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Part II
The Victims

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


C. The family as victim

It is a feature of the disappearance syndrome that the stability and structure of the family of the person who disappears is profoundly affected. The arrest (generally carried out in the presence of the family or of people connected to the family); the anxious search for news at public offices, law courts, police stations and military garrisons; the hope that some information will arrive, the fantasy of a bereavement that is never confirmed; these are factors that destabilize a family group just as much as the individual members. Behind each disappearance, there is often a family that is destroyed or dismembered, and always a family that is assaulted in what is most intimate: its right to privacy, to the security of its members, and to respect for the profoundly affectionate relations that are the reason for its existence.

This attack on the family has extreme consequences. However, that is only part of the problem. In causing people to disappear, the attack on the family went much further and took on the cruellest, most merciless of forms. There is evidence that on several occasions members of the family were used as hostages for people who were being sought; or that sometimes the presumed responsibility of the person who the police were after rebounded with full force on that person's family, in the form of robbery, physical violence and even disappearances, while at other times the torture was shared or witnessed by members of a suspect's family. To have a person suspected of subversion in the family was more than sufficient reason for punishing the family as a group or individually. To show any solidarity, however minimal, was reason enough for torture, suffering and even disappearance.




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