Day of the Disappeared
Tomorrow is the twenty-fifth International Day of the Disappeared.
Amnesty International has put together a two-minute campaign video highlighting the problem of enforced disappearances, emphasising the distress and grief disappearances cause.
I dedicate it to Northern Ireland's 'disappeared' and their families. In recent years some remains have been recovered, but the CAIN Web Service list the still disappeared as follows:
Kevin McKee: disappeared 2 October 1972
Seamus Wright: disappeared 2 October 1972
Jean McConville: disappeared December 1972
John McIlroy: disappeared 1974
Columba McVeigh (17): disappeared 31 October 1975
Brendan Megraw (24): disappeared 8 April 1978
Capt. Robert Nairac: disappeared 1977
Gerald Evans (24): disappeared 1979
Charles Armstrong (55): disappeared 16 August 1981
Danny McIlhone: disappeared 1981
Seamus Ruddy (33): disappeared 9 May 1985
Sean Murphy (25): disappeared 1986
In reality these people were likely abducted and killed by the IRA or INLA (responsibility has not been admitted in all cases). In 1999 the UK and Irish governments jointly established the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains. Immunity from prosecution was guaranteed to those giving information about the location of remains. However, only very limited success has followed.
In a joint Irish / UK Government statement in 2006 the two governments lowered expectations of further progress and the paramilitary organisations involved in the disappearances seem unable or unwilling to supply any additional, useful information.
The pain experienced by the families of those left behind, with not even a body to bury, remains tangible to this day. This was the comment just last month from Anne Morgan, sister of Seamus Ruddy, now missing for over 23 years, after yet another failed attempt by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains to locate her brother's body:
"The information which was given was from the same individual who had given information for the 2000 search."
"So he has literally led our family up the garden path concerning the recovery of Seamus's body.
"He has wasted forensic experts' time, their energy, money and he has wasted 23 years of our lives waiting for this moment."
As well as those still 'disappeared' from Northern Ireland, a further 41,000 are listed worldwide by the UN. Every day, somewhere in the world, a further two people 'disappear'.
You can take action now, through Amnesty USA's website, on behalf of three of those cases.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.