A Call for Solidarity on the International Torture Survivors’ Day
26 June 2017
"... Most of them lived the rest of their lives in the detention centers, hooded or blindfolded, forbidden to talk to one another, hungry, living in filth. The center of their lives - dominating the memories of those who survived - was torture. They were tortured, almost without exception, methodically, sadistically, sexually, with electric shocks and near-drownings, [some burried to their necks and left in the sun and the rain for days. They were] constantly beaten, in the most humiliating possible way, not to discover information - very few had any information to give - but just to break them spiritually as well as physically, and to give pleasure to their torturers."[Ronald Dworkin, in the introduction to "Nunca Mas, Argentina "]
A two-day training session, mainly for the female relatives of Enforced Disappearance (ED) victims, was organised by Odhikar on the 19th and 20th of April, 2017 at the Caritas Development Institute Dhaka, Bangladesh. 17 relatives of the victims of ED participated in the training programme and amongst them 12 were women and five were men. As she was not able to keep her child somewhere else, one wife of a victim of ED brought her seven-year-old son to the programme as well. The training sessions were participatory, informative and also sensitive as some family members of victims were highly traumatised. The training sessions were conducted with the psychological conditions of the family members of the victims in mind.
Since time immemorial, people have been struggling for their rights and the rights of their family members of fellow citizens. In the modern era, those fighting for the rights of others are called human rights defenders. It has never been easy to struggle for human rights in the discourse of Member States of the UN. Human rights defenders have always been the priority of States to make efforts to protect these voices of dissent or the voices for human rights. Long after the evolution of International Humanitarian Law, the framework for the protection of human rights defenders found resonance in the discourse of Member States of the UN, When in 1984 the UN began the elaboration of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
4 June 2017 – Nineteen years ago, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) was founded in Manila, Philippines by the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND, Philippines), the Association of Parents and Family Members of the Disappeared (APDP, in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir) and the then Organization of Parents and Family Members of the Disappeared (OPFMD, Sri Lanka).
Today, AFAD has grown into a Federation of 14 member-organizations from 10 countries, namely Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste and with individual members in Laos and in Switzerland.