» 09/07/2013, 00.00
Asia’s sad record of "enforced disappearances" of religious leaders , activists and opponents
From the Panchen Lama to Laotian activists, thousands of people detained because considered a "threat" to institutions and governments. For activists, the reported cases are only the tip of the iceberg, but the reality is far worse. Governments deny there being any problem, and only four countries have ratified international treaties.
Bangkok ( AsiaNews / Agencies) -
There is a common thread that links the Panchen Lama in Tibet Gedhun Choekyi
Nyima , the president of the Muslim lawyers in Thailand and an activist for the
rights of farmers in Laos. They
are all victims of so-called "State detentions", taken and kept
hidden in unknown locations because they are "sensitive" political
and religious figures, or for their arguments in favor of human rights. As
time passes the chances of obtaining justice for the "prisoners of
state" and their families are becoming more sparse, in spite of an
abhorrent practice that has become increasingly widespread across the Asian
Bacalso , secretary general of the Asian Federation Against Disappearances (
Afad ) , an association that deals with cases of disappearances, confirms the
phenomenon : "Asia,
the largest region in terms of land mass and population, has registered the
highest number of recent cases of disappearances. " In
addition, official certified seizures were found to be far below the actual
data , especially in countries where there is a repressive regime in power or
In fact, according to activists there are tens of thousands of cases of
"enforced disappearances " in Asia, but only a small proportion are
documented, for fear of reprisals from the authorities. In
the 2012 report of the working group of the United Nations , among Asian
nations Sri Lanka
accounted for 5,676 "reviewed and outstanding" cases, the Philippines
621, Nepal 458, Timor Leste 428, India 353, Indonesia 162, Pakistan 99,
Thailand 71, China 30 and North Korea 20., according to the UN , which represent "the tip of the iceberg ."
In Tibet, the Panchen Lama was
only six years old when he was taken by the Chinese authorities in 1995 and
since then there has been no news of the second most important religious leader
of Tibetan Buddhism. However,
according to activist groups in the area, there are hundreds more monks and lay
activists in police custody in Beijing, which applies the same methods to
suppress internal dissent in the autonomous regions prone to ethnic clashes,
such as the Muslim Xinjiang . South-
East Asian nations such as Thailand, Indonesia , the Philippines and Laos are
also being targeted by activists and human rights groups. From
the enforced disappearances ordered by Jakarta during the dictatorship of
General Suharto in the 1990s, to the most recent case of the winner of the Asian
Nobel Prize, Laotian
Sombath Somphone , in the hands of authorities in Vientiane since last
For activists and groups who are fighting for the liberation of the
"disappeared " the biggest problem is the fact that the governments
of the continent deny the problem, stating that there are no cases of enforced
only four countries - Japan , Kazakhstan , Iraq and Cambodia - have ratified
the International Convention for the protection of all persons from "State
UN is calling for a transition from the impunity to that of responsibility for
governments, while families pray and hope that their relatives could make early
can come home soon.
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