May 25-29, 2015
Every last week of May, we commemorate the International Week of the Disappeared (IWD), a painful reminder that thousands of families still await information on the fate of their loved ones who have disappeared and thousands of disappeared persons are waiting to be freed from the unknown prisons where they are kept. The IWD was incepted by the Latin American Federation of Associations for Relatives of Disappeared-Detainees (FEDEFAM), which, in turn, was adopted by families of the disappeared across the world.
The International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) and its 53 member-organisations campaign for the universal ratification and implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPED), the recognition of the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the enactment of domestic laws criminalizing enforced disappearances. It is the most emblematic way to pay tribute to the disappeared and their families.
May 24 -30, 2015 - This week, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances and the rest of the global movement against enforced disappearances commemorate the International Week of the Disappeared. Around the world, family members, especially wives, mothers and daughters of victims of enforced disappearance have been trapped by the disappearance of their husbands, sons and brothers. They continue to be in a state of limbo, living with the haunting shadows of a cruel past. Families of the disappeared have been suffering from the social, psychological, legal, and economic effects of the disappearance of their loved ones.
Their unrelenting struggle for truth and justice has transformed them into courageous human rights defenders, propelled by the quest to stand up for their right to know the fate and whereabouts of their disappeared loved ones. Amidst pain, their courage and determination in the pursuit for truth and justice permit them to overcome the devastating consequences of enforced disappearance.
The authority of the Government emanates from the People. The world must be made safe and democracy is an important form of government that would make this possible. Its peace must be founded upon the three pillars of human dignity, justice and liberty. To make democracy work, we must be active participants to making it possible and not be mere spectators of the repression and impunity unfolding before us.
Today, 35 years ago on May 18th, a pivotal event unfolded in South Korea that has become an inspiration for democratic movements in Asia and the rest of the world. Hundreds died and many disappeared in that struggle for democracy long deprived to the people of South Korea after several years of dictatorship.
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) joins the People of South Korea and the rest of the world during the 35th anniversary of commemorating the extraordinary patriotism of all those who sacrificed their lives and those who participated in the struggle for the restoration of liberty in the May 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters courageously broke the shackles of dictatorship by sacrificing their lives and emerged victorious raising the torch of the flame of freedom. Those who lost their lives and all involved in that historic and heroic moment will always win the respect and commendation of humankind for daring to confront the bloodshed of battle for their country’s liberty.
To the attention of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UN WGEID)
On the occasion of its 106th Session
The Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearances (AFAD) wishes to express its deepest concern about human rights violations in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos PDR) and would like to draw the attention of the Working Group to the alarming situation of enforced disappearances, which constitutes an obstacle to the implementation of the 1992 Declaration.
Distinguished Members of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances,
Laos is a signatory to the main international human rights instruments including the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPED); yet, the practice of enforced disappearances in the Lao PDR is alarming.
Indeed, Laos can be described as an authoritarian one-party State: Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) is the only party recognized by the 1991 Constitution. Powers are concentrated in the hands of the executive: the National Assembly merely approves laws that were already vetted by the executive; it can virtually override any decisions made by the judiciary or other institutions. Generally, the Lao PDR tends to make use of a reference to “national stability” to justify a shrinkage of the room that is left for democracy. Transparency International ranked Laos 145 out of 175 countries at the last corruption perception index. Laos has recently passed a decree restricting freedom of speech, rendering online criticism of the Government illegal. On the occasion of the last Universal Periodic Review, several delegations have expressed concern over the shrinking space for civil society and freedom of expression.