Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A deafening silence

Families and supporters of victims of enforced disappearance

Where Activist Jonas Burgos was abducted 4 years ago

Pictures of the dead and disappeared

Pictures of the dead and disappeared

Photography means many things to different people. Among its various aspects, I recognize and respect its potential to speak truth to power. It adds a visual voice to those who speak out against injustice. Who speak for those who cannot speak. For those who have been silenced.

Today is the International Day of the Disappeared. It is a sobering reminder of the thousands of victims of enforced disappearances -- in the Philippines and around the world -- taken away from their loved ones and communities by State agents and held in secret detention sites, most never to be heard from or seen again. This commemoration speaks of an almost unimaginable cruelty inflicted not just on the disappeared persons but also on those left behind.

I know that photography can't change this situation. Photographs seem such paltry things in the face of the powerful forces that perpetuate or condone these crimes, or allow them to go unpunished. Still, I see photography as a way to counter that deafening silence, and so I add my small voice to those who are much braver than me, who never give up on finding their loved ones and friends, and work tirelessly to end impunity and injustice.

Photography also means saluting their bravery and never forgetting.


*Photos taken during the 4th year anniversary of the abduction of Jonas Burgos in April 2011 and during the State of the Nation Address protest in July 2011.

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