Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guatemala observes National Day Against Forced Disappearance

Graham Hunt
On June 21, 2011, in different activities carried out in Guatemala City, family members of victims,  activists and others gathered in honor of the more than 45,000 forcibly disappeared in Guatemala's 36-year civil war, as well as to remember the countless others disappeared in conflicts around the world.   The date marks the 31st anniversary of the collective forced disappearance of 27 unionists from the National Workers Union (Central Nacional de Trabajadores).

Graham Hunt

In a commemorative activity in the plaza billed "45,000 reasons to continue in the struggle," participants symbolically released white balloons with the words "If you see this, I want you to know that we are still waiting for you."

Theresa Polk
On the morning of June 21, the Working Group against Forced Disappearance in Guatemala held a press conference in front of the national Congress, marking the National Day against Forced Disappearance by asking for Initiative 3590 to be passed into law. The Initiative proposes to establish a Search Commission for people who were disappeared during the armed internal conflict. Originally presented to Congress in November of 2005, the proposed law has the support of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, the United Nations Working Group against Forced Disappearance, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.  The working group lamented that, in spite of having met more than 150 times with legislators in both the current and previous legislature to explain to them the importance of the proposed law, to date, the Congress has failed to assume the commitment of seeing to its ratification.

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