is the day when loved ones get to commemorate and pay respect to those who
vanished for various and always unknown reasons.
for the day by the United Nations was inspired by the activities of the Latin
American Federation of Associations for Relatives of Detained-Disappeared.
founded in 1981 has been working for the rights of those secretly imprisoned or
abducted. Family, friends and loved
ones get closure in the case of death, but with disappearances, the wound of
separation of the missing piece in the family jigsaw remains fresh even after years.
thousands of people are missing across the world due to war, conflict, natural
disasters, secret government operations and abductions.
Why is the day important?
the United Nations International Day of the Disappeared, governments, organisations
and local communities get to participate in activities that support the families
of the affected.
are a humanitarian situation that needs addressing. The subject is usually
complicated, challenging and rarely on the top agenda – but on 30th August,
attention gets drawn to the direness.
Malaysians were chilled by what they guessed to be religious vigilantism. These
were planned kidnappings that occurred more randomly than in isolated cases. It
was said that Malaysian Islamic Societies feared the threatening spread of
Christianity, so they targeted Christian leaders.
In the same
year, Egypt had 378 cases of government-related forced disappearances. These
are just examples of forced disappearances due to complicated and somewhat
worse and similar cases happening in Uganda, Syria, Pakistan, Venezuela and
many other places. Human Rights
Activists and Journalists Human rights
activists have gone missing.
dictatorships and democracies have enacted forced disappearance as a way to
silence critics on the opposition and the media. Journalists have been
imprisoned in foreign countries with no communication to their families or
have the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from
Enforced Disappearance. Countries bound
under this treaty have agreed to stop forced disappearances as government
operations, to make forced disappearances illegal and punishable and to halt
It is eight
years and counting since the enforcement of the convention. But reality and
signatures on paper don’t often rhyme.
What you can do?
30th August is a call to action not just to
remember the missing persons, but also to work actively to rectify the
situation. Organisations like Amnesty International, the Red Cross or the UNHCR
take that opportunity to highlight the steps they have made in securing justice
for the secretly imprisoned.
You can take
part in the fight against secret imprisonment by donating to these bodies or
volunteering. Activities might involve visiting specific groups of prisoners,
taking care of them and transmitting messages back and forth with time
on the International Day of the Disappeared go beyond the secretly detained to
include those in exile because of conflicts or those separated because of
You can be
part of groups that assist affected families to calm them psychologically and
take care of their humanitarian needs. Tracing the disappeared is also an
essential highlight of the day -30th August.
might be in detention camps, marooned in foreign countries, hospitalised or
dead. As a volunteer on the International Day of the Disappeared, you can
participate in finding out information about these cases to bring connection or
closure to affected families. Like with all other humanitarian situations, no
one is immune.
Today it is
them, and tomorrow it could be us. Topic; International Day of the Disappeared
30th August- Cherishing Memories and Seeking Answers.