Letter of Regional Coordination on the occasion of marking the International Day of the Disappeared

Article posted on August 29, 2011

The International Commission for Missing Persons is delighted to be able to share with you a text that has been written by the Regional Coordination of Family Associations of Missing Persons from the former Yugoslavia which was read at today’s marking of the International Day of the Disappeared in Brcko. The Regional Coordination comprises representatives of family associations of the missing from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia whose mission is to lobby governments and state institutions to resolve the missing persons issue and increase awareness of the issue at the domestic and international level.

Letter of Regional Coordination on the occasion of marking the International Day of the Disappeared

Brčko, Trg mladih, 29 August 2011

Dear families of missing persons, ladies and gentlemen,

We are gathered here today in order to mark the International Day of the Disappeared – the day of persons deprived of their fundamental right – RIGHT TO LIFE – only because they were of different names, opinions, skin colour or religion…
Their lives were taken and we, surviving members of their families, live lives of pain and anguish.
To make our agony and pain unbearable, those that ordered and those executed the crimes relocated and reburied the remains of our loved ones a number of times in an attempt to conceal evidence of their crimes. They took their right to life and their identities and we are left with uncertainty harsher than any truth.

For many people the war ended long ago or never happened. For us, families, nearly 16 years since the Dayton Peace Accord was signed and 12 years since the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 the war still rages on. Some of us have lived in agony for over 20 years, because you have exhausted us physically and mentally by hiding the truth about our loved ones and denying our right to give them a dignified burial and go through a real period of mourning.

Are we asking too much if we put aside all earthly wealth and request only the truth about the location of our loved ones’ remains – so they can be exhumed and their identity restored through DNA testing.
All of you addressing us here today - for professional and political reasons - will say that you empathise with us, surviving family members of missing persons. You will also say that you have done a lot by creating all sorts of laws and institutions to resolve missing persons issue.
Yes, gentlemen, we know all this, because we were part of these processes, insisting on their creation, hoping that you would understand how important implementation of these laws is and that you would hasten the process of resolving the fate of the missing. Unfortunately, all we heard were empty words.
We do not want to listen to your promises any longer; we want results in the process of resolving this issue.
Surviving family members of missing persons are aware that all this has been done for political reasons and that the resolution of the problem rests in the hands of politics and politicians.

Today we speak on behalf of all parents, children, wives, brothers and sisters of missing person who are hoping for a telephone call that would bring them news about their loved ones - news as painful as much as comforting and encouraging. We speak on behalf of children with distant or no memories of their parents, whose image they create from information provided by someone else; whose blissful moments of their graduation, wedding and childbirth are shrouded in melancholy because someone is missing – someone important – to share these moments with, and they do not even know where their parents’ grave is.

WE REQUEST:

1. From all Parliaments, Assemblies, Councils, all levels of governments and representatives of political parties of countries in the Region to stop manipulation and misuse of victims through all sorts of lists and false promises. Start facing the past and speaking the truth about killings in the past war.
2. No country from the Region should be accepted as a member of the European Union until fates of missing persons are resolved by the country responsible for their disappearance.
3. Regional Coordination requests that the EU Commission intensify pressure on governments of the Western Balkans countries to make a full good-faith effort to locate, exhume and identify missing persons.

Ladies and gentlemen politicians from all over the world, particularly from the Region, look back into the past, the history of the 20th century and you will see that hiding the truth about killings and crimes never created a better future; it was the source of new tragedies with horrific crimes and distress without a winner.

We insist that you start speaking the language of truth for the sake of a better future for all of us.

We call on all of you who, deep down in your souls, to think and feel different to your political leaders, to be brave enough and share information, tell the truth and help resolve the fate of missing persons.

We call all citizens to speak nothing but the truth, because only truth can bring us a better future.

Members of the Regional Coordination are ready to fight, using all democratic means, to hasten the process of resolving fate of missing persons from the former Yugoslavia and help surviving families realize their fundamental right – the right to know the truth about their loved ones.

Regional Coordination of Missing Persons’ Family Associations from the Former Yugoslavia
Brčko 29 August 2011″

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