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Rights: Testimonies

Walker Art Center, 2003
"The core texts [for DissemiNET] are testimonies of children who disappeared during the civil war in El Salvador. These testimonies were contributed by a group called Pro-Búsqueda de los Niños, which is based in San Salvador and with whom I've had previous involvement."
--Beth Stryker

In El Salvador during the 1980s and early 1990s, a fierce civil war raged between government forces and the armed opposition Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. People from all sectors of society who were suspected of opposing the government became victims of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest, torture, "disappearance," and execution without a trial. During the war, many children disappeared. The army seized most of them in the early 1980s during raids on villages considered to be guerrilla strongholds. The soldiers would round everyone up and separate the adults from the children. In some cases military officials took the children home and adopted them. In other cases they were taken to orphanages run by the Red Cross and eventually adopted by families in the United States and Europe. The adults were either executed or, if they survived, would take refuge elsewhere in El Salvador or in neighboring Honduras.

In the years since the war, an organization called Asociación Pro-Búsqueda de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos (The Association for the Search of Disappeared Children), a private El Salvadoran organization established in 1995, has documented over 600 cases of disappeared children. Pro-Búsqueda helps their families, usually refugees with limited financial means, to cope with their loss and investigate the whereabouts of their children. When a child is found, Pro-Búsqueda organizes a meeting if both the child and the parents agree to it. Besides looking for children and providing support to their parents, Pro-Búsqueda has pressured the government of El Salvador to set up a state office to right the old wrongs that tore families apart. For more information about El Salvador's disappeared children:

This site is in Spanish: http://www.probusqueda.org.sv

This Radio Netherlands website includes an article titled "Disappearances," published July 12, 1998: http://www.rnw.nl/humanrights/html/disappearances.html

Copyright 2003 Walker Art Center