Daily World News Digest, 1 July 2016

Enforced disappearances: the plight of Kashmir’s “half widows”

The Herald, a daily from Pakistan, carried a story on 30 June about thousands of widows in the India-administred Kashmir valley; women whose husbands were killed either by militants, state security forces or in crossfire. The region lies close to the line of control and along an accessible cross-over route to Pakistan-administered Kashmir, leaving its residents extremely exposed to the conflict. The term “half widows” is used to describe the wives of men who have disappeared but have not been declared dead. The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons estimates that 8,000-10,000 men have disappeared since 1989, leading to an estimated 1,500 ‘half-widows’ in India-administered Kashmir. However, the Indian government doesn’t recognize the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in Kashmir and asserts that the “missing” count is not more than 4,000. This leaves the “half-widows” in a state of permanent limbo and unresolved grief which results in post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. According to a recent survey by Action Aid, 14 percent of the 4,000 Kashmiri men and women studied were found to have severe mental health illnesses, the most common of which is depression. http://bit.ly/296VZmN

At least 10 dead on migrant boat sinking off Italy

Yahoo News reports today that according to the Italian coastguard at least 10 people died after a rubber boat loaded with migrants began sinking in the Mediterranean on Thursday. A total of 107 people had been rescued from the stricken vessel and 10 bodies had been recovered. It was possible the final death toll could be higher as dinghies used by people smugglers often carry up to 140 people. A total of 116 people were safely picked up in a separate operation in waters between Sicily and Libya on Thursday. The latest deaths were discovered as Italian authorities began removing the remains of hundreds of corpses from a salvaged fishing boat which sank off Libya last year in the deadliest disaster of the migrant crisis. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has vowed to give all of the victims decent burials as a way of highlighting the human cost of trafficking. http://yhoo.it/294QbcB

Philippines: President Duterte must break the cycle of human rights violations

Amnesty International today called on new President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte to fulfil his inauguration pledge and uphold the country’s commitment to break with the poor human rights record. “In a context where a climate of impunity for human rights violations prevails in the Philippines, President Duterte triggered widespread alarm by calling for the restoration of the death penalty, vowing to preside over a wave of extrajudicial executions, threatening journalists, and intimidating human rights defenders since winning the presidential election,” Amnesty said. “In recent weeks, President Duterte promised large sums of money as rewards to urge people to kill suspected drug smugglers, said that security forces will be allowed to carry out ‘shoot-to-kill’ orders against criminal suspects resisting arrest, and has displayed a callous disregard for killings of journalists.” Amnesty has published a program of action for the Duterte administration, outlining that the new administration should prioritise putting an end to extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, and secret detention, as well as torture and other ill treatment. http://bit.ly/29kLUoj

JKUAT commemorates

The NewTimes, an English daily from Rwanda, carried a story today about the staff and students of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) who visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center to honor victims of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The visit was in line with Rwanda’s 22nd commemoration of victims who perished in the genocide. The director of JKUAT Kigali campus promised support for genocide survivors and urged students to take advantage of social media to fight genocide ideology and denial. http://bit.ly/297PG2P

Call for sanctions against Nigerian military

The Nigerian Voice, a portal from South Africa, reports today on a call for suspension of weapons sales to Nigeria amid mounting human rights violations which, it says, include “criminal destruction of property, extra-judicial massacre of civilians, widespread torture and rape of women”. A great majority of the victims of extra-judicial executions and other such massacres are buried in mass graves, it says. http://bit.ly/29wkU4m

Escape tunnel, dug by hand, is found at holocaust massacre site

The New York Times carried a story on 29 June about a tunnel dug during the Nazi era which was found in Lithuania on Wednesday. A team of archaeologists and mapmakers uncovered a forgotten tunnel that 80 Jews had dug largely by hand as they tried to escape from a Nazi extermination site in Lithuania about 70 years ago. The location, called ‘Ponar’, holds mass burial pits and graves where up to 100,000 people were killed and their bodies dumped or burned during the Holocaust. A previous attempt made by a different team in 2004 to find the underground structure had only located its mouth, which was subsequently left unmarked. The new finding traces the tunnel from entrance to exit and provides evidence to support survivor accounts of the harrowing effort to escape the holding pit. Using radar and radio waves to scan beneath the ground, the researchers found the tunnel, a 100-foot passageway between five and nine feet below the surface. http://nyti.ms/292KtNu

Items in Daily World News Digest are summaries of published reports relevant to the issue of missing persons, compiled by ICMP staff.  These items do not necessarily reflect the position of ICMP.