Tag Archives: AFAD

[Statement] Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) and Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) on the International Week of the Disappeared, 2020

Joint statement Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) and Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) on the International Week of the Disappeared, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic cannot obliterate enforced disappearance. On the contrary, it may even exacerbate the perpetration of this global scourge.

As we kick off the International Week of the Disappeared (IWD) this year, we think of Joseph Jimeda, fondly called Dodong. On 07 May 2020, Dodong, a resident of Caloocan City left home for the Navotas City fish port to buy fish. Vending fish is his source of livelihood. His wife and children waited for him the whole day and through the night. But Dodong didn’t come home. For a week they were clueless of his whereabouts. Fear engulfed them as they anxiously searched for him. Finally, Dodong surfaced with a harrowing tale to tell. He was arrested as he could not produce a Navotas City-issued quarantine pass. They then detained him along with more than 500 other alleged violators of enhanced community quarantine directives.

Read full statement @afad-online.org

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[Event] #EndEnforcedDisappearance Poster-Making Competition -AFAD

#EndEnforcedDisappearance Poster-Making Competition

Background:
Enforced disappearance is one of the cruelest offenses that can be committed against a human person. For Desaparecidos (disappeared victims) and their families, it involves multiple violations of many of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Clearly, enforced disappearance wreaks a devastating impact on people. The concealment of the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared leaves their relatives in a perpetual state of anguish. The violence of this offense particularly when it is massively or systematically carried out affects not only the disappeared and their families but also communities and societies. In many cases, enforced disappearance is blatantly used to silence and sow fear among people.

As of March 30, 2020, the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) has recorded a total of 2,147 reported victims of enforced disappearance nationwide from the Marcos regime to the current Duterte administration.

In observance of the International Week of the Disappeared this month, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and FIND recognize the role of young people in spreading awareness on the prevalence and impact of enforced disappearance not only in the Philippines but also in Asia.

Competition mechanics

1. Theme: Posters must reflect the overall theme, #EndEnforcedDisappearance: Upholding the Rule of Law. Posters may convey one or more specific themes, guided by the questions below:

What can young people do to end enforced disappearance?
How can the government, schools, community, and other institutions help end enforced disappearance?
How can we use mass media and social media to end enforced disappearance?

2. Who can join: The competition is open to young people aged 17 to 26 years. Family members and relatives of AFAD’s employees are not allowed to enter the competition.

3. Entries: Posters submitted must be all-original, unpublished, and not previously submitted to other competitions. Posters must be hand-drawn using any medium (watercolor, oil pastel, acrylic, crayons, etc.) or mixed media except collage of printed materials. Poster size should be 15 inches x 20 inches or ¼ illustration board and design must be in landscape (horizontal) format.

4. Submission: You may email a high-resolution photograph or scanned soft copy of your artwork to AFAD via afad@surfshop.net.ph on or before May 25, 2020. Please attach your photographed artwork or scanned copy of your artwork to your email with the subject: Entry to #EndEnforcedDisappearance poster-making competition. Please include the following information in your email: Title of the poster, the material used (e.g. watercolor, oil pastel, etc.), full name, nickname, age, address, and landline and/or mobile numbers.

Please keep your original artwork. AFAD will collect all entries; some of which will be showcased in August, in commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared, and in other advocacy activities of AFAD.

5. Copyright. By participating in this poster-making competition, the contestant certifies that the submitted artwork is a single work of original material created solely by the participant and no other party has any right, title, claim, or interest in the poster. Names and logos of schools and organizations are not allowed to appear in the poster entries. Winning entries will be deemed the property of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances.
Participants may only submit one entry.
Winning entries will also be featured in AFAD’s 2021 calendar. Original artwork/hard copies will be displayed in exhibits mounted by AFAD.

6. Criteria. The criteria for judging will be as follows:
Relevance to the theme: 40%
Creativity and visual impact: 30%
Originality: 30%
7. Prizes:
1st Place: P12,000
2nd Place: P8,500
3rd Place: P4,500

8. Announcement of Winners. Winners will be notified via text, call or email by AFAD staff on May 28, 2020. The awarding of winners will take place in an event in celebration of the AFAD 22nd Anniversary on June 4, 2020, in Metro Manila. Posters shall be uploaded on the AFAD Facebook page on May 29, 2020.

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[Video] The Search for the Desaparecidos is a Resolute River – AFAD-FIND Holy Wednesday presentation

The Search for the Desaparecidos is a Resolute River

AFAD-FIND Holy Wednesday presentation
It has been a Lenten tradition of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) to commemorate Holy Wednesday with outdoor activities depicting the injustices committed against the disappeared and their families.

This year, the enhanced community quarantine and physical distancing aimed to contain the COVID-19 contagion prohibits these public events. The lockdown, however, can never lock up the pain inflicted by the State’s failure to bring the perpetrators of enforced disappearance to justice.

The families of the disappeared may not be able to meet physically, hug and kiss and draw support from each other, or share memories of their disappeared loved ones; but today they renew their unwavering commitment to fight for justice and end impunity. This, not for their missed kin alone but for all victims of human rights violations and abuses.

This Holy Wednesday, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) warmly joins FIND share a poem of steadfast struggle and fervent hope for truth, justice, and peace.

