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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Statement on AFAD 3rd Congress

ASIAN FEDERATION AGAINST INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES - AFAD
Rm 316 Philippine Social Science Center (PSSC) Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City 1101 Philippines Rm 316 Philippine Social Science Center (PSSC) Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City 1101 Philippines
Phone/Fax: (632) 4546759, (632) 9274594Mobile: +62-811104495 (Chairperson) +63-917-7924058 (General Secretary)
Email:
afad@surfshop.net.ph Website: www.afad-online.org


PRESS STATEMENT
Third AFAD Congress, Kathmandu, Nepal
December 16-19, 2006


December 15-19, 2006 - We, delegates to the Third AFAD Congress from India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Germany and South Africa, are gathered together here in Kathmandu, Nepal, a country which tops the list of countries which submitted cases of enforced disappearances to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID).

In the process of listening to each other and trying to analyze the situation of our respective countries, we have come to the conclusion that the present human rights situation in our region vis-à-vis the situation of enforced disappearances continues to happen in huge proportions in a number of our countries.

All these happen in the context of poverty and social injustice in a region which is no less affected by the war against terrorism. In some of our countries, the collapse of the peace talks between some of our governments and the armed insurgents resulted in the increase in the number of cases of involuntary disappearances. Families of the disappeared bear the brunt of this heinous crime.

In the course of our human rights work, we have lost our former Chairperson Munir, an Indonesian human rights activist killed by arsenic poisoning in a Garuda flight from Singapore to Amsterdam on September 7, 2004. Another human rights activist, Aasia Jeelani was killed by a landmine blast during an election monitoring duty in the north of Kashmir on April 20, 2004.

With the recent developments of the United Nations, most of our governments have been elected as members of the United Nations Human Rights Council who, during its historic first session in June 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland, joined the unanimous adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. They further joined the consensus when the Third Committee of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Convention in June 2006.

Ironically, however, in the Asian region, cases continue unabated and perpetrators enjoy complete impunity. In a continent with the highest number of enforced disappearances world-wide, Asian governments are faced with the challenge of ratifying the Convention on the Protection of All Persons From Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the consequent codification of the offense in the national legislation. This will ensure both prevention as well as resolution of past crimes, considering the continuing nature of the offense.

As we hold this Third Congress, with the theme: “Coming Together – Forging a Global Respect for the Right Not to Be Disappeared“ we look back to the past and further develop our organizational capacity to continue our struggle for truth, justice, redress and the recuperation of the historical memory of those who were made to disappear. Simultaneous with our capacity-building efforts, we perform our prophetic role of condemning the on-going phenomenon of enforced disappearances in a region bereft of human rights mechanisms for protection and prevention.

To indefatigably and unceasingly realize a world without disappearances, we the delegates and participants to the Third AFAD Congress, have reflected on the situation of each of our countries and prophetically call on our governments to exercise political will in resolving cases of disappearances that happened in the past and put to a stop this continuing scourge.

In the course of our three-day discussion and deliberation towards a more effective and unified action in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Latin America, Africa and Europe, we have reflected on each country situation and have resolved to echo our corresponding calls to our governments to stop the practice impunity.

Aware of the continuing situation of militarization in the disputed-state of Jammu and Kashmir and the increase in the number of cases of enforced disappearances, we demand from the Indian government for the stop to the disappearances, 10,000 cases of which were perpetrated by 700,000 members of the Indian army since 1989. The Armed Forces Special Powers act which grants impunity to the army has to be immediately repealed. Moreover, since the government of India has callously refused to appoint a commission to probe into these disappearances, we demand that international organizations be allowed to conduct a probe into the disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir. In view of the non-renewal of the passport of APDP Patron, Parvez Imroz, we strongly protest the harassment to the activists of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons and the holding of travel documents in view of India’s claim to be the world’s largest democracy.

