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MARY AILEEN DIEZ BACALSO
SECRETARY GENERAL, AFAD
INDIA (JAMMU AND KASHMIR)
STATISTICS ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE IN ASIA:
INDIA (JAMMU AND KASHMIR)
AFAD’S THEME SONG, DESAPARECIDOS
Reclaiming Stolen Lives
By Marta Ocampo de Vasquez
Buenos Aires, 25 de abril de 2008
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
Since the time we met one another in our struggle for the defense of
human rights in your continent…
Since Loyola Guzman informed the Latin American
Federation during your early stages, I heard her speak of colleagues
from the Philippines who were also searching for their detained and
disappeared family members, and gradually, I was becoming aware of
the terrible reality that also existed in Asia, in many of your
countries and also in Africa.
How sad is this reality!
When FEDEFAM was founded, we believed that
this terrible crime of enforced disappearance existed solely in
Latin America, above all, in dictatorial regimes. We terribly
suffered, we believed that our struggle especially among those
directly affected, would achieve peace in our countries. We
understood that we had to combat impunity which, from America, will
spread to the rest of the world and to attack the terrorism of the
State which has committed more atrocious crimes and to transform the
families into one voice raised denouncing this reality.
We understood that we had to unite with you and
all people — sisters and brothers — in order to share our
experiences and our achievements. Thus, from then on, we have been
together with you in your struggle and we have seen with great
satisfaction the emergence of AFAD, and how it has worked before
those international organizations, denouncing all the violations
that occur in Asia, following the journey which FEDEFAM has
gone through. It has been ten years since AFAD was born and it has
grown in this enormous task which we have to accomplish and always
Memory, Truth and Justice
We will never desist in our protest and never
have we resorted to violence or revenge. This is the spirit that
guides our federations.
We have been together before the United Nations
in searching for international laws that defend our human rights and
the full application of justice in each affected country, and the
creation of legal mechanisms that prevent, sanction and impede the
perpetration of this crime against humanity.
Because of the situation where, we, the families
lack protection, because of the enforced disappearance of our loved
ones , the conviction grew among us for the need to seek an
appropriate international instrument.
After years of vicissitudes, steps and
countersteps to achieve the Convention against Enforced
Disappearances, the Intersessional Working Group to Elaborate a
Draft Legally Binding Normative Instrument for the Protection of All
Persons from Enforced Disappearance started its work at the United
Nations in Geneva, presided by Ambassador Bernard Kessedjian, with
the assistance of representatives of the member-states before the
Commission on Human Rights and observer countries. This time it was
participated in by various NGOs with consultative status before the
United Nations, such as FEDEFAM and AFAD.
During these three years when the study sessions
were conducted and discussions of important reports and
contributions of all those who attended were held in order to
improve the project of the international Convention, there were
tense moments, but the representatives of the families demonstrated
their unity and we all agreed with the decisions. I thought this
influenced the final decision, which had been long awaited!
On Thursday, 22 September 2005, on the eve of the
final session, the Ambassador of France, Bernard Kessedjian,
announced solemnly the tacit approval of the Project: “International
Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance,” or sealing the completion of the task of this
Working Group accompanied with a loud applause and great joy among
all those present, especially the families.
This Convention will fill the gap that still
exists in the international protection of human rights.
On 27 June 2006, the Human Rights Council of the
United Nations in Geneva unanimously approved the Convention and on
the 20th of December, it was finally approved by the General
Assembly of the United Nations in New Yorkbefore the Economic and
Social Council. (ECOSOC).
On 6 February 2007, in Paris, at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in Paris, the Convention was recognized by 57
countries. Now, let us work and hope for the ratification by 20 more
countries in order that this Convention will become really
effective. The task of all the families now is to achieve the
ratification by these 20 states. Let us continue to work together in
this struggle — always for Memory, Truth and Justice.