4 June 2016 – The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) commemorates its 18th anniversary. Against the backdrop of enforced disappearances in a region wallowing in dire poverty and bereft of regional human rights mechanisms for protection, the AFAD was conceived and born in Manila, Philippines. Initiated by the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND, Philippines), the Association of Parents and Family Members of the Disappeared (APDP, in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir) and the then Organization of Parents and Family Members of the Disappeared (OPFMD, Sri Lanka), AFAD has grown and is now a Federation of 14 member-organizations from 10 countries, namely Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste and with an individual member in Laos and two in Switzerland.
May 23-27, 2016 – Every year on this week the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances together with the global movement against enforced disappearances commemorate the International Week of the Disappeared. First commemorated by the Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared-Detainees (FEDEFAM) in the early 80s, the International Week of the Disappeared has been adopted by AFAD and has served as a venue to campaign against this abominable practice of enforced disappearance which has spread to at least, 88 countries, 34 of which are Asian countries.
The struggle against the evilest of acts begins with its proper naming.
Asian peoples throughout history have been under attack by the very institution that is sworn to protect them: the government. Their history would show that enforced disappearances are not a result of isolated misconducts of State actors—but are practiced in a manner that is systematic and are committed with impunity. Enforced disappearances continue to be among the many vile acts that are designed to terrorize them into silence and submission in the face of a flawed justice system.
The 2015 report of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances states that enforced disappearances are committed in 88 countries, wherein 43,563 cases are outstanding. Perpetrated by agents of States who are sworn to protect human rights, enforced disappearance has reached a global magnitude causing untold devastation on the lives of the disappeared, their families and society. “Everyday is filled with emptiness, sadness and grief,” laments a Belarusian wife of a disappeared and echoed by many others.