Filipino refugees in the Netherlands

commemorate International Day of the Disappeared

Utrecht, the Netherlands

August 30, 2009


View Video




Manila      Baguio City    San Francisco



Alejandra Slutzky of HIJOS explains the current pace of investigation and prosecution of more than 30,000 cases of disappearances in Argentina which occurred in 1976-1983.

Filipino refugees were joined by Indonesians living and studying in the Netherlands.


Photos courtesy of Marikit Saturay and Angie Gonzales / FREN


Filipino Refugees in the Netherlands (FREN)
30 August 2009

International Day of the Disappeared commemorated in the Netherlands

Utrecht, 30 August – Filipino refugees living in the Netherlands and Dutch organization Aim for Human Rights gathered in the city of Utrecht on 29 August to commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared, echoing the global call to ratify the UN Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances and to stop enforced disappearances worldwide.

Participants to the commemoration joined the throng of Saturday shoppers in the city center, holding up photos of the disappeared and giving passersby white balloons with photos and information about the disappeared. Dave Hardy, member of Aim for Human Rights and coordinator of the commemoration activity, led the participants in distributing 300 balloons and telling the stories of the disappeared.

Victims whose stories were heard included Jihad Eid of Lebanon, who disappeared in 1990; agricultural technician Jonas Burgos of the Philippines who was abducted in Manila in April 2007; and indigenous people's leader James Moy Balao, missing since 17 September 2008.

The balloons were later simultaneously released, symbolizing the aspiration that their stories should be spread ever wider, and not to be forgotten. The Filipino refugees and Aim for Human Rights were also joined by HIJOS, families of the disappeared in Argentina, and students from Indonesia.

“It was an effective and successful action,” Mitchie Mallorca Saturay, one of the event's participant, observed. “We need to ensure that the stories of the disappeared are kept alive... We were able to inform a wide public, here in Utrecht, that enforced disappearances is still happening in the Philippines.”

“It is heartwarming to see that the Dutch public and Aim for Human Rights are concerned about the victims of disappearances and the loved ones they left behind,” said Angie Gonzales, member of Filipino Refugees in the Netherlands. “I heard expressions of sympathy and good wishes from quite a number of ordinary passersby today... they understood the barbarity of the abductions and they sympathize with those who are left behind, not knowing if they will ever see their loved ones again.”

Asked why he joined the event, FREN member Boyen Baleva explained, “I know James Balao personally, he is a close friend of mine... I was also a victim of abduction and torture in June 2001 by elements of the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. I consider myself lucky that I was surfaced after five days, that I can tell my story myself.”

“It is appalling to hear that not a single official of the Arroyo government has been held accountable for the disappearance of more than 200 persons since 2001,” Baleva continued. “Arroyo officials express satisfaction whenever one of their own is exonerated, as if to say that keeping cases of enforced disappearances unsolved makes them happy.”

Mrs. Editha Burgos, mother of Jonas Burgos and Chairperson of Desaparecidos, is scheduled to visit several countries in Europe in October and November for a speaking tour. She was invited by several human rights organizations in the continent to shed more light on the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in the Philippines, especially under the current Gloria Arroyo government.

Boyen Baleva
Filipino Refugees in the Netherlands
+31 6 51331013


    Video by Ilena Saturay


Click here for a video on Karen and Sherlyn


Statement by the Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Vancouver,

for the International Day of the Disappeared


The three-word sentence "They remain missing" sums up the pain of a parent, spouse and child over the forced disappearance of their loved ones.

Theirs is the deeply-buried pain that never goes away for the simple basic reason that the truth, however horrible, is kept hidden by those perpetrators who operate with impunity. Witnesses and human rights bodies have all pointed strongly to the Philippine military's hand in these disappearances. The silence of the Arroyo government is seen as approval, if not outright complicity with the practice of enforced disappearances.

On the International Day of the Disappeared, the Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights in Vancouver remembers those who are neither alive nor dead -- those who are the disappeared.
We remember those who are missing, not only under the Arroyo government, but also the victims from the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship.

Together with the many families of the desaparecidos, the human rights groups and supporters around the world, we publicly declare that the missing will not be forgotten and that the struggle to find them will continue to remain strong.

The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights demand that the Arroyo government stop the heinous practice of enforced disappearances and that it surface all the men and women its agents have abducted, tortured, and kept in its secret hiding places, or worse, that it tells the families where the victims are buried in unmarked graves.

In the marches on this day, mothers and wives will hold the poster-sized photos of their missing loved ones pressed close to their hearts. Their children will do the same. Helplessness or resignation will not be on their faces and steps. Instead, their faces will shine with the hope that justice will be served and their hearts will beat with righteous indignation for the repressive Arroyo regime bent on waging war against its own people.

Mrs. Arroyo should be afraid.

A mother’s fury in her search for her children and for justice knows no bounds. And there are many of them.

August 30, 2009
The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
Vancouver, Canada

Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR)
is a member of the Stop the Killings (STK) Network-Canada; the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS); and the International Migrants Alliance (IMA). It is also a coalition partner of the Global and Societal Ministries BC Conference of the United Church of Canada and a proud partner of BAYAN-Canada.