Washington, DC - Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo: Friday was the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Authoritarian regimes often disappear advocates for freedom and human rights, journalists, political opposition, and others to silence the voices of those who challenge their authority or express dissent, and as a tool of oppression.
In too many places around the world, enforced disappearances occur regularly at the hands of authoritarian regimes. In Burma, the military has used this practice against Rohingya and other ethnic minorities. In North Korea, authorities disappear religious practitioners and those accused of political crimes. The Assad regime’s brutal violence against the Syrian people continues with forced disappearances, torture, and indiscriminate killing of civilians. In Venezuela, enforced disappearances of members of parliament, the military, and civilians have become routine under Maduro’s illegitimate regime. In Iraq, families of the victims of ISIS and Saddam Hussein continue to call for the exhumation of mass graves to learn the fate of their loved ones.
The practice of enforced disappearance is unconscionable, and regimes that use this practice are proving they are weak and fragile. We call for justice for victims of enforced disappearances and accountability for those who commit these crimes, and urge all countries to abandon this unlawful practice.