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Top : Legal Law Issues : Mothers of the 'disappeared' speak out

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Mothers of the 'disappeared' speak out

May 11th is Mother's Day, a time to celebrate and show appreciation for our mothers and grandmothers. It is also an occasion to recognize the special bond that exists between a mother and her child.

Perhaps one of the strongest examples of this extraordinary bond can be seen through the pain experienced by those mothers who have had their children stolen from them. Tragically, this is a reality in many countries where people are "disappeared". The disappeared are people who have been taken into custody by the police or military and whose whereabouts and fate have been concealed.

"Disappearance" is a human rights violation inflicted not only upon the victims but also upon their families. Mothers of the disappeared fear their children have died under torture, or that they were arbitrarily killed by security forces. For a mother, losing a child who has been disappeared means never being able to say goodbye. Worst of all, they often face silence from those who may have information or the power to make change.

However, twenty-five years ago, a courageous group of women in Argentina refused to suffer in silence any longer. From 1976 to 1983, approximately 30,000 Argentineans were disappeared under the military government. By 1977, families of those imprisoned and disappeared began to meet secretly to make plans for peaceful resistance. One of these groups was the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Once a week, the Mothers met at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires carrying placards naming their disappeared children. During the years of military rule in Argentina, the Mothers became more numerous and campaigned actively in Argentina and abroad.

Like many other human rights activists, the Mothers have put their own lives at risk, as they have often been subjected to harassment, attacks, imprisonment and even disappearances themselves. The worldwide human rights organization Amnesty International has repeatedly appealed to the authorities to protect human rights defenders, and to thoroughly investigate complaints of intimidation and attacks against them.

Despite the obstacles, the Mothers' work for justice continues today. As well, over the years, a number of groups have emerged of mothers, grandmothers and families of the disappeared in countries like Turkey, Bosnia, Algeria, Mexico, Colombia and China.

These brave human rights activists are determined to speak out about disappearances and to keep the memories of their children alive. Through their persistence, they continue to show us that the bonds of love and family are stronger than those of fear and repression.

If you'd like to learn more about human rights defenders, please call 1-800-AMNESTY (266-3789), visit, email us at or write to Amnesty International, 312 Laurier Ave East, Suite 200, Ottawa, ON, K1N 1H9.

- News Canada

Submitted by: News Canada *

30-Apr-2003 Hits: 392 Rating: 0 Votes: 0 Rate It

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