Profiles of the Missing
Together with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), The Swedish Institute of International Affairs held a seminar on the issue of people who go missing involuntarily as a result of conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, and irregular migration, among other circumstances. Speakers included survivors of missing persons and those who work with survivors. The conference explored ways in which family members can secure their rights to truth, justice and reparations.
The forum included speakers from Syria, and the Ezidi population in Northern Iraq, as well as a survivor of the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica and a family member who lost a loved one in the 2004 Southeast Asian Tsunami. ICMP Commissioners, including Swedish diplomat Rolf Ekéus, Her Majesty Queen Noor, former Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan, and International Criminal Court Judge Monageng spoke at the event, as will Dr. Jan Ilhan Kizilhan, an Ezidi psychiatrist working with trauma victims in Germany.
Survivors spoke about their own experiences, including the need to work together with others in the same or similar situation. They discussed the main elements of an effective international response to this issue.
Welcoming Remarks: Ambassador Rolf Ekéus, ICMP Commissioner
Her Majesty Queen Noor, ICMP Commissioner
Ms. Munira Subasic (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Munira Subasic’s husband and son, Hilmo and Nermin Subasic, and 20 other members of the Subasic family were killed in July 1995 during the Srebrenica genocide. Two small bones, found in separate mass graves, belonging to Nermin have been identified by ICMP. Hilmo’s remains were identified in 2005, and he was buried the same year. Munira Subasic is the President of the Association “Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves”.
Ms. Dalal Ali Khairo (Iraq), is a member of the Ezidi community in Iraqi Kurdistán. At age 16, she, her mother and sisters were abducted by militants from so-called Islamic State. She spent a year in captivity before her escape. Her mother and other family members remain in captivity. With Jan Kizilhan and Alexander Cavelius, she described her experiences in “Shrin – I Will Remain the Daughter of the Light”, published in 2016 in Germany.
Ms. Rebecca Sjöstrand (Sweden). When Rebecca Sjöstrand was 14 years old, her cousin Sandra Blomberg (aged 22), was working at a resort in Thailand for a Swedish travel agency. Sandra, along with hundreds of thousands of other people, went missing on 26 December 2004 as a consequence of the earthquake and tsunami in Southeast Asia. The tsunami left 543 Swedish victims. Sandra’s body was among those that were eventually recovered, identified, and returned to their families.
Ms. Noura Al-Jizawi (Syria), Noura Al-Jizawi was detained without charge and tortured by Syrian security services. Some of her family members remain in detention. After her release, Noura was twice elected to the position of Vice President of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (SNC), additionally serving as a member of the political committee on three occasions. She was a member of the SNC negotiating team at the Geneva peace talks in 2014. She is the founder and director of Start Point, an NGO dedicated to raising awareness of human rights and gender issues in the Syrian conflict.
Dr. Jan Ilhan Kizilhan (Germany) heads a project to bring 1,100 Ezidi girls and women to Germany for post-trauma treatment, following their captivity and abuse at the hands of so-called Islamic State. He is Dean of the Institute of Psychotherapy and Psychotraumatology at the University of Duhok/Northern Iraq and author of “The Psychology of the Islamic State – The Logic of Mass Murder”.
Judge Sanji M. Monageng (Botswana), has been a Judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) since March 2009. She served as ICC Vice-President from 2012-2015. In 2007, she was appointed Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Judge Monageng has been an ICMP Commissioner since May 2017.
Dr. Surin Pitsuwan (Thailand) was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand from 1997 until 2001. Between 2008 and 2012 he served as the 12th Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ASEAN’s Humanitarian Coordinator. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan has been an ICMP Commissioner since June 2016.
Ms. Kathryne Bomberger, is Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons. ICMP is an international organization based in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons. ICMP currently maintains programs in the Western Balkans, Iraq, Syria, and Colombia. ICMP helped to identify 796 victims of the Southeast Asian Tsunami from 22 nationalities, including 42 Swedish nationals. Sweden is a State Party to the 2014 Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons.
Moderator: Ms. Bitte Hammargren, Middle East analyst, Chief Editor of Utrikesmagasinet, and Program Leader at UI