I.
Like clockwork:
Fear for the lost in each footstep, visits to police stations and military camps, prisons, and to offices of non-governmental organizations and others who may help find the disappeared.
Look everywhere. Ask anyone, anywhere.
The search, perhaps futile. Maybe, forever.
But the answers are out there somewhere.

II.
A raging sea it was, within body and soul of those left behind, upon news that the wolves had pounced and snatched their kin; oftentimes, the family’s breadwinner.
Then the years passed into decades; a century lapsed to the next.
Through court hearings, campaigns, commemorations. Covered in the news, or not.
Still missing. They are still missing.

III.
Now, the rage remains but has steeled into a resolute river of steady sadness.
A river of a still open and festering wound.
Still missing. They are still missing.

IV.
The wolves: some may have passed away, and perhaps accorded military honors in burial.
Whereas, their victims: where were they laid to rest after abduction and torture?
In land? Sea?
By the river? Down the river?
They remain missing and the faceless wolves
have yet to face justice.

V.
This is a river flowing through a continuing crime, a poem that has yet to find its rhyme.
The search continues.
The struggle continues.
Like clockwork.

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[Statement] Reliving the Legacies of the Unsung Heroes -AFAD

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” ― Shannon Alder

TODAY, November 2 in the Philippines, marks All Souls’ Day where families come together to visit the graves of their loved ones. But for many families of the disappeared, who are clueless about the fates and whereabouts of their loved ones, a visit to the cemetery is no option. They refuse to recognize the disappeared as dead.

Enforced or involuntary disappearances peaked during the martial law regime. The victims are usually persons with actual or alleged involvement in the struggle for social transformation or in upholding and defending the civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights of the people. They are political activists or critics of the regressive policies of the government.

Desaparecidos laid their lives for their country. They did not fear to risk their lives for the betterment of others. They have goals and dreams deeper than we can imagine – goals that may have also taken their lives, but their legacies will always be remembered and celebrated. They will never be forgotten for their struggle for the country’s right to national sovereignty and genuine independence, to unify all the exploited sectors and classes of society, to fight against impunity, violence, and repression, and to educate and liberate everyone from the bondage of poverty and oppression. These will be continued and will be fought for by their children and their grandchildren.

Today, the families and friends of the disappeared will gather at the Bantayog ng mga Desaparecido or the Flame of Courage Monument in Baclaran, Parañaque City round a shrine of a woman carrying a torch symbolizing the courage of those left behind and continuing the struggle for justice. The flame also represents the legacies and dreams that were left behind by the disappeared which shall be taken by new generations. Its light vanishes the dark for those who are weary and tired and gives new hope and strength to those who have always been, still are, and will continue to stand and fight for our rights.

The path to victory is long and arduous. But the search for truth and justice will continue despite challenges and impediments. AFAD shall continue to encourage the public to continue remembering and preserving the legacy of all Filipino heroes and martyrs who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the country’s freedom and independence.

https://www.facebook.com/afad.online/

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[From the web] 12th Year Anniversary of Jonas Burgos: AFP, Comply with the Supreme Court Order! -AFAD

Manila: The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) remembers Jonas Burgos who was forcibly disappeared on the 28th of April 2007 while he was having his lunch at the Hapag Kainan restaurant in Ever Gotesco Mall, Quezon City. The perpetrators are personnel of the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP).

Jonas was a farmer and activist who worked tirelessly for upholding the rights of the farmers. He was a dedicated father, husband and son. He was targeted for supporting the rights of the farmers. It has been 12 years since Jonas Burgos was disappeared. During those years, all legal and parallel remedies were availed of and the petition for the writs of habeas corpus and amparo were filed and were granted by the Supreme Court of the Philippines (SC). After 6 long years of waiting, the SC affirmed the March 27, 2013 resolution of the Court of Appeals, which ruled that military officers of the AFP took Jonas Joseph Burgos on April 28, 2007. The case has also established that Jonas is a victim of enforced disappearance and noted the serious gaps in the police investigations. Thus, the Court ordered the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to reinvestigate the case, taking it away from the police investigation agencies.

Although the case was won, Jonas has not yet returned and his family continues to suffer the pain and injustice. AFP has not complied as ordered and to date, no one has been cited in contempt. At this point, the Court has gone silent and justice has once again been denied from Jonas and his family. This case highlights the problem of impunity that the country is facing.

In this light, AFAD urges the Armed Forces of the Philippines, its guilty officers, and the suspects in the abduction, to comply with the Court’s order and to be accountable for the socio-economic and psychological damages that they have caused to the family of Jonas Burgos. It is a fact that those suspected officers involved have been promoted to higher ranks, given choice positions in the government and are now enjoying additional benefits from the government. Some have even been assigned in regions where cases of enforced disappearance proliferate. These government actions should not be tolerated.

In the light of the case of Jonas Burgos and many other unresolved cases of enforce disappearances, AFAD strongly calls for the full implementation of the Republic Act 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012. Moreover, it reiterates its call on the Philippine Government to accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and to recognize the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

For 12 agonizing years, Jonas’ family has been enduring the consequences of a disappeared loved one – a son, brother, father, protector, and breadwinner. Impunity continues in the Philippines because no one is held accountable for enforced disappearances. AFAD calls for justice to be served in due process. AFAD, together with the Burgos family, will continue to seek for truth and justice. Justice will be served and will prevail in the end!

