Every last week of May, organizations of the families of the disappeared and human rights advocates worldwide commemorate the International Week of the Disappeared (IWD) following the Latin American tradition which successfully brought to international attention the global phenomenon of enforced disappearance and the imperative for a global response.
Enforced disappearance is a continuing affront to human dignity, civil rights and liberties as well as violations of economic, social and cultural rights. It continues to inflict untold sufferings not only on victims but also on their families. It is committed when a person is deprived of liberty by the state or agents of the state, and information on the whereabouts of the missing is concealed or denied.
The most well-known cases of enforced disappearances in Indonesia are those involving pro-democracy activists who disappeared from 1997 - 1998. This was the height of the anti-dictatorship movement against General Suharto who ruled Indonesia for 32 years. Many individuals were abducted by the military because of their political activism towards achieving genuine democracy in their country. This movement soon led to the ouster of Suharto and the dawn of a new democratic Indonesia.
Here are the actual text of Republic Act 10353 entitled "An Act Defining and Penalizing Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance"
Also included is the Implementing Rules and Regulations and its Annex A: Inquiry into a reported disappeared person’s whereabouts.
May 17 to 27, 1980 in South Korea and May 18 to 20, 1992 in Thailand: two different events, one common cause - to fight for freedom and democracy against a government led by a military general. In those days in both countries, thousands of people protested against their respective governments which denied them their civil and political rights. The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) joins with the members of the May 18 Memorial Foundation and the Relatives Committee of the May 1992 Heroes in paying tribute to all those who died, survived and disappeared in both the Gwangju Democratization Movement and Black May 1992 protests in South Korea and Thailand. They fought for their rights and those of the future generation. They are an inspiration to all of us who continue to work for a truly democratic and genuinely pro-people government in our respective countries.