rights to reparation, prompt, fair and adequate compensation. It states that reparation maybe in the following: restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction, including restoration of dignity and reputation and guarantees of non-repetition. 

The victims and families of the disappeared are seeking the support of each one of us. For every disappeared person, there are families – wives and children who are in pain and are continually seeking justice. They call on our sense of family, our sense of community, of human rights and justice to help them BRING THEIR DISAPPEARED LOVED ONES HOME! 

Signed and authenticated by: 

MUGIYANTO, Chairperson 

MARY AILEEN BACALSO,  Secretary-General 

i Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, accessed from http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A.HRC.22.45_English.pdf 

IDD, August 30, 2013-final.pdf