Egypt: International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances
August 30 is the International Day of victims of Enforced Disappearances.
The Egyptian Association of Victims of Abduction and Enforced Disappearances (AVAED) requests that the Egyptian Government endorses United Nations Resolution 65/209: “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”.
Today, Friday August 30, the Egyptian Association released a document outlining two cases of disappearance.
The first case, is the disappearance of journalist Reda Helal, assistant editor of Al Ahram news paper, who disappeared August 11, 2003. Two years later, an Islamist Jihad group announced its responsibility for his kidnapping and killing him. Egypt’s Police did not provide details on any investigation with regard to this case.
The second case is Sarah Ishaq Abdel Malek who is known as “ the lost girl”. When disappeared, Sarah was a 14 years old second year student in middle school. She was born August 1,1998. She disappeared on September 30, 2012 as she was leaving school on her way home. Sarah’s family filed a report, with the authorities, accusing Mahmoud Abu Zeid Abdel Gawad, aka, Mahmoud Selim, of kidnapping Sarah. (Report number 904, dated September 30, 2012)
The official Facebook page of the Salafi organization confirmed some of its members are responsible for the disappearance of Sarah. The group filed reports accusing two of its members of their involvement in Sarah’s disappearance. The first accused person is, Khalid Elmasry, a member of the political bureau of the Salafi organization. The second accused is Doctor Khalid Said who is the press spokesman for the Salafi group. (Reports numbers 13287- 2012, and 10563-2013)
Documented cases of disappearance of girls since January 2011 exceed 500. They are all under 18 years old.
According to Ebram Louis, the activist and founder of the Egyptian association, since April 2010 (AVAED) managed to uncover circumstances of disappearance of a number of cases. Most of them are underage girls. The group managed to find and return a number of the girls to their families.
Louis urged the families of the kidnapped girls that they have a legal right to find out what happened to their daughters.
A French initiative in 1979 started the international awareness of enforced disappearance victims, which was later sponsored by USA President Bill Clinton in 1996, eventually leading to an international agreement endorsed by the United Nations on December 20, 2006. On February 6, 2007, when the agreement was made available, 57 countries signed it. To date, a total of 92 countries from different continents have signed the agreement including, France, Germany, Argentine, Uruguay, Mauritania, Tunisia and Iraq to name a few.
On 21 December 2010, by its resolution 65/209 the UN General Assembly expressed its deep concern, in particular, by the increase in enforced or involuntary disappearances in various regions of the world, including arrest, detention and abduction when these are part of or amount to enforced disappearances, and by the growing number of reports concerning harassment, ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses of disappearances or relatives of persons who have disappeared.
In 2011, the United Nations declared August 30 an International Day of the Enforced Disappearances Victims. The UN is urging all countries to sign the agreement in order to enforce it.
The Convention sets out the right of the families of victims to know the truth
Regarding the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the progress and results of the investigation and the fate of the disappeared person and sets forth state party obligations to take appropriate measures in this regard; especially considering that some regimes employ this crime against their opposition, whereas other regimes simply fail to protect their citizens, particularly those who belong to religious or ethnic minority groups.
Human Rights Activist and Founder of the Association for the Victims of Abductions & Enforced Disappearances (AVAED)
Click on the link below to download AVAED's document.