By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Friday, August 30, is the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Today the world remembers those who have disappeared, both recently and long ago. They want answers.
The people of Ireland want answers regarding the 20th century disappearance of children of unwed mothers.
Argentinians still have yet to be satisfied regarding the estimated 30,000 people who disappeared between 1976 and 1983.
12,000 people are still missing two decades after the end of armed conflict in former Yugoslavia. A search for 6,000 persons missing in Kosovo since 1999 has led to the discovery of mass graves where most of them were found. More than 1,600 others remain missing.
The world still awaits news regarding the disappearance of 4 human rights defenders in Syria known as the Douma 4.
Sri Lankans want information regarding the more than 60,000 persons who have disappeared there.
A family in Bangladesh seeks their husband and father who was abducted two years ago while defending his father who was executed shortly after his disappearance. He is one of thousands in that country who have disappeared.
A woman seeks her journalist husband in Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately, this list could go on and on.
Why enforced disappearance?
According to the UN, enforced disappearance is used as a method to spread terror, and is now an international problem. It is a tactic commonly used to harass human rights workers, and the relatives, witnesses and legal counsel of those who have disappeared. Sadly, this crime generally goes unpunished.
Because of the gravity of the problem, the UN adopted a resolution in 2010 in which it expressed concern regarding the growing phenomenon of disappearances throughout the world and instituted August 30 as the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.