Our World’s Enforced Disappearances

Photo by Anna Visini — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Our friends from the Belarus Free Theatre have sent out a special notice: August 30, 2008 marked the 25th anniversary of the International Day of the Disappeared.

On this day the relatives of the disappeared and human rights defenders commemorate the disappeared and call on all governments to ratify the new convention against disappearances. In the Netherlands the organization Aim for Human Rights has supported the cause of the relatives of the disappeared since 1993, and is coordinating the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances. This global coalition of more than 30 organizations was established last year to campaign for this new convention.

On September 17, Aim for Human Rights, Belarus Free Theatre, and De Internationale Keuze van de Rotterdamse Schouwburg contribute to the global campaign with a special programme. At 8:30 pm Irina Krazovskaya will present a photo publication to a high government official calling on the Netherlands to support the campaign for the convention, followed by a unique performance of Discover Love, written by Nikolai Khalezin and Natalia Koliada, co-founders of Belarus Free Theatre.

Discover Love is based on the real-life story of Irina Krasovskaya and her husband Anatoly Krasovski. Irina’s story is interwoven with similar stories from Asia and South America, where loved ones have been kidnapped and murdered or made political prisoners. Ingrid Betancourt, whose story is referenced in this piece, was one such person. The news of her release reached Belarus after the underground opening night of Discover Love, much to the joy of the Free Theatre members.
Anatoly Krasovksi ‘disappeared’ along with his friend Victor Gonchar, a high-profile political opponent of Alexander Lukashenko on 16 September 1999. Their bodies have never been found, nor have the bodies of Yuriy Zakharenko, Ex-Minister of Internal Affairs and Dmitriy Zavadskiy, a cameraman who recorded the participation of the Belarusian soldiers in Chechnya. The Council of Europe, the US State Department and Amnesty International are among the international bodies to have called on the Belarusian authorities to investigate these disappearances.

They might capture you at any time. When you’re at work, sleeping, walking down the street, doing your grocery shopping. Day or night. They might wear military or civilian clothes while taking you away, not giving you a reason or a warrant. They do not hesitate to use violence as they force you to come along. The officials deny knowing anything. It is as if you ceased to exist.

An enforced disappearance of a person is a grave human rights violation that has hurt tens of thousands of persons and their families. It creates victims all over the globe still today.

On August 30th the ICAED members appealed to heads of states across the globe to sign, ratify and implement the Convention against Enforced Disappearances.

Will the courage of our leaders appear?

- Bill Reichblum

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