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International Women's Day: Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

International Women's Day
STATEMENT
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

March 8, 2008
 
Enforced or involuntary disappearance is the worst form of human rights violation - a scourge to humanity. It victimizes not only those who were forced to disappear from the face of the earth but also those who were left behind and are taking a long and agonizing search for their disappeared loved ones.
 
Women - mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters and daughters bear the brunt of the traumatizing effects of enforced disappearance. Since, majority of those who disappeared were men, the burden of searching for their missing loved ones and the responsibility of taking care of the family falls heavily on the women.
 
A sudden disappearance of a loved one is  devastating especially to women who are left wondering what have happened to their loved ones and who are continuously being deprived from the process of mourning and grief. They even suffer from the stigmatization of society as their disappeared loved ones were usually branded as criminals or political dissenters. They are also frequent targets of threat and intimidation from those who want to hide and  bury forever the truth behind the disappearance of their loved ones. 
 
The disappeared persons were men and were in many instances, the family breadwinners.  Women who, more often than not are unprepared to take the men's place, are left destitute and hopeless. In some countries, widowhood means the loss of status in the community. The undefined legal status of the wives of the disappeared persons puts into question their legal rights - property rights, guardianship of children, inheritance and the possibility of remarriage.
 
Despite the odds, women family members of the disappeared persons have shown remarkable courage and strength in contending with the challenges of their quest for truth, justice and redress.  In many countries, mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters and daughters of the disappeared built their own associations to exert pressure on their governments to give justice to the victims. There are also women who take it as their personal crusade to continue what their loved ones have left behind.  The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo of Argentina , who received world recognition for their courage and perseverance, are worth our salutation.
 
A paragon of virtues of women family members of the disappeared is Angkhana Neelaphaijit, wife of a human rights lawyer, Somchai Neelaphaijit who disappeared in Thailand in 2004. She and many women survivors of disappearances deserve our commendation.
 
Today, as the world commemorates the International Women's Day, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) salutes the amazing courage and commitment of women family members of the disappeared. They have metamorphosed from being pathetic victims of human rights violations to having become courageous catalysts of change in their fearless and persistent struggle to realize a world without  desaparecidos.
 
Signed and authenticated by:
 
MUGIYANTO, Chairperson
MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO, Secretary-General
 
The Commission for Dissapeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
Jl. Borobudur No. 14 Menteng
Jakarta Pusat 10320 Indonesia
phone : 62-21-3926983
fax : 62-21-3926821
email : kontras_98@kontras.org
website : www.kontras.org
mailinglist : infoontras@yahoogroups.co.uk

Posted on 2008-03-08



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