Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 30, 2015: International Day to remember victims of Enforced Disappearances

Remembering those who have gone missing

 Today marks the fourth observance of the International Day of Enforced Disappearances by the United Nations and presents an opportunity to highlight some cases from years gone by that are not as well known as the case of the 43 Mexican students from Ayotzinapa for example.

Cuba: Claudia von Weiss de Venegas
On November 20, 1999 Claudia von Weiss de Venegas, disappeared while on holiday in Cuba. She left the hotel on a bicycle with $500 and was never heard from again. Her husband, Miguel de Venegas, circulated fliers about his missing wife in Cuba and for his troubles was expelled from the country. Ten years later in a Hamburg news publication, Claudia's case resurfaced and her fate remains unknown but Miguel hopes one day to find out what had happened to his wife, but he has given up on finding her alive. 
Cuba: Omar Darío Pérez Hernández
Omar Darío Pérez Hernández is an independent journalist who went missing in Cuba more than ten years ago and who had received threats from state security. His family following his disappearance in December 2003 was intimidated into silence. Omar can be seen briefly in a video conducting an interview with students expelled from university for signing the Varela Project in 2002. 

Human rights defender and lawyer Razan Zaitouneh, head of the Violations Documentation Centre in Syria (VDC), winner of the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and the 2011 Anna Politkovskaya Award of RAW in WAR (Reach All Women In War), along with her colleagues Samira Khalil, Nazem Hamadi and Wa’el Hamada on December 9, 2013, were taken during a raid by armed men on the offices of the VDC in Duma, near Damascus. They remain missing.

In China there have been high profile disappearances, including a Catholic bishop,  but the ongoing campaign of disappearing independent lawyers for more than 40 days among them WangYu, LiHeping, SuiMuqing, and XieYang raises great concerns.

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