Table of Contents
- Strengthening AFAD’s Unity…
- Years of Trials and Triumphs…
- NO political reform, NO hope for justice…
- Hunger Strike
- Indonesian Human Rights Movement…
- Crime and Punishment
- Anti-enforced Disappearance Bill
- A Life That is Never The Same Again
- Kashmiri families of missing person stage…
- Disappearances in Sri Lanka
Report on International Lobbying
- A Narrative of Contrast
- Where are They?
- Working Towards an African Network
- Reduced to Ashes: The Insurgency…
Mid Year Report
Strengthen AFAD’s Unity Amidst Diversity:
A Key to An Effective Human Rights Advocacy
by Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso
Upon the recommendation of the French Ambassador to Geneva who chairs the United Nations inter-sessional open-ended working group to elaborate a draft legally-binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced or involuntary disappearances, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), during its 59th session in April 2003, formulated a Resolution in favor of the recommendation.
The body meets at the beginning of September. While it is still a long way before the ratification of a new treaty, the recent development at the United Nations on the issue of involuntary disappearances is a quantum leap in the struggle against impunity. Expediting the process depends much on the lobbying efforts of organizations concerned with involuntary disappearances worldwide. For which reason, AFAD in cooperation with
FEDEFAM and RADIF participated in the activities related to the 59th session of the UNCHR.
Amidst these developments on the international level, families of the disappeared in Asia continue their uphill struggle to search for truth in the disappearance of their loved ones, to work for justice so that the perpetrators be punished accordingly and to demand for redress for those left behind. While many obstacles come along the way, there is still every reason to hope.
A decisive move of families of the disappeared in Jammu and Kashmir to end the daily disappearances in their midst was the hunger strike staged on April 17-24, 2003. This was supported by simultaneous pickets done by
KontraS/Ikohi in front of the Indian embassy in Jakarta and the Tiananmen Mothers Campaign in front of the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong. The AFAD Regional Office and its other member-organizations wrote messages of concern to the Indian authorities in their respective countries and to the Permanent Mission of India at the United Nations in Geneva and at the same time conducted an information dissemination drive. These solidarity actions of co-AFAD members were indispensable sources of inspiration for the striking families.
It is ironic that poor and hungry families of the disappeared continued being hungry by staging a hunger strike so that the Indian government, through its Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Syed would finally admit the 3,744 cases that occurred from 2000 up to the present, in contrast to his own earlier pronouncement stating that there are only 60 persons who disappeared and the rest had crossed the line of actual control. For AFAD, the concerted action was proof that in solidarity, there is strength.
So rapid were the turn-of-events that weeks after the Kashmir hunger strike dawned the commemoration of the International Week of the Disappeared. To begin the week, while
KontraS’/Ikohi’s members were holding a press conference, their office was attacked by 150 elements from the Youth of the Veterans causing injuries to persons and destruction of office equipment. It was the second attack against
KontraS since the first attack of March 13, 2003. This was perpetrated in the context of the conflict in Aceh, wherein
KontraS’ position was questioned. Indonesian human rights defenders conclude that it was an attack against the general human rights movement in the country.
A couple of weeks later, AFAD celebrated its 5th anniversary, which also coincided with the commemoration of the Tiananmen Massacre’s 14th anniversary. Activities on the regional level and in Hong Kong, where the Tiananmen Mothers Campaign is based, were conducted simultaneously which garnered overwhelming support. The whole truth has yet to be revealed, justice has not been meted out and redress has not been given. Despite this, there is every reason to celebrate for all these years of persevering effort and the solidarity received from many parts of the world.
The unity of AFAD members is in itself, a reason for rejoicing. “Strengthen AFAD’s Unity Amidst Diversity,” as the AFAD Second Congress theme states, is a great challenge for the Federation as it marches through a new stage of struggle. It is a key to an effective human rights advocacy
The future is uncertain. But with the strength of will to fight against impunity, AFAD will surely contribute even more to the attainment of our long-cherished dream for a better world.
VOICE September 2003