23 November 2011
STATEMENT ON FIND’S 26TH FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY
The establishment of FIND 26 years ago today, reminds us of the remarkable courage and strength of the nine founding families of the disappeared who braved the wrath of the Marcos dictatorship as they challenged the then moribund regime to surface their missing kin and bring those responsible for their disappearance to justice even as they demanded an end to such heinous offense.
This urgent call on the Marcos regime has been a sad refrain for the succeeding families of desaparecidos under the following C. Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo and B.S. Aquino III administrations. In view of the unabated commission of enforced disappearance and the persistence of impunity, FIND now additionally urges strongly the second Aquino administration to prioritize the enactment of a special law penalizing enforced disappearance as an autonomous crime and to sign and accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
FIND believes that these complementary domestic and international measures clearly set best practices that guarantee the right to not be disappeared, remedies and penalties in the event of violation, and reparation to victims. The Convention provides adequate standards against which actions of States vis-à-vis protection from enforced disappearance may be appropriately assessed.
Revisiting the birth of FIND brings back the sterling lives, principles and causes fought for by the early desaparecidos. These social and political activists were among the finest men and women of their generation. They courageously and steadfastly joined and led the people in the collective struggle for freedom, democracy, justice, and peace.
It is indeed deplorable that today FIND pays tribute to the desaparecidos and their families amidst continuing violations of civil liberties and human rights – the very bedrock of human dignity and democracy for which they fought notwithstanding the shackles of political repression.
It is likewise lamentable that FIND begins the 27th year of its struggle for the causes of the disappeared and their families, sharing the pain and anguish of the families, friends and colleagues of the 58 victims of the Maguindanao massacre, one of whom remains missing to this very day. It should be noted that the carnage was planned to be a massive enforced disappearance with the undeniable intent to conceal the fate and whereabouts of the victims by burying their remains in a clandestine mass grave.
The snail-paced prosecution of this two-year old atrocity is no different from government’s foot-dragging in investigating enforced disappearance cases.
To the desaparecidos and all victims of human rights violations, FIND reaffirms today its unwavering commitment to keep the flame of courage ablaze in the hearts of its members to carry on the struggle for respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights fully aware that only history, not a self-righteous President, can truly define the straight path to human dignity.