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Towards equal and plural recognition of victims

This is the first Op-Ed article that was jointly drafted within the Argituz Human Rights Association back in July 2010. I remember it was hard work because we took a good month in reaching a consensus. We later learnt how to streamline the process of reaching consensus within Argituz when drafting articles, which was clearly necessary. But none of that detracts from the merits of this article. Reading it now, several years later, gives us the perspective of where we were then and where we are now, and of the long and winding road we have used to get here. The article was signed by Joana Abrisketa , Jon Landa, Pedro Larraia, Iñaki Lekuona, Carlos Martín, Benito Morentin, Sabino Ormazábal and myself.

Here are the final three paragraphs of the article:

“Even the very concepts that are used to define human rights violations are subjected to restrictions and lack of knowledge. For example, in many cases, the condition of victim of terrorism depends on whether the perpetrators had acted in a clandestine manner or wearing a uniform. The problem with these categories is not the analysis that somebody could make thereof, or the historical opinion they deserve depending on ideology, but the fact that they bring about negative and discriminatory consequences for many victims. The rights they are entitled to, and that are determined by International Human Rights Law have not been translated correctly into the current laws. Instead, there are better or worse categories, with services and reparation discourses that are based more on categorization than in the recognition of the facts. Such an asymmetry is unfair for the direct victims and their relatives, and has collective implications because it perpetuates wounds that do not allow us to rebuild society for the future we all want of cohabitation and peace.

We wish to greet the initiative of reviewing such policies and we recommend political parties and social movements to have the proactive and positive stance of passing the frontiers of analysis and ideologies. A public and inclusive policy of victims should not only respond to the always-postponed demand of recognition of some victimas so that they are no longer called “the other victims”. It should also be a contribution to the respect of human rights and social reconstruction.

Leaving things as they are, in discrimination and lack of recognition, or shutting oneself in exclusive schemes, or limiting oneself to cases with a judicial sentences would again reproduce marginalization of victims. As already happens in cases of torture that have had effective judicial investigation or a determination of individual responsibilities, reparation has been established with the standards used in traffic accidents and not with human rights standards. We should not let this legacy of injustice be a part of our recent history. Hundreds of people who were victims of human rights violations expect and deserve a dignified response in which they would be the centre of attention, and not the political concerns of one or another political party”.

It is my intention to translate all my articles into English. Once I get to translate this article in full, I shall publish the translation here. In the meantime, the article in its original form in Spanish and Basque may be read in the links below.

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