Signed by:

KHURRAM PARVEZ
Chairperson

MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Secretary-General

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[Statement] AFAD expresses concern over the delisting of cases in UNWGEID

AFAD expresses concern over the delisting of cases in UNWGEID

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) expresses serious concerns over the proposal of the government of the Philippines to delist 625 cases from 1975 to 2012 of enforced or involuntary disappearances from the records of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID).

Even before the news broke out, AFAD, having meetings with the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the UN in Geneva, suspected that the purpose of the Philippine Mission in meeting the WGEID in Sarajevo was to “clarify” the existing 625 cases because the latter expressed that such cases were old cases that occurred during the Marcos period. The news from the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the suspicion.

Although it may appear that the Philippine government is taking a step towards engaging with the UNWGEID, it is an attempt to suppress the truth and conceal the fate of the disappeared. This decision by the Philippine Mission has come without credible investigations into the cases and thus it points to its dubious intentions. Before making the proposal to the WGEID, the Philippine Government could have coordinated with the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and NGOs that have direct contacts with the family members of the disappeared, who will be affected by the delisting.

Enforced disappearance is a continuing crime. Section 21 of RA 10353 provides that “An act constituting enforced or involuntary disappearance shall be considered a continuing offence as long as the perpetrators continue to conceal the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared person and such circumstances have not been determined with certainty.” The Article 8 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance likewise provides for the continuing character of the crime.

Delisting cases is tantamount to deleting evidence of the disappearance, thus is contrary to the right to truth enshrined in the Convention. Moreover, it is contrary to the very elements of transitional justice, which are truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.
The families of the disappeared have the right to know the truth about what happened to their loved ones. It is their right to be informed about every step of the investigation that is initiated in case of disappearance and the results of the investigation. For the families of the disappeared, who have fought for long for truth and justice, this proposal by the Philippine government is disappointing as it takes away hopes of justice.

The delisting of the cases would mean impunity of the perpetrators and will not ensure that this is not repeated in the future. It defeats the very purpose of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act, which the Philippine Government enacted in 2012.
AFAD urges the Philippine Government to not serve as a negative example to other Asian governments to likewise delist cases, but instead pose itself as a model to its co-UN members by considering first and foremost in all its actions the interest of victims of human rights violations.

Finally, AFAD urges the Philippine government to finally respond to the incessant official requests of the UNWGEID for official invitation to visit the country. Moreover, AFAD reiterates its call on the Philippine Government to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and to recognize the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

Signed by:

KHURRAM PARVEZ
Chairperson

MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Secretary-General

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[Press Release] Having no tombs to visit, the families of victims of enforced disappearance hold their traditional All Souls’ Day commemoration at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani

Photo by Richie Supan

Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
02 November 2018

Having no tombs to visit, the families of victims of enforced disappearance and other human rights defenders hold their traditional All Souls’ Day commemoration today at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani grounds in Quezon City.

A daupang-palad begins at 4:00 p.m., followed by a holy mass at 5:00 p.m., and a procession at 6:00 p.m.

Daupang-palad seeks to contextualize from a human rights lens the martyrdom and heroism of the disappeared in the current national situation.

“As we celebrate the lives of our beloved desaparecidos, who fought for the rights and welfare of the poor and marginalized, we become more acutely aware of the imperative of sustaining the struggle for this cause,” said Nilda L. Sevilla, FIND Co-chairperson, and sister of disappeared labor and human rights lawyer Hermon C. Lagman.

“Respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights, freedom of expression, education for all, national sovereignty, territorial integrity, good governance, social justice and peace – causes that the heroes and martyrs aspired for are yet to be realized today,” Sevilla added.

Other family members and human rights defenders concurred as they cite: unabated torture, drug war-related killings and disappearances; soaring prices of goods and services; uncontained corruption particularly in the Bureau of Customs; derogation of the country’s territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea; mockery of separation of powers among the executive, Congress and the Supreme Court; and shrinking democratic or civic space.

Along with other human rights defenders, Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, AFAD Secretary General, paid tribute to the disappeared and victims of extrajudicial killings. As she echoed Bishop Broderick Pabillo’s clarification that All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day should be a celebration of life, Bacalso said that “These occasions should not be surrounded by darkness associated with death, but by the light of the courage and inspiring lives of the disappeared and other freedom fighters.”

The procession is reminiscent of the religious rituals and assemblies staged by political activists during Marcos’ martial law regime that banned mass mobilizations, protest rallies and labor strikes.

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[From the web] AFAD Expresses Concern over the Election of India, Philippines and Bangladesh in the United Nations Human Rights Council

AFAD Expresses Concern over the Election of India, Philippines and Bangladesh in the United Nations Human Rights Council

The Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearances (AFAD) expresses serious concern over the election of some of the 18 new member states into the United Nations Human Rights Council. Among the elected states of the Asia Pacific region, AFAD has membership from India, Bangladesh and the Philippines. These States have shown consistent disregard for human rights of their people and have been oppressive and authoritarian in their functioning instead of being democratic.

