Saturday August 30th marks the 25th anniversary of the International Day of the Disappeared. On this day human rights organisations and family members of the disappeared from all over the world call on their Heads of State to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
Enforced disappearances have occurred since the late seventies and continue to take place until this very day. What started as a Latin American phenomenon soon spread to other continents. On August 30 each year the families of the disappeared in all continents commemorate those who have been forcibly taken away.
Mary Aileen Bacalso, the Secretary-General of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) notes, “August 30 is very important for the families of the disappeared. It is the day wherein the families can collectively honor their memory. It is an insistence of their moral and spiritual presence despite their physical absence... “
In more than 20 countries events are expected with the aim to pay respect to disappeared persons as well as to campaign for the new Convention on enforced disappearances. Among those countries are Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines, Nigeria, Morocco, Belarus, France, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and Spain.
In Iraq family members of the disappeared from all the regions gather in Baghdad to give public testimonies of what occured to their relatives. Iraqi politcians are invited and asked to initiate the process of ratification of the Convention on enforced disappearances.
Bacalso: “August 30 is also a venue for families to call to their respective governments to sign and ratify the UN Convention. The UN Convention is very important for the families of the disappeared, especially in Asian countries where cases of the past remain unresolved and continue to occur.”
The call to sign and ratify the Convention is echoed by many family member organizations and human rights NGOs who have recently united their campaigns for the convention in the International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED).
Dave Hardy, coordinator of the ICAED states: “This Convention can become an effective tool for the international community to eradicate enforced disappearances. Universal ratification also represents a political message that this practice is no longer tolerated.”
The Convention provides for fundamental measures to prevent, investigate and sanction enforced disappearances. It realizes two new human rights, the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearance as well as the right for the relatives of the disappeared to know the truth.
For more information about the campaign activities and the Convention on disappearances, see www.icaed.org
The International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) gathers organisations of families of disappeared and NGO’s that work in a non-violent manner against the practice of enforced disappearances at the local, national and international level. The principal objective of ICAED is an early ratification and effective implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
Aim for human rights – Netherlands, Amnesty International, Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), Civil Initiative We Remember Foundation – Belarus, Collectif des Familles de Disparus en Algérie (CFDA) – Algeria, Euro-Med Federation Against Enforced Disappearances (FEMED), Fédération Internationale des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), Fédération Internationale de l’ACAT (FIACAT), Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos (FEDEFAM) Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Russian Justice Initiative – Russia, Liga Guatemalteca de Higiene Mental – Guatemala, TRIAL (Track Impunity Always – association suisse contre l’impunité) – Switzerland, Breaking the Walls of Silence – Namibia, AFAPREDESA - Western Sahara, Asociacíon Derechos Humanos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales en Guatemala (DESCGUA) – Guatemala, Disarmament and Non-Violence – Georgia, Lawyers for Human Rights- South Africa, National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) – Namibia, Colegio de Abogados - Peru, Association of Family Members of Disappeared - Sri Lanka, Asociación Pro-Búsqueda de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos de El Salvador - El Salvador, Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos – Peru, Asociacion de Detenidos-Desaparecidos, Ejecuciones Extrajudiciales y Torturados de Huancayo-Junin-Peru – Peru, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) – Philippines, Organisation Marocaine Des Droits HUMAINS – Morocco, Al-Ata’a for Human Rights Support – Iraq, Qatari Panituri – Peru, Institute for Community Policing – Nigeria, Association de Parents et Amis de Disparus au Maroc – Morocco, Comité de coordination des Familiies des Disparus au Maroc, Morocco, Asociacion por la recuperacion de la memoria historica de Catalunya (ARMHC - Spain).