On the occasion of the Fourth Congress of IKOHI, the other eleven member-organizations of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) congratulate all of you for your steadfastness in the continued search for truth and justice for your disappeared loved ones.
IKOHI’s members come from many generations of victims, dating back to the 1965-1966 massacres under the command of Gen. Suharto. Many of you are still here and AFAD salutes your courage, determination and hope. With your presence and support, whether big or small, few or far between, the succeeding generations are inspired to keep on with the struggle, for impunity still pervades in the country.
On September 26, a group of students travelling to Mexico City was attacked by police forces in the southern state of Guerrero. The incident left 6 dead and 43 missing. More than 40 days after the disappearance of the students, suspected gang members confessed to killing the missing students. Members of the said gang admitted to burning the bodies for 15 hours and throwing the remains in a nearby river.
This tragedy puts yet another punctuation mark on Mexico’s long history of human rights violations. It can only by presumed what kind of torture these students were exposed to after they were abducted and before they were handed over to the Guerreros Unidos cartel to be massacred. Hence, in one tragic incident, the Mexican state is potentially responsible for Enforced Disappearance, Extra-Judicial Killings, and possibly, Torture.
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) calls on the Inspector General of the Police to investigate and punish those responsible in the abduction, intimidation and eventual release of Mayuri Inoka, wife of a disappeared last 1 November in Anuradhapura, a district in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka.
AFAD also asks the Sri Lankan public especially those who value life, truth and justice to help secure Mayuri from further intimidations and protect her and her twins from possible danger.
Mayuri was on her way to the city to buy milk for her 11-month old twins when according to her, well-built men boarded her three wheeler vehicle. A gun was pointed on her face, and then she was blindfolded with her hands tied behind her back. Later she was shoved into a van where she was continually threatened of possible disappearance if she will not stop her campaign to find her husband. She was eventually released an hour and a half later.
Loss comes in many ways. All Saints’ Day highlights the loss arising from the death of loved ones. Visiting cemeteries or columbaria in the company of other relatives of departed kin somehow eases the pain of loss.
But we who have lost our loved ones to enforced disappearance have no remains to bury or cremate – no graves or cinerary vaults to seal the certainty of our kin’s fate.
As we perpetually equivocate between hope and despair, closure becomes as elusive as justice. To calm our unsettledness, we draw support and strength from other families and friends of the disappeared.