Group fighting forced disappearances wins Asia democracy award

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) won the 2016 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award on Thursday, in recognition of its efforts to resolve the problem of forced disappearances in Asia.

“The AFAD has made indelible contributions in pushing states to address the rights of families of the disappeared and in seeking justice for the victims,” Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), chairman of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, which presents the award, said after announcing the winner at a press conference.

He noted that the federation was a major force behind the United Nations’ adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances in 2006, and has in recent years been active in lobbying Asian governments to sign and ratify the convention.

Su, who is also Taiwan’s legislative speaker, noted that many instances of politically motivated disappearances also occurred in Taiwan when the country was under authoritarian rule.

As someone who took part in rescue missions for the disappeared at that time, Su said he could deeply empathize with the fear suffered by the victims’ families and the hardships faced by human rights organizations in authoritarian countries.

Founded in 1998 in Manila, the AFAD facilitates searches for people who are abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization, and works to ensure the attainment of truth, justice, redress and the reconstruction of the collective memory of the disappeared.

The annual Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award was established by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy in 2006 to recognize individuals or organizations in Asia that have made significant contributions to promoting democracy and advancing human rights through peaceful means.

Past recipients include Reporters Without Borders, Rescue Foundation of India, ECPAT International (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) and Kim Seong-Min, founder and director of Free North Korea Radio.

The award ceremony will take place on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day. The award comes with a trophy and a grant of US$100,000.

Funded mainly by the government, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy is a Taipei-based non-profit organization aimed at promoting democracy and human rights.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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