Read full article @afad-online.org

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[Press Release] Families of the disappeared and human rights defenders gather to reflect on the passion of Jesus Christ -FIND/AFAD

Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
28 March 2018

Every year on Holy Wednesday, the families of the disappeared and human rights defenders gather to reflect on the passion of Jesus Christ even as they relate the suffering from injustice of their beloved desaparecidos to Jesus’ agony on Calvary Hill.

Today, they come together at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City to reflect on the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ and to hold a truth-telling session with a mother of a victim of enforced disappearance and a wife of a victim of extrajudicial killing which are both related to government’s war on drugs. A playback performance by DulamBuhay theater artists follows each reflection.

Reflecting on the seventh Last Word, Edita Burgos, mother of disappeared Jonas Burgos stated that, “Though we be victims (of oppression and injustice), we choose to be Christ’s presence on earth.”

“As we now ponder on the pains endured by the crucified Christ and the tortured desaparecidos, we become conscious of the palpable threat to our own life, liberty, and security in the struggle for the protection and promotion of human rights and basic freedoms,” said Aileen Bacalso, Secretary General of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD).

Celia Sevilla, Advocacy Officer of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) in reacting to the linking of human rights groups to drug syndicates by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Philippine National Police (PNP) as well as the earlier statement by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that these organizations could be “unwitting tools” of drug syndicates out to destabilize the government, underscored that the allegation is “patently preposterous.”

“Worse, they could embolden mindless vigilantes, who toe the ‘kill, kill, kill’ line of Duterte, to target human rights defenders,” she added.

Nilda Sevilla, Co-chairperson of FIND and sister of disappeared labor and human rights lawyer Hermon Lagman, pointed out that, “While these irresponsible and malicious pronouncements are relevant to the Lenten season as they remind us of the malevolent accusations against Jesus Christ that led to his crucifixion, they are nonetheless anathema to the positive values of love, faith, and truth that underlie Lent.”

NILDA L. SEVILLA
FIND Co-Chairperson
0922-8286154

MARY AILEEN DIEZ-BACALSO
AFAD Secretary-General
0917-7924058

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[Statement] On House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’ pronouncements against the Commission on Human Rights -AFAD

Statement on House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’ pronouncements against the Commission on Human Rights

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) is deeply concerned with the recent pronouncements made by Philippine House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez regarding the deprivation of budget, and subsequent abolition of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The CHR is a body which is constitutionally mandated to ensure the protection of the human rights of every Filipino as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and to handle the investigation of abuses and violations perpetrated by agents of the State. The attempt to cut down CHR’s budget, more so to propose its abolition would entail grave consequences to the longstanding battle towards achieving truth, justice, redress and reparation for the victims and their families.

In relation to Speaker Alvarez’ claim that the CHR remains mum on incidences of innocent civilians being victimized by criminals, it is important to note the distinction between human rights violations and criminal acts. Human rights violations are committed by agents of the State; otherwise, these would be classified as criminal acts which are penalized under domestic laws, and are under the jurisdiction of the police. The CHR’s responsibility is to ensure that there will be no abuse or negligence on the part of the government in protecting and upholding the rights of all the citizens, especially among the marginalized, oppressed and powerless.

AFAD strongly opposes these pronouncements, and we call on the Philippine Congress to reevaluate the budget allocation of the CHR next year, in accordance to the spiteful situation that the country is currently embedded into. The attempt to decrease the budget would exploit the absence of CHR’s fiscal autonomy, and would significantly affect this institution’s undertakings towards ending impunity.

Likewise, AFAD also opposes the current administration’s stale support in the upholding and protection of the human rights of every Filipino, and obvious effort to silence critique and dissent. Respect for human life and dignity are the core values of humanity, and the foundations on which the Philippines is built upon, and the current administration’s apathy is an attack to the very ideals that this nation holds dear.

Lastly, AFAD calls on the Filipino people to remain vigilant to abuses and incidents committed by the agents of the State; and to seek accountability from the government for all unaddressed cases of human rights violations. It is only through combined efforts and unified statements among the Filipino people and the international community where justice, respect for the law and accountability can be fully demanded from the government.

https://web.facebook.com/afad.online/photos/a.637366142942226.1073741825.141248195887359/1690280974317399/?type=3&theater

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[Statement] Joint statement on the International Week of the Disappeared – AFAD/FIND/iDEFEND

JOINT STATEMENT ON THE INTERNATIONAL WEEK OF THE DISAPPEARED

As this year’s International Week of the Disappeared begins, we call upon the Philippine Government to end enforced disappearances and bring to justice all perpetrators of this grave human rights violation.

Enforced Disappearance is a phenomenon that is inextricably intertwined with Extra-Judicial Killing and Torture. The recent spate of killings linked with this administration’s war on drugs may have put focus on the end result; the death of thousands of victims. However, reports of these killings have indicated that many victims, prior to being executed, were first abducted as well as tortured. The administration must be reminded that enforced disappearance and torture are against Philippine domestic laws (RA10353 and RA9745 respectively).

We commend the termination of the police officers behind the make-shift secret detention facility discovered in Manila Police Station 1, but we condemn the anti-poor, unscientific, and inhumane policies that have encouraged this widespread and systematic abuse of authority leading to grave human rights violations.

