International Day of the Disappeared, August 30th, is the day when people formally acknowledge victims of enforced disappearances in their countries. While the video above focuses on victims in the Philippines, a number of nations commemorate the hundreds of thousands of desaparecidos that have been not yet been surfaced due to various forms of state violence or political repression.
Today, Tuesday, supporters of the cause are asked to remove their Facebook user-photos to show solidarity with those who are victims of enforced disappearances all over the world. Join us.
I had the incredible honor of meeting the Caravana de Madres Centroamericanas in Mexico City last November. These women traveled for 3 days by land to arrive, and a majority of the mothers were from Honduras. Seeing them hold up the laminated photos of missing relatives, swallowed by the border, as we walked through the streets of DF is a memory burned into me. Being able to see them again, and ask them about their stories is the sole reason why I am improving my Spanish speaking skills.
In the Philippines, under the rampant human rights abuses of both ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and current President Ninoy Aquino Jr., thousands of everyday people have disappeared under Oplan Bantay Laya and Oplan Bayanihan. I can’t even begin to tell you all the harrowing accounts of violence and torture relayed by the people I met while I was in the Philippines this past summer. Practically everyone I came across had a story – a neighbor, a colleague, relative. I even met one man who was abducted twice, and given the odds, it was incredibly fortunate that he was surfaced both times.
In 2009, enforced disappearances hit home for me when Melissa Roxas was abducted and released only due to increasing international pressure. She is a Filipino-American and a writer, like me. Melissa and her supporters continue to seek justice as the Philippine government attempts to discredit her testimony. We will keep fighting until the military elements of the Philippine government, who were responsible for Melissa’s abduction, are held accountable.