In Indonesia, two years since the brutal murder of our Chairperson Munir, the case remains unresolved. Despite the pressure from the local and international community to impose a life time imprisonment of Garuda Airline Pilot Pollycarpus Budhiri Priyanto and to identify and prosecute the mastermind, his supposed 14-year imprisonment has been reduced to two years. A slap to the family of Munir and to the international community who struggle so hard for justice, the impunity granted to Pollycarpus has resulted in our collective outcry. Hence, we urge the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to fully support the police investigation and order the State Intelligence Body (BIN) to fully cooperate with the investigators. To note, the Fact Finding Team on Munir’s murder, which the president himself formed, had already found the involvement of the high officers of the State Intelligence Body (BIN). The president must publicly announce result of the work of the Fact Finding Team (TPF) as stipulated in the Presidential Decree forming the Team.

Moreover, the AFAD Congress demands from the Attorney General of Indonesia the conduct of an investigation on the disappearances that occured in 1997 and 1998 and ensure the prosecution of the perpetrators through the Human Rights Court as the Inquiry of the National Commission on Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM) has found it as a continuing offense and a crime against humanity. We therefore, reiterate our call on the government of Indonesia to invite the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) for an official visit.

In Nepal, while the AFAD Third Congress welcomes the recent peace agreement between the government of Nepal and the CPN Maoists as a ray of hope for victims of human rights violations, AFAD is deeply concerned with the lack of commitment of both parties in resolving the problem of impunity. Its political will to solve the problem of the recent past is a pre-requisite to a just and lasting peace.

Yet, with the still unparalleled highest record of cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances submitted to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID), we strongly remind the government of Nepal to implement the recommendations of the UNWGEID during its visit to the country in December 2004. The cry of Maina, mother of a victim of torture and extra-judicial execution for a fair and impartial investigation of the case and the apathy of the police to cooperate in exhuming the remains of the victims – this is a concrete example of the absence of the government’s political will to resolve the case. Thus, we recommend that both the seven-party alliances and the Maoists publicly announce their commitment to eradicate the culture of impunity, instruct all the relevant agency such as police, military and the prosecutors in doing fair and impartial investigation on the cases like that of Maina.

We likewise recommend for the establishment without delay of a high level investigating committee as promised in the peace agreement which is composed, among others, of family members of disappeared persons and the civil society organizations of Nepal. We also recommend that Nepal enact a national legislation criminalizing disappearances. As the country is in transition, we recommend for the establishment of a comprehensive transitional justice mechanism as a way forward in making peace sustainable.

In Pakistan, cases of enforced disappearances occur in the context of the war against terrorism. Families of the disappeared suffer both from the loss of their loved ones and the loss of their property brought about by the natural disasters that hit the country in the recent past. Thus, we call on the government of Pakistan to investigate these cases and the possible involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

In the Philippines, with the collapse of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines, daily occurrence of cases of extra-judicial execution and disappearances in the Philippines continue unabated. We therefore, press the Philippine Government to put to a stop cases of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances, leave no stone unturned and bring to justice the perpetrators and their masterminds and punish them to the full extent of the law. Especially at this time when the phenomenon of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances are the order of the day, we once again remind the Philippine government of our repeated call to enact the bill criminalizing enforced disappearances into a law and be true to its having joined the consensus in adopting the United Nations Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances during both the first session of the UN Human Rights Council in June and the Third Committee of the United Nations in New York..

Crossing national and regional boundaries, we express our grave concerns over the situation of our sisters and brothers of Latin America and Africa in their untiring struggle for a world without disappeared persons.

In Argentina, after thirty years, former repressors during military rule are finally brought to justice and that the first verdicts have been spoken in cases of crimes against Humanity, including enforced disappearances. We are however, extremely concerned with the fact that one of the key witnesses in the first trial, being a survivor of secret detention camps under military rule, mysteriously disappeared on 18 September, the day he was supposed to testify in court and that his whereabouts are not yet established. We are equally concerned with the reality that human rights lawyers in Argentina have been systematically threatened to impede their work. We therefore urge the Argentine government to call for a proper investigation into the whereabouts of the disappeared key witness as well as for the establishment of an effective witness protection program.