We also remind the administration to strongly consider the recommendations of several UN member states at the recently concluded UN Universal Periodic Review to ratify the Convention Against Enforced Disappearance. Special attention must be given to the fact that the Philippines has submitted 625 outstanding cases of enforced disappearance to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance.

Indeed, Enforced Disappearance is a global phenomenon that requires a global response. We stand in solidarity with all families of victims of enforced disappearance and extra-judicial killing, especially Latin American families who first commemorated the International Week of the Disappeared in 1981.

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), and the In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend) demand justice for all victims of enforced disappearance.

End impunity now! End Enforced Disappearance now!

AFAD
FIND
iDefend

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ANNOUNCEMENT: AFAD CALL FOR EXTERNAL EVALUATORS

ANNOUNCEMENT: AFAD CALL FOR EXTERNAL EVALUATORS

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), a human rights network of human rights organizations working directly on the issue of enforced disappearances in Asia, is in need of an External Evaluator for its two (2) regional projects. The qualifications for the said External Evaluator include the following:

·         At least 10 years of experience in project evaluation work
·         Must demonstrate knowledge of qualitative and quantitative evaluation methods
·         Must demonstrate knowledge and experience in the treatment of relevant cross-cutting issues
·         Speaks and understands English and preferably, other languages in the Asian region
·         Must demonstrate satisfactory interpersonal skills and experience in dealing with target groups and partners
·         Preferably, with knowledge of human rights and development work
·         Preferably, with experience in evaluation of regional projects

AFAD has allocated One Million One Hundred Sixty Thousand Pesos (PhP 1,160,000.00) as total budget for the external evaluation. This comprise of the external evaluator’s professional fee, and incremental expenses of the external evaluation, including local and international transportation costs, accommodation and meals of evaluator and of the accompanying staff in the preparatory, actual, and post-evaluation process.

Interested applicants should send a Letter of Intent and Curriculum Vitae. Please kindly address the letter to Ms. Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, Secretary-General of AFAD. Please kindly send your applications on or before 13 June 2017.

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[Statement] Remembering the Disappeared on All Souls’ Day: A Commemoration of Real Heroes and Martyrs -FIND/AFAD

photo-by-egay-cabalitanSTATEMENT

Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)

November 2, 2016

Remembering the Disappeared on All Souls’ Day:
A Commemoration of Real Heroes and Martyrs

FIND AFAD(NOTE: In the absence of tombs to visit, the families of victims of enforced disappearance get together to remember and honor their disappeared loved ones. This morning, they gathered at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Memorial Center in Quezon City. The celebration of life of the disappeared as real heroes and martyrs of freedom and democracy was led by FIND Honorary Chairperson Rep. Edcel C. Lagman whose younger brother Hermon Lagman, a labor and human rights lawyer during martial law, was forcibly disappeared on May 11, 1977 and remains missing to this day.)

The making of history has produced true as well as false heroes and martyrs. Under colonial or dictatorial regimes, real political activists, human rights defenders, and revolutionaries are depreciated, denigrated, and condemned as misguided change advocates, terrorist militants or rebels without a cause.

However, when power changes hands, especially when the real makers of history emerge victorious, these perceived deviants are recognized and honored as who they really are – heroes and martyrs.

The Philippine experience is no exception. The Spanish colonial government shot to death our national hero Jose Rizal for committing rebellion. The succeeding American colonizers convicted and hanged the patriot Macario Sakay as a bandit under the American-sponsored Brigandage Act. And during martial law, thousands of conveniently-labeled “enemies of the State” were unlawfully arrested, arbitrarily detained, forcibly disappeared, and/or extrajudicially killed. A number of them are now recognized as heroes and martyrs at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani’s Wall of Remembrance.

Whether or not the names of our disappeared kin are inscribed on the Wall, or on FIND’s memorial markers at the Bantayog ng mga Desaparecido in Baclaran, they are and will always be remembered and treasured. Their courage and steadfastness in fighting for human rights and dignity, empowerment and development, truth and justice amidst repression and disinformation inspire us to sustain the struggle for these people-centered causes.

After all, these causes remain mere aspirations for most Filipinos. Seeking their full realization is our way of making the spirit of our loved ones live on. This, we believe, is the best way we can do justice to their sacrifices and selfless love of country.

Pursuing the vision of the disappeared and other victims of State-sponsored violence is the key to breaking impunity and building enduring peace.

Remembering on All Souls’ Day the disappeared, who might have been heavily tortured to death and unceremoniously dumped in unmarked graves we know not where, forms part of our sustained celebration of the lives of real heroes and martyrs without tombs.

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[Statement] AFAD Statement on the Commemoration of the International Week of the Disappeared 2016

AFAD Statement on the Commemoration of the International Week of the Disappeared 2016
Photo by Egay
AFADMay 23-27, 2016 – Every year on this week, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, as an integral part of the global movement against enforced disappearances, commemorates 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.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2006. Unfortunately, during these ten years, enforced disappearances continued to be perpetrated around the world, with Asia being the region with the highest number of reported cases and, still, the region with the least number of ratifications.

