Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, January 31, 2011

Saviour's Day

As usual, I am writing my contributions to the Amnesty International Greetings Card Campaign at the last possible moment. Partly my natural disorganisation, partly a wish to spread the arrival of cards at the destination out as well as possible. Nah, just kidding, mostly disorganisation.

When one writes letters for Amnesty it's easy to become hardened: a torture victim here, a disappeared spouse there, an execution somewhere else. I always read the background of those for (or as here, to) whom I am writing so as to get some perspective. A few years ago, before I had a family and when I could spend more time on letter-writing, I used to work on quite complicated casework in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, where each action had a minimum of 4-5 pages of background materials and sometimes upward of 100. So I got used to reading fairly detailed descriptions of a wide variety of human rights abuses.

In this year's Greetings Card campaign I was working my way down through the guys locked up for writing short stories, or for spray-painting slogans on walls, or for no good reason at all. Passing over the communities trying to protect their way of life from guerrilla warfare or intensive fossil fuel extraction, I was brought up short by one of the cases.

This one, to be precise.

Maybe it's because I'm a father, whose two children (girl, boy) have a four-year age gap like Ernestina and Erlinda Serrano Cruz. Maybe it's because I can remember when mine were seven and three, some fifteen years back. Maybe it's that these girls went missing nearly twice as long ago as that. Or maybe it's that their mother died without ever knowing what became of them. Anyway, this is the one that had me briefly tearful.

Your mileage may vary.

But it's a staggering thought that those girls went missing before this song was even written:

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