In El Salvador, the parliament recently denied families of the disappeared the right to declare 30 August as a national day of commemoration of the approximately 8,000 persons who were disappeared by the army during the country's bloody internal armed conflict (1980-92). There is an utter lack of commitment of the succeeding post-war Salvadorian governments to the victims of human rights violations and their unwillingness to deal with past abuses. Due to an amnesty regulation that grants total impunity to the perpetrators, no one has so far been brought to justice. Thus, we call on the Salvadorian government to restore the dignity of all victims of human rights violations and their families as well as to annul the amnesty legislation that has impeded any penal prosecution of those responsible for thousands of disappearances and other gross human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict.

We are as well shocked by the October assassination of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, murdered for her engaged commitment to report the truth about the massive human rights violations in the Republic of Chechnya, including thousands of cases of enforced disappearances, we call on the government of the Russian Federation to conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the murder of Ms. Anna Politkovskaya to bring those responsible to justice, and to take measures to stop the ongoing horrible practice of enforced disappearance in the Republic of Chechnya.

In South Africa, , we welcome the efforts of the South African government in executing recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in conducting investigation in cases of enforced disappearances. Yet many more cases have not yet been submitted to the Truth and Justice Commission. Thus, we urge for their investigation and the prosecution of the perpetrators. Moreover, we call on the South African government to legislate enforced disappearances as a crime against humanity.

Today, the 19th of December 2006, the United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to adopt the United Nations Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. It will be a historic moment for all families of the disappeared world-wide and all those who work hand in hand with the families of the disappeared in putting to a stop this heinous crime The Convention will, indeed, serve as a legally-binding instrument among our governments for the realization of a world without disappeared persons,



SIGNED BY THE DELEGATES Third AFAD Congress on December 19, 2006 in Kathmandu, Nepal


MUGIYANTO MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Chairperson Secretary-General



MANDIRA SHARMA PARVEZ IMROZ
Treasurer Council Member
APDP-Kashmir


SRI SUPARYATI FAROOQ NIAZI
Council Member Council Member
KontraS – Indonesia Truth and Justice Commission
Pakistan


SHANTHA PATHIRANA SINNAL BLEGUR
Council Member Congress Delegate
CPRLD – Sri Lanka IKOHI –Indonesia

NURHASANAH YONAS MASOKA
Congress Delegate Congress Delegate
IKOHI—Indonesia KontraS-Indonesia


KOPILA ADHIKARI MUNEER A. KHAN
Congress Delegate Congress Delegate
Advocacy Forum Truth and Justice Commission
Nepal Pakistan




JENNIFER PACURSA MIA AUREUS
Secretariat Member of AFAD Secretariat Member of AFAD
Philippines Philippines



CANDY MAY NABAUNAG SAM SAMARASINGHE
Secretariat Member of AFAD Congress Delegate
Philippines Philippines


MS. PREKSHYA OIHA CRISTINA KLISSENBAUER
Forum Asia FEDEFAM Support Group
Nepal` Germany

MS. ANNETTE FINGSCHEIDT ALBAN GIFT MAHOPO
FEDEFAM Support Group CSVR
Germany South Africa

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IKOHI was set up on September 17, 1998 by the parents and surfaced victims of disappearances. Since then, IKOHI was assisted by KONTRAS, until October 2002 when finally IKOHI carried out it first congress to complete its organizational structure. In the Congress, IKOHI decided its two priority of programs. They are (1) the empowerment of the social, economic, social and cultural potential of the members as well as mental and physical, and (2) the campaign for solving of the cases and preventing the cases from happening again. The solving of the cases means the reveal of the truth, the justice for the perpetrators, the reparation and rehabilitation of the victims and the guarantee that such gross violation of human right will never be repeated again in the future.

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