The Philippines continues to be the only country in Asia to have a domestic law criminalizing the commission of enforced disappearances. However, the full and effective implementation of the law remains an open challenge.

Enforced disappearance “is a timeless tragedy for relatives and communities abandoned to their plight, without any answer. It is a longing ordeal, with hope against all hope.” (Prof. Emmanuel Decaux, President of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances)

Around the world, family members of victims of this heinous crime continue to suffer from the consequences of the disappearance of their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. They continue to live in a state of limbo, trapped between the hope to see them return safely and the pain deriving from the possibility of their death.  The desaparecidos, whose fate and whereabouts remain unknown, continue to be deprived of life and liberty and violated of their civil political as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

The sufferings and tireless struggle of families of the disappeared for truth and justice have transformed many of them into courageous human rights defenders, standing up for their right to know the truth about the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. Amidst pain, their courage and determination in the pursuit for justice helped them face the terrible consequences brought about by the crime of enforced disappearance.

In South Asia, enforced disappearances have spread during the past few years. To give just few examples: in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Kashmir the number of cases is constantly increasing, with human rights defenders being intimidated and even disappeared; in Sri Lanka last year the Working Group denounced the secret detention camps present in the country and the huge number of families in this small country continue to search for their disappeared loved ones and to cry for justice.

In South East Asia, particularly in Thailand, since the military coup of 2014, a practice of short term enforced disappearances has been carried out together with arbitrary arrests, incommunicado military detention and military trials for lese majeste.   In other Southeast Asian countries, such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Timor-Leste,  cases of the past remain unresolved.

AFAD and its member organizations will continue carry on the struggleagainst the almost complete impunity surrounding this crime, to keep raising awareness on the crime of enforced disappearance as well as campaigning for the signing and ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances across Asia.

On this occasion, AFAD’s continuing struggle to attain its goal of realizing a world without desaparecidoswill be a fitting tribute to the disappeared and their families.On this week, AFAD’smessage to all victims is to remind them that they are not alone in the struggle, that they have not been forgotten and that truth and justice are and will always remain AFAD priorities.
AFAD also reiterates its call for States to express genuine commitment to truth, justice and guarantees of non-recurrence by ratifying the Convention on Enforced Disappearances and taking concrete steps in putting a stop to the sufferings of the relatives of the disappeared and preventing such pain from ever being inflicted again in the future.

KHURRAM PARVEZ                         MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Chairperson                                     Secretary-General

 

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[Statement] End enforced disappearances, End social and economic injustice! -AFAD

End enforced disappearances,
End social and economic injustice!

10 December 2015 – On this 67th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) condemns all forms of State violence that are systematically committed against peoples all over the world. The global structure that perpetuates wealth and progress for the few comes at the price of the suffering of millions— of peoples displaced, dispossessed and made disposable. On this occasion, AFAD vows to work fully for the promotion and protection of human rights, with emphasis on the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearances.

AFAD

Tens of thousands of mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, sisters, brothers and friends have been snatched away from their loved ones and from their lives since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) reports of 42,889 active cases it has received from 84 states, a number that only foreshadows thousands of other cases that have not yet been reported. This global malady had urged the United Nations to adopt the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and to officially recognize August 30 as the International Day of the Disappeared.

Between the 70s to the early 90s in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa, enforced disappearances have been the governments’ weapon of choice to silence those who challenge injustices. The Philippines’ Marcos and Indonesia’s Suharto dictatorial regimes, for instance, committed enforced disappearances as a means to eliminate those who threaten their political power and challenge the economic injustices at the time, including farmers, labor union leaders, church people, indigenous peoples and student activists.

The fall of those dictatorships has not put an end to the practice of enforced disappearances. The continuous waging of imperialist wars that only seek to maintain the global hegemonic order has resulted in the calloused commission of enforced disappearances for the same purpose as they have always served: to sow fear amongst the people and stifle resistance and dissent. The most recent attacks in Syria, which have killed and displaced many, manifest the same war that is being justified as the “War on Terror” has resulted in more than 5,000 cases of enforced disappearances in Pakistan. To date, the number of enforced disappearances in the Middle East and Africa that are linked to the War on Terror is difficult to approximate, but a report released by the Human Rights Watch[1] has provided a list of names of victims of enforced disappearances who, according to evidence, are being detained in Guantánamo

Asia bears the brunt of the phenomenon of enforced disappearances. As per 2015 report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, out of the total number of 42,889 active cases, 25,706 came from Asia. 30 Asian countries out of 94 countries world-wide have submitted about 60% of the total number of active cases totally submitted from different parts of the globe. A region with the highest number of outstanding cases submitted to the UN, Asia is bereft of strong regional human rights mechanisms for protection and has the least number of ratifications to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The Philippines is the only Asian country that has a law criminalizing enforced disappearances, but its full implementation remains a challenge.

In this context, AFAD believes that to put an end to enforced disappearances, the causes of social, political and economic injustice must be eradicated. The UN WGEID underscored the link between enforced disappearances and social and economic rights, and the importance of addressing the latter alongside the struggle against enforced disappearances, in a report [2]in July 2015. According to the study, the indivisibility of enforced disappearance and socio-economic rights can be seen in the vulnerability and the marking of the poor and marginalized—and those who fight for the social and economic rights—as targets in enforced disappearances.

