TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Empowering the Source of our Strength
- Human Rights Now...
- Kashmir: And Disappearances Continue
- Nepal: Supreme Court Judgment...
- A Week to Remember
- A Memorial Service to the Filipino Nation...
- Healing is Liberating
- “¡Presente!”- A Tribute Concert ...
- Memory, Suffering and Art Counseling
- A Morning or a Dark Night for Human Rights
- Bitter Truth...
- Sharpening our Healing Capacities ...
- The Anti-Disappearance Treaty
LETTER OF SYMPATHY
- For Mothers of the Vanished
Empowering the Source of our Strength...
December 10, 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Adopted 60 years ago, the Declaration is the fruit of a noble effort to establish a frame of human rights ethics common for all. For many countries, its essence has yet to be realized.
The protection and promotion of civil and political rights and the fulfillment of economic, social and cultural rights are a challenge. Some countries have undergone a transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Some have made inroads into building democracy by dealing with their dark past through the process of transitional justice. Still, others are unable to deal with the past mainly because of the political obstruction by previous authoritarian structures that remain influential. In many Asian countries where impunity is the order of the day, the latter phenomenon prevails.
Massive human rights abuses in the past are not properly addressed, resulting in the continuing violation of the rights of millions of victims, their relatives and the greater society. Furthermore, new cases of human rights violations continue to occur in many countries that are seemingly in the process leading to democratic changes. These include among others, Sri Lanka, Kashmir–India, Nepal, Thailand, Tibet-China, Timor Leste, Philippines and many African and Middle Eastern countries.
A paradox has occurred in the exercise of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure of the UN Human Rights Council. Indonesia and the Philippines for example, were praised for their human rights performance. How soon have members of the UN Human Rights Council forgotten the reports of their own representatives and rapporteurs who visited both countries? Hina Jilani and Manfred Nowak visited Indonesia while Philip Alston visited the Philippines. Their visits confirm the gross human rights records of both countries, particularly on issues of human rights defenders, torture, extrajudicial killings and disappearances.
Directly affected by this grim reality of human rights violations are the victims and their relatives. They, however, are the ones who might make a difference. It is in this context that AFAD, whose very constituents are the families of the disappeared, has been implementing a psycho-social rehabilitation program to improve the capacity of victims of human rights violations.
Only with the genuine, active and broad participation of victims, complemented with the support of civil society can the work for truth, justice and reparation be realized. Doing so would necessitate the victims’ empowerment. Marginalization, discrimination, stigmatization and impoverishment of victims and their relatives need to be addressed.
In AFAD’s noble intention to ensure the immediate entry into force of the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the victims themselves are in the best position to be at the forefront in lobbying for ratification and implementation by as many Asian governments as possible.
As AFAD turns ten years old on June 4, 2008 on the same year that the world will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let us renew our vow to empower the very source of AFAD’s strength – the families of the disappeared. In our quest for truth, justice, redress and the reconstruction of the historical memory of the disappeared, we are reminded by the old adage, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
VOICE May 2008