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Part I
The Repression

Nunca Más (Never Again) - Report of Conadep  - 1984


Why did the bodies disappear?

It is hard for us, after our difficult and complex search for living disappeared prisoners, to accept that many of them are dead and that their bodies have been scattered or destroyed as part of a planned policy of making them disappear.

This evidence necessarily leads us to ask, why such an evil policy? Why should the bodies be destroyed? Was it on the same basis as an individual criminal trying to wipe out all traces of his act? We do not think this sufficient explanation.

There was something more, which had to do with the methodology of disappearance. First it was the people, their absence giving hope to the relatives that the kidnap victim would be freed and return; then the concealment and destruction of documentation, which undoubtedly existed in every case, prolonging the uncertainty about what had happened, and finally, the nameless bodies, without identity, driving people distraught at the impossibility of knowing the specific fate of their loved one. It was a bottomless pit of horror.

This is why we think that the nameless bodies fit into the same way of thinking that took the initial decision to make people disappear: wiping out the identity of the corpses magnified the shadow hanging over the thousands of disappeared of whom all trace was lost after their arrest or kidnapping.

It was another way of paralysing public protest, of ensuring the silence of the relatives. By giving them hope that their loved ones might be alive, in the nebulous category of missing persons, an ambiguity was created which forced the relatives into isolation, frightened to do anything which might annoy the government. They were terrified by the mere idea that their own actions might decide whether their son, daughter, father or brother joined the lists of the dead.

It was also a way of trying to stall investigation into the facts. By the covering-up process, the apportioning of individual responsibility was blurred, The shadow of suspicion was cast over a great many military officers - unless they could prove otherwise, which was almost impossible - as to their personal role in the direction or execution of these crimes.

Lastly, at the heart of this policy of total disappearance lay the prevention by every possible means of solidarity being shown by the population in general, with all the protests and demands this would lead to within the country, and the knowledge abroad that behind the facade of a fight against a terrorist minority lurked genocide.





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