In order to realize a world without desaparecidos, enforced disappearances must be fought against as a crime not only against the individual who has been disappeared, and to their families who suffer from the unceasing grief and anguish worsened by their forced state of destitution and oblivion on the fate or whereabouts of their disappeared loved one—moreover, it must be struggled against as a crime against the community and the greater society. The States’ use of enforced disappearances requires that all people—from the families of the disappeared; to social justice activists and human rights defenders; to farmers, workers, women, LGBTQ; from Asia to Europe, to the Americas and Africa—unite in calling on putting an end to this grave and inhuman violation and to the social and economic conditions to which it is inextricably linked.

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) renews its call for the universal ratification and implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances that would make States accountable to helping families of the disappeared find truth and justice, as well as protect their people from being subjected to this heinous crime. Moreover, it calls on all states to recognize the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances and enact and implement domestic laws that criminalize enforced disappearance. AFAD likewise calls on States to fully honor their commitments to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

67 long years have passed since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris. Notwithstanding progress in human rights, the world has yet to see the full respect of the universality, indivisibility and inter-dependence of human rights. The right not to be subjected to enforced disappearance still remains an empty dream.

[1] HRW’s “Off the Record” was released in 2007. See the report at https://www.hrw.org/report/2007/06/07/record/us-responsibility-enforced-disappearances-war-terror

[2] The “Study on enforced or involuntary disappearances and economic, social and cultural rights” was an addendum to the WGEID’s report during the Human Rights Council’s 30th Session. See the full text of the study here: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G15/152/87/PDF/G1515287.pdf?OpenElement

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[Event] Call for Entries: Poster-Making Contest – “Beyond Legislation: Hope, Action, Justice” -AFAD

Poster-Making Contest – “Beyond Legislation: Hope, Action, Justice”

afad poster making contest

https://www.facebook.com/events/705346896233185/

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[Statement] Bongbong Marcos has no right to deny that inhumane and cruel transgressions were committed during his father’s regime -FIND/AFAD

Bongbong Marcos has no right to deny that inhumane and cruel transgressions were committed during his father’s regime

Statement of HR Defenders, families and advocates against enforced disappearance on All Souls’ day

Vote for this article for the 5th HR Pinduteros’ Choice Awards

With no tombs or columbaria to visit, the families of the disappeared who are members of FIND gather every year on All Souls’ Day at the Bantayog ng mga Desaparecido at the Baclaran Church grounds to pray, offer flowers, light candles, and share memories of the sterling lives and martyrdom of their missing loved ones.

FIND AFAD

Today, these poignant memories are mocked and dishonored by Bongbong Marcos who insists that the best administration was that of his father’s as he glosses over the existence of some 100,000 victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime. Among these, FIND has documented 882 victims of enforced disappearance, with the number of undocumented cases believed to be much higher.

Survivors of enforced disappearance under martial law and the families of the disappeared are living witnesses to the rampant human rights violations during the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship. They can tell Bongbong Marcos to his face their harrowing experiences of repression and injustice.

The martial law human rights violations victims Claims Board is currently validating supporting documents covering more than 70,000 victims.

Bongbong Marcos may not have directly perpetrated human rights violations, but he has no right to deny that these inhumane and cruel transgressions were committed during his father’s regime or to concede there were victims but at the same time dismiss them as unintended collateral damage.

Bongbong Marcos brazenly adds insult to injury by disregarding the fact that it was his father’s administration that launched the infamous floating rate in 1970, a de facto devaluation of the peso that persists to this day; the ballooning of the country’s foreign debt whose principal and interest payments have gobbled up the government’s meager resources for basic social services; the occurrence of the highest inflation rates in Philippine economic history in 1976 and in 1983; and the rising number of Filipinos living below the poverty threshold.

It’s a shame for Senator Marcos who now aspires to be Vice President to flaunt his perfidious ignorance of Philippine history and the country’s political economy.

Instead of trying hard to clear his father’s name, the noble thing for him to do is to apologize on his behalf, and help the victims and their families attain justice by supporting measures on accountability, truth recovery, reparations, and institutional reforms.

Since enforced disappearances are generally continuing offenses, President Aquino must now order the long overdue serious investigations into these unresolved cases toward bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Contact person:     Celia L. Sevilla, 0932-8165564/0917-9522123
FIND National and International Advocacy Program Coordinator

FIND
Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance

AFAD
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

PRESS STATEMENT ON ALL SOULS’ DAY
02 NOVEMBER 2015

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[Event] “Walang Paalam” showing -AFAD

Vote for this event for the 5th HR Pinduteros’ Choice Awards

Walang Paalam AFADEnforced Disappearance is a continuing human rights violation in the Philippines. Watch “Walang Paalam” and find out more about this phenomenon on February 26, 6pm, at the UP Film Center.

Admission is free.

www.facebook.com/afad.online2

AFAD

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[Appeal] An Open Letter to Pope Francis -Ron De Vera/AFAD

An Open Letter to Pope Francis

Vote for this article for the 5th HR Pinduteros’ choice awards…

Dear Pope Francis,

¡Bienvenido a las Filipinas! Welcome to the Philippines! By now, I’m sure you’re already flooded with messages poured upon you by my fellow Filipinos. Thus, my voice will be just another amongst the crowd.

