Friday, August 30, 2013

Combating Disappearances in Asia; From Impunity to Accountability!

In January 1981 in San Jose, Costa Rica, the victims and families of victims of enforced disappearances from Latin American countries held the First and Founding Congress of FEDEFAM and created a slogan that later for decades became their encouragement; No Hay Dolor Inutil. They know very well and put this confidence in their struggle for justice; There Is No Useless Pain! The pain they have been feeling and experiencing during years of military dictatorship.

It was also during this occasion that they adopted 30 August as the International Day for the Disappeared (IDD). They wanted to dedicate a day in one year for their disappeared loved ones. On IDD, they raise their voice loud for the government to listen: Where are their loved ones?

Three decades later in Asia, after the United Nations officially adopted the IDD as an internationally acknowledged day for the disappeared in 2011, the same call heard again. This time very very much louder.

It is still a big challenge to make disappearances as a history of the past in Asia. The continent still contributes the biggest portion of cases to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances as compared to other regions. Only four countries ratified the International Convention against Enforced Disappearances; Japan, Kazakhstan, Iraq and Cambodia. Other countries in the region that are still practicing the crimes are not committed to to prevent, let alone combat this heinous crime. They still very much enjoy the dark era of impunity despite the fact that Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations frequently says that we have been moving from the Era of Impunity to Era of Accountability.

Ah, C'mon Mr. Presidents and Prime Ministers!

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