International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearance
“Impunity compounds the suffering and anguish. Under international human rights law, families and societies have a right to know the truth about what happened. I call on Member States to fulfill this responsibility.” -António Guterres
On December, 21, 2010, the UN General Assembly expressed deep concern about the increased number of enforced or involuntary disappearances in different parts of the world and by the growing number of reports concerning harassment, ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses of disappearances or relatives of persons who have disappeared, the Assembly decided to declare 30 August the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, to be observed beginning in 2011.
Enforced disappearance was defined by the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on 18 December 1992 as a body of principles for all States:
“persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government, or by organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law.”
It was once largely the product of military dictatorships, but enforced disappearance and the issue of prisoners of conscience has turned into a global and serious concern and can be perpetrated in complex situations of internal conflict, especially as a means of political repression of opponents. There are countless people missing today as a result of internal conflict, especially as a means of political repression of opponents.
Other than the victims themselves, their families and friends experience mental anguish. The victims are exposed to physical torture and suffer severe traumatic injuries, fear for their lives and also the lives of their families and acquaintances, and know that by disappearing from the society, they are removed from the protection of law and are at the mercy of their captors and hold only to a small beam of hope for ever going back to their homes.
The families of the disappeared persons suffer in different ways. Being completely unaware of their loved one, not knowing if they are alive and having no information about their health and well being is probably the hardest part of the situation. They are also in danger of being abducted themselves and are frequently threatened. The family’s frustration usually includes the material results of the disappearance. Since the person removed from the family is often the breadwinner of the family and the only family member able to work and earn the income who can support the other ones. With them being abducted, the biggest burden usually falls on the women to support the family and also shoulder the responsibility for the more vulnerable members. The emotional toll is even greater than expected, not knowing if the disappeared victim would survive the abduction. When women themselves are the victims of disappearance, they become particularly vulnerable to sexual and other forms of violence. Children may also be the ones who are forcefully removed from the family. The disappearance of a child is clearly a violation of a number of provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the right to a personal identity.
Countries and governments have undeniable obligations towards their citizens. They are responsible for the well being of the society and its security. The citizens expect protection of their rights, stability in economics, freedom of religion, and ease of mind. No citizen or immigrant should fear sudden changes in the law and disappearances that are caused by political agendas. A prime example of enforced disappearance is the situation going on for many years in China. More than a million Uyghurs have forcefully disappeared from their hometowns, some have been raped, some never heard from again, some are still in camps and all are forced to follow religious, cultural, and political path put forward by the Chinese governments.
Children are taken away from their parents and often siblings are separated. Uyghur Muslims are one of many victims of enforced disappearances.
Freemuslim condemns any kind of enforced disappearance and encourages the authorities of all the countries to take immediate measures to prevent the abduction of human beings and support the rights of the victims and their families. We specifically ask and urge the Chinese government to release all the prisoners. We also ask for the release of all prisoners of conscience all around the world. Forcing citizens to follow a path drawn by the government does not create allegiance, instead it creates insecurity and instability in the society.