Thursday, May 31, 2007

AFAD Statement for the International Week of the Disappeared

From May 26 to June 1, the International Week of the Disappeared, we remember all the desaparecidos whose lives have been erased yet whose memories even legacies continue to live on in our hearts. Our memory of them has served as sparks of fire that kindled the fire in our spirits to march to the streets calling their names and demanding that they be surfaced alive and be returned to their families alive! We stand together with all the pained families, our hopes undaunted by this long-drawn struggle against impunity. With them, we patiently await the day when missed fathers, brothers, sons, mother, sisters and daughters, would finally come home.

Disappearances cause adverse impacts in the lives of the families of the victims. Trauma for one thing is the hardest to overcome. Since 2004, AFAD has been conducting rehabilitation sessions for the families of the disappeared. In one of the sessions, a symbolic re-planting of a couple of plants was done. These plants were uprooted, thus, they must be brought back to the earth soon, or they would wither and die. It signified how involuntary disappearances have uprooted families from their normal lives and the routines they used to have. If their broken hopes and dreams are not "re-planted" soon, they too will lose the will to live and be lost in an endless tide of despair.

Thus, in AFAD's effort to bring truth and justice to these families, it hopes to re-plant the families lives, bring them closure and stability. On this International Week of the Disappeared, AFAD not only expresses but emphasizes its aim to help revive the strength and the will to live amongst all the families.

On June 1, the Federation has arranged a tree-planting activity to put into tangible symbols all these hopes for a renewed life, spirit, hopes and dreams. All member-organizations will plant and hold their symbolic tree for all the desaparecidos around the world. And soon, as these seedlings find their roots once more on the solid earth, the families too will find their roots again in society. And over time, as the seedlings grow, let us hope that so will the hopes and dreams of the families. And as the seedlings soon become steady and strong trees that can weather any storm, so will the lives of the families.

But of course, these seedlings cannot grow into strong trees without our care and nurturing. Hopes, dreams and lives cannot survive without love and support from relatives and friends. So on this special week; let us renew our commitment to care for our missed loved ones, our families and friends. Together, let us all grow strong and sturdy to weather any storm.

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances considers the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances as a major source of strength. On the occasion of the International Week of the Disappeared, we call on all governments, especially Asian governments to sign and ratify this important international treaty that ensures the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances. Its implementation in the national level would require the enactment of national laws criminalizing enforced disappearances which do not yet exist in any part of Asia.




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Irom Sharmila Video

Irom Sharmila is a young woman of Manipur who has been on a fast-to-death for nearly 7 years now. She has been demanding the removal of a brutal law from her land. Manipur is a north-east Indian state (bordering Myanmar), riven for decades by insurgency and armed separatist movements. The Government of India has attempted to control the situation militarily, granting drastic powers to the security forces. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act enforced in the region lets people be arrested, shot and even killed - on suspicion alone. But Sharmila is willing to stake everything -- even her life -- to restore justice and dignity to her people.