Bound by tragedy, 2 women comforted by UN chief’s remark vs enforced disappearance

InterAksyon30 August 2015

Shui Meng & Edita Burgos
Edita Burgos and Shui Meng, wife of missing Ramon Magsaysay laureate and Laotian activist Sombath Somphone, find kinship in tragedy. They draw solace from UN SecGen Ban Ki-Moon’s strong condemnation of enforced disappearance, calling it like rain after a long drought.

MANILA – A Filipino mother and a Laotian wife, who have found solace in each other’s company since an encounter in an international forum on desaparecidos, are these days drawing comfort from the United Nations chief’s statement on the International Day of the Disappeared.

For Edita T. Burgos, widow of the world press freedom icon Jose G. Burgos Jr. and mother of missing farmer-activist Jonas, the past eight years since her son was seized while eating lunch at a mall – by men believed to be military agents – have been very difficult.

Shui Meng, wife of Ramon Magsaysay laureate Sombath Somphone, is in town to show her solidarity with other victims of enforced disappearances. She is a guest of the Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearances (AFAD), where she and Mrs. Burgos met a few months ago.

Sombath is said to have been abducted by Lao government agents, as seen in a video posted on youtube. He remains missing and Shui Meng is pleading with his captors to release him. She expressed hope that the same tragic fate will not befall their family and loved ones.

Shui Meng and Edita constantly bear the sadness of having a loved one missing everyday. From sunrise to sunset, especially at supper or dinner time, the thought that they might never come back alive, in flesh and blood, haunts them.

At the observance of the International Day of Enforced Disappearance (Aug. 30), UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said in a statement: “The prohibition of enforced disappearance is absolute, and the use is illegal under any circumstances, including in war, internal instability or any other public emergency.”

The UN official concluded: “On this international day, I urge all Member States to ratify or accede to the Convention without delay, and I call on the States parties to the Convention to implement it. It is time for an end to all enforced disappearances.”

In a short video marking the Day of the Disappeared, Edita Burgos calls on the electorate to choose as leaders those who will protect the people’s rights and welfare, and respect human rights. “We choose people who are God-fearing; let’s choose our leaders very well.”

She described the UN Sec Gen’s statement as “like a drop of rain in a long period of drought.”

She hopes member states will take his word seriously, because people responsible for enforced disappearances continue to be placed in higher positions where they can manipulate situations to sow fear through enforced disappearance.

Since Jonas Burgos’s abduction, his mother has gone to every conceivable forum here and abroad, appearing not just in local forums and rallies, but also before members of Congress in the US and parliamentarians in Europe, and filing cases in court. A couple of years ago she won a round as the Supreme Court directed the Philippine Army to surface Jonas. Concerned authorities have since shrugged off the order Mrs. Burgos said, adding, “they even deny they have Jonas in their custody.”

An educator (she holds a doctorate in Home Economics from the University of the Philippines), Edita Burgos said: “If they will ask me to forgive them, of course I will forgive them, but it is completely a different matter from seeking justice, and I will continue this not only for my son but for all desaparecidos.”

Their videos are posted below.



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