Filippines HRD wins Emilio Mignone award for work against enforced disappearances

December 23, 2013

(Mary Aileen Bacalso receiving the Award in Argentina from foreign Minister Hector Timerman)

Human rights defender Mary Aileen Bacalso from the Philippines received the Emilio F. Mignone International Human Rights Award in Argentina Tuesday last week for her advocacy work in her capacity as the secretary-general of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD). Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman presided over the ceremony, which was conducted at the Argentine Foreign Ministry. It was attended also by representatives from Argentine human rights organizations, and the family of human rights defender Emilio Mignone, after whom the award was named. [Mignone’s daughter Monica disappeared during the Argentine dictatorship]

Bacalso’s own husband was abducted by seven armed men in 1988.  He was released after being tortured and made to admit to the accusations, said Bacalso in a phone interview with InterAksyon.com. In 1998, she co-founded AFAD with two other organizations in India and Sri Lanka as a response to the problem of enforced disappearances in many parts of Asia. In Sri Lanka alone, there were 60,000 cases at the time, according to the AFAD website. From the beginning, they took pointers from and coordinated with human rights groups in Latin America which were formed in the 1980s to take action on enforced disappearances. AFAD now has 11 member-organizations from eight countries, with the main office based in the Philippines. They disseminate information, campaign for the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, research and document cases, and accompany families of victims of enforced disappearances.

Aside from bringing them recognition, Bacalso said she hoped the award would also give them credibility as they try to convince governments in Asia and in the rest of the world to stop enforced disappearances.

In her acceptance speech, she recalled the adversity faced by those who fought for the rights of the victims of enforced disappearances. “AFAD’s own former Chairperson from Indonesia, Munir, who worked tirelessly for the cause of the disappeared, was poisoned by a lethal dose of arsenic in a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Singapore.” “Our colleagues in Kashmir are persecuted in more ways than one, including non-issuance of passports to restrict their movement and block them from forging solidarity with sister organizations in other countries. “Our leaders in Bangladesh were recently arrested, their office raided and files and pieces of equipment stolen in a desperate attempt to silence them. “In Laos, almost a year ago, development worker Sombath Somphone was taken by the police in broad daylight as evidenced from the CCTV camera footage, yet despite the obvious proof, the Laos government denies knowledge of the victim’s whereabouts. His wife has gone from pillar to post and has knocked on doors of national and international bodies yet her husband is nowhere to be found.” “In the Asian region with a huge number of cases and where defenders face the danger of being disappeared themselves, this award, representing the support of the Argentinian government, is a strong protection to our work in our region,” Bacalso said.

for more information on the Mignone award go to the Digest of awards on: www.trueheroesfilms.org 

 

 

Filipina wins internationa™l rights award for advocacy against enforced disappearances – InterAksyon.com.

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