The UN was a refuge, veteran campaigner says


“The United Nations was for us a refuge,” said Estela de Carlotto. “We could come here and people would listen to us and we would be understood. And that friendship, that comprehension, that support has been of the utmost importance to us.”

Carlotto, who now heads the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, made her remarks to the joint session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. For more than three decades, her organization has worked to reunite children taken from their parents during the dictatorship in Argentina with remaining family. The organization estimates that 500 children were taken from government opponents and given to other families through adoption.

During her presentation, Carlotto recounted the driving force behind the group’s actions – the loss of their grandchildren to the secret detention centres of the Argentinian dictatorship and the subsequent loss of babies who were born to disappeared mothers and then given away. In August, Carlotto was reunited with her own grandson, the child of her daughter Laura who was forcibly disappeared by Argentine security forces in 1977 when she was two months pregnant. She was killed soon after her son’s birth.

Carlotto’s presentation to the Committees was highly symbolic. Her organization’s contributions led directly to the inclusion of the right of a child to an identity in both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

She thanked the United Nations for standing with the group for the more than 30 years it has operated, and for walking with them as they moved from a group of inexperienced laywomen to a very sophisticated and complex organization that provides legal and psychological assistance to victims of enforced disappearances.

“I bring you a message of thanks and a commitment: We will always lend our strength and voice to the victims of enforced disappearances” she said.

2 October 2014

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