KontraS is one of the member of AFAD. We are joint with the solidarity commemoration with our fellow in Quezon City, 29 August 2009.
STATEMENT ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE DISAPPEARED
On 30 August, International Day of the Disappeared, the world celebrates the lives of desaparecidos who are victims of a heinous offense that violates practically all human rights and is committed in the North and in the South, in war and in peace. Government security forces often conveniently label them “enemies of the state” to justify, albeit wrongfully, their enforced disappearance. They were made to disappear in the dead of night or in broad daylight leaving their families in pain and trepidation. The loss brought about by their sudden enforced disappearance is incalculable as they could have sustained their invaluable contribution to the building of a just, humane, progressive and peaceful community of nations. They were, indeed, potent catalysts of change in a world of inequities, aggression and exploitation.
Power holders unconscionably desecrate their memories even forcibly tearing down and taking away their memorial marker as in Kashmir. But no amount of physical violence, relentless threats and intimidation, perfidious condemnation or historical distortion can make us forget our beloved desaparecidos. They are forever present in our hearts and minds.
Today we, their families, friends and supporters, gather before the Wall of Remembrance at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani complex in Quezon City to honor and pay tribute to them. We collectively remember and thank them for their supreme sacrifice for freedom and democracy for all to enjoy a better life.
Today we give justice to the difficult lives they led by pursuing their ideals, which transcend national boundaries, races, cultures, political ideologies, and economic systems, toward a world without desaparecidos.
Attaining this challenging international mission requires global interventions that can guide local initiatives. In response, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on 18 December 1992. This notwithstanding associations of families of the disappeared led by FEDEFAM and other civil society organizations continued to steadfastly lobby the United Nations to adopt a legally binding normative instrument. The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) actively participated in the crafting and elaboration of the final draft of an anti-disappearance convention in 2005. Finally, fourteen years after the adoption of the Declaration, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on 20 December 2006.
Both the U.N. Declaration and the Convention consider the right against enforced disappearance to be non-derogable. Not even a state of war, threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may justify enforced disappearance. Both instruments seek the passage of domestic laws criminalizing enforced disappearance even as they both provide for ample preventive mechanisms to abate its commission.
To date, 81 countries have signed the Convention and 13 have already ratified it or 7 ratifications shy of the required number (20) for it to enter into force. Japan is the only Asian country which has signed and ratified the Convention. Thus, AFAD and FIND strongly urge other Asian countries more particularly India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Philippines to follow suit.
It would be a most fitting and lasting tribute to Filipino desaparecidos for the Philippine government to now enact into law the anti-enforced disappearance bill which is currently under plenary consideration by the Senate. The House of Representatives approved its own version of the measure five months ago and has duly transmitted it to the Senate.
Mr. Santiago Corcuera, Chairperson of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID), reported during the 10th session of the UN Human Rights Council in March 2009 that: “The total number of cases transmitted by the Working Group to Governments since its inception is 52,952. The number of cases under active consideration that have not yet been clarified, closed and discontinued stands at 42,393 and concerns 79 States…of the 79 states, 21 are Asian countries.”
In 2004, the biggest number of enforced disappearance cases brought before the UNWGEID came from Nepal. Thus, the newly installed government is strongly urged to enact a national law criminalizing enforced disappearance in lieu of the existing ordinance on disappearance that is found to be both procedurally and substantively flawed. It does not respond to the needs of the families of the victims. In Kashmir, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) has documented about 8,000 cases from 1989-2004. In Indonesia, the government continues to refuse to account for about 1,266 people who disappeared between 1965 and 2002 during Suharto’s “New Order” regime and Habibie’s interim government. In Pakistan, Human Rights Watch has documented scores of illegal detentions, instances of torture, and “disappearances.” Despite the difficulty of determining the actual number of victims of enforced disappearances in counterterrorist operations, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry has estimated the total at 1,100. In Thailand, the Relatives Committee of the May 1992 Heroes or victims of the Black May 1992 massacre in Bangkok has documented 253 cases of enforced disappearances and during the dictatorship of former Prime Minister Thaksin, innumerable cases occurred in the southern part of the country. In the Philippines, FIND has documented 1,782 cases out of the 2,116 that were reported from the Marcos regime to the Arroyo administration. Under the current administration 290 cases have been reported. Of the 165 documented by FIND, 54 remain missing, 94 have surfaced alive, and 17 were found dead.
Let us make the succeeding International Days of the Disappeared be marked by a diminishing number of desaparecidos even as we commit ourselves to make it finally disappear.
BREAK IMPUNITY AND UPHOLD HUMAN DIGNITY.
BRING PERPETRATORS OF ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE TO JUSTICE.
SIGN AND RATIFY THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF ALL PERSONS FROM ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE.
ENACT AN ANTI-ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE LAW.
|MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO