In 2019, Hafıza Merkezi published a book titled “Any Hope for Truth? Enforced Disappearances and Missing People in Caucasus, Middle East and North Africa.” Authored by Özgür Sevgi Göral, the book includes chapters on Russia, Armenia-Azerbaijan-Georgia, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Cyprus and Algeria, and presents a comparative analysis on the missing and the disappeared across the countries.
We see this book as a tool to strengthen our ties with organisations working on enforced disappearances and related fields in our region. The idea for this book first came out in a regional thematic workshop we held in Istanbul on January 27, 2017. The participants of this workshop came from all over the region including Armenia, Russia, Georgia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, Cyprus and Turkey, whose work focused on enforced disappearances and the missing. In that workshop, each representative presented a brief overview on the situation of missing persons or enforced disappearances in respective countries.
These presentations reminded us the need for a comparative analysis at a regional level. We saw in this workshop that the phenomenon of the missing and disappearances display many differences and similarities in different countries. In order for civil society to make meaningful collaborations across borders, it is of paramount importance to develop an understanding about these qualities. Therefore, we thought that a comparative understanding of these qualities would present a knowledge base that would strengthen ties between people and organisations working on this issue in different countries.
In this spirit, the book was produced in a collaborative manner, with comments and feedback from workshop participants along the way. Following its publication in 2019, our next step today is to plan