|File photo by AFAD|
Until now, hundreds of thousands of families around the world are in the eternal search for answers and endless grief to find closure. They are continuously tormented by the fact that as time passes by, they remain uncertain of the fate and whereabouts of their dear desaparecidos. They are being deprived by their own governments of their right to know the truth and to obtain justice. They are forever placed in limbo of hope and despair without knowing when to mourn and to start moving on.
Enforced disappearance is undeniably one of the cruelest forms of human rights violations. It is not only an affront to the person’s basic rights and fundamental freedom but also a trample on the human dignity of the disappeared and of his or her family. It is a tragedy hovering everywhere. Based on the 2012 report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID), enforced disappearance is occuring in 84 countries around the world. It is most prevalent in the Asian region, a continent where there is no strong regional mechanisms for protection and redress.
In many Asian countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand and Timor Leste, enforced disappearance is brazenly practiced with absolute impunity. It is commonly utilized as a repressive tool to stifle dissent and silence opposition. It is also carried out by foreign states against citizens of other countries in order to pursue their interest in long standing territorial disputes like what North Korea is doing to South Korean people.
Enforced disappearance does not only destroy the lives it touches; it sows paralyzing fear in society. Those who found courage to stand for their rights have to face the consequence of political persecution and deadly hostilities by governments against human rights defenders like what Adil Rahman, president of Odhikar in Bangladesh and Parvez Imroz, patron of the Association of Parents of the disappeared Persons in Kashmir, India have to undergo.
But despite difficulties, many families found strength in their unity and solidarity. Their spirited and vigorous efforts made possible not only the recognition of this global concern but the need for a global response. Thus, the United Nations General Assembly adopted in 2006 the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance aimed at combating the crime of enforced disappearance by establishing the truth, punishing the perpetrators and providing reparation, guaranteeing the historical memory of victims and ensuring non-repetition. To date, 93 states have already signed and 40 have ratified this very important international human rights treaty.
Today, in the observance of All Souls’ Day, the Asian Federation Against involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) joins hands with all the families of the disappeared and human rights advocates in Asia and around the world in remembering and honoring all the Desaparecidos. They may not have graves to visits, tomb to light candles and to offer flowers but they will forever dwell in our hearts and minds. On this day, we renew our lifetime commitment to continue the journey towards a world without disappearances and injustices.
Every desaparecido deserves an endless remembering by their loved ones.
MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
Rms. 310-311 Philippine Social Science Center Bldg.,
Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, 1103 Quezon City