AFAD

My voice comes from a place of complex stories, identities, ideologies, and perspectives. I am an agnostic theist. I am gay. I am highly critical of how your church treats LGBT people and women. I am also highly critical of the Philippine government and of government as a general concept, whether applied to a state or to a religious group.

This is nothing random. I am all of these mostly because of what I have gone through. Just like Jesus, I grew up without a biological father. The difference is, Jesus was raised by Joseph and Mary, while I was single-handedly raised by my mother. The circumstances I was forced into cemented my views about my country’s government. You see, my father was a human rights activist. Just like Jesus, my father was very poor. He had no interest in self-enrichment. All he aspired for was to liberate other people from poverty. But he was taken away from me by the government without justifiable reason. As if to add insult to injury, he was abducted on fathers’ day.

The enforced disappearance of my father effectively turned my family into a “non-traditional family.” And this, given the conservative culture in the Philippines, is not an easy situation for a very young child. My circumstances were further complicated as I grew up trying to come to terms with my sexuality. In many ways, I am farthest from what may be traditionally considered a “good Christian.” There is, therefore, very little incentive for me to communicate with someone like you.

But today, I am writing you simply as a son who grew up without a father, a son of a desaparecido. I am writing you because I acknowledge the influence you hold. I am writing you because I know the phenomenon of enforced disappearance is something your country also struggled with. Finally, I am writing you because I believe you will listen.

My request is simple; please do everything in your power to convince our president to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons Against Enforced Disappearance (ICPAPED). It is an international treaty which is the fruit of the struggle of organizations like the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, and similar formations in various countries. It is an international agreement championed by the government of your country.

You have claimed time and again that you are pro-poor. My request, therefore, is aligned with your principles. How? In the Philippines, an overwhelming majority of victims of enforced disappearance come from basic sectors of society. Not only are poor people the most vulnerable to enforced disappearance, poor people are also driven deeper into poverty when a member of their family is forcefully ‘disappeared’ or abducted. Therefore, by helping us take steps towards ratifying the Convention, you are also helping the poor.

If you accommodate this request, I will not suddenly become heterosexual nor will I suddenly convert to Christianity. Besides, I know that your goodwill does not come with corresponding conditions. Yes, there will still be fundamental differences between our principles. I will continue to be critical of the government and the church hierarchy. I will continue to believe the love I celebrate with another man is not sinful. I will continue to be the many things I have always been.

However, I will forever be respectful of you as a fellow human being. I will forever admire your progressive leadership as head of the Roman Catholic Church. And most importantly, I will forever be proud of the fact that you and I have shared a moment in fighting for human rights.

Yours,

Ron de Vera
Country Coordinator for the Philippines
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

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[Campaign] Justice for the 43 Mexican Students! -AFAD

Justice for the 43 Mexican Students

We request fellow advocates to use this photo as (facebook) profile pic to show solidarity with our allies in Mexico. AFAD reiterates its call for justice with the following statement originally released on November 10, a month before the International Human Rights Day.

Justice for the 43 students!!!

AFAD

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http://www.afad-online.org/…/215-justice-for-the-43-mexican…

“Justice for the 43 Mexican Students! (Justicia para los 43 estudiantes mexicanos!)”

On September 26, a group of students travelling to Mexico City was attacked by police forces in the southern state of Guerrero. The incident left 6 dead and 43 missing. More than 40 days after the disappearance of the students, suspected gang members confessed to killing the missing students. Members of the said gang admitted to burning the bodies for 15 hours and throwing the remains in a nearby river.

This tragedy puts yet another punctuation mark on Mexico’s long history of human rights violations. It can only by presumed what kind of torture these students were exposed to after they were abducted and before they were handed over to the Guerreros Unidos cartel to be massacred. Hence, in one tragic incident, the Mexican state is potentially responsible for Enforced Disappearance, Extra-Judicial Killings, and possibly, Torture.

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) condemns this human rights atrocity!

AFAD reminds the Mexican government that it has signed and ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPAPED). Thus, it is under obligation to “take the necessary measures to ensure that enforced disappearance constitutes an offence under its criminal law” (ICPAPED Art. 4). AFAD calls on the Mexican government to bring the perpetrators to justice by serving the strongest possible conviction.

Furthermore, the Mexican government must affirm “the right of any victim to know the truth about the circumstances of an enforced disappearance and the fate of the disappeared person, and the right to freedom to seek, receive and impart information to this end” (ICPAPED Preamble). AFAD calls on the Mexican government to bring peace to the families of the victims by ensuring that DNA confirmatory tests are expedited within the soonest possible time and that further steps to ferret out the truth and provide justice be done without delay.

With exactly a month before international human rights day, may this be a reminder that the struggle to end the culture of impunity across the globe is far from over. Now that in Mexico, the expression “Ya me cansé del miedo” (Enough, I am tired of being afraid) has been adopted, we, AFAD members, declare that we are also tired of human rights violations. But no matter how tiresome the struggle, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Mexico.

Justice to the 43 students! Justice to all victims of enforced disappearances!

Signed by:
MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Secretary-General

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