Forced Disappearances of people worldwide: a growing concern
Victims of enforced disappearance are people who have literally disappeared; from their loved ones and their community. They go missing when country officials (or someone acting with official consent) grabs them from the street or from their homes and then denies it, or refuses to say where they are. It is quite simply an abduction. These victims are often never released and their fate remains unknown. Victims are frequently tortured and many are killed, or live in constant fear. They know their families have no idea where they are and they are completely outside the protection of the law.
WHERE IS THIS HAPPENING?
Enforced disappearance is frequently used as a strategy to spread terror within society. The feeling of insecurity and fear it generates is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared, but also affects communities and society as a whole. Once largely used by military dictatorships, disappearances now happen in every region in the world. Human rights defenders, relatives of those already disappeared, journalists and lawyers seem to be particular targets.
THOSE LEFT BEHIND
Family of people who have disappeared experience mental anguish, not knowing whether their son, daughter, husband, wife, mother or father is still alive, where they are being held, or how they are being treated. Searching for the truth may put the whole family in great danger.
Despite the danger to themselves, some families of the victims have organized searches for the missing loved ones and voice demands for government action. They have formed support groups, investigated, and demonstrated in the streets. Families of the disappeared are often threatened, harassed and intimidated.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
These incredibly brave human rights defenders should not work alone; global attention and solidarity will increase the pressure on the governments and help ensure their safety. The families of the disappeared need and deserve our support. Your activism can make a difference.
REMEMBER: Each individual we advocate for is representative of hundreds more abducted at the same time or for other related reasons. After reading examples of disappearances, you may wonder why you should bother writing about them; they have sometimes been gone for so long, that they are presumed dead. Families need to know where their loved one is held, if they are alive, and hold perpetrators accountable; and lastly, this advocacy may help others in danger of abduction when governments realize that others are watching!
Pressure the U.S. Government to ratify the UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
Make sure survivors and victims’ families receive justice, truth and reparation. It is shameful that the United States is one of only a few countries worldwide that is not a party to the Convention.
Write a letter to the Congressional Human Rights Commission or your Rep, asking them to ratify and strengthen the International Convention. Use this letter, as a template (use intro and conclusions). If your Representative is on the HR Commission, include them as well. Or simply write the letter/send an email to your Representative or Senator about the issue.
Assist these California Amnesty International Local Groups in taking action for forcibly disappeared individuals (and their families) around the world.
You can find many actions below:
SRI LANKA: Prageeth Eknaligoda is a Sri Lankan journalist, cartoonist and political analyst who was “disappeared”.
GET BACKGROUND AND ACTIONS From Amnesty International Group 471 (San Diego County)
ERITREA: Petros Solomon, council member of Eritrean People’s Front for Democracy and Justice party and his wife Aster Johannes, when she returned to Eritrea to care for their children, both “disappeared”. They are held in undisclosed detention areas without any trial since 2001.
BACKGROUND AND ACTIONS Amnesty International Group 612 (East Bay)
Sign this petition / Letter to Secretary of State Blinken
CHINA: Gao Zhisheng, a Chinese human rights lawyer was taken from his home in 2017 and no one knows where he was taken. He was tortured during a previous detention and they fear he may be tortured again. Two months prior, he had just published (in Taiwan) a memoir of his time in detention.
BACKGROUND AND ACTIONS From Amnesty International Group 22 (Pasadena)
CHINA: Hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and members of other predominantly Muslim minorities have disappeared in China in recent years. Without prior notice, the disappeared are taken to “vocational and educational training centers. People taken are almost impossible to trace.
GET BACKGROUND AND ACTIONS From Amnesty International Group 283 (Sacramento).
(3) LEARN MORE
PAKISTAN: There are currently more than 700 cases of enforced disappearances in Pakistan being investigated by UN Working Groups. READ MO
NIGERIA: Many hundreds of people have been subjected to enforced disappearances in Nigeria. Nigerian security forces often cite the anti-terror law that allows them to hold people without charge or trial in unofficial places of detention. READ MORE
International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances is commemorated every year on August 30th, but we work for them everyday. Please click here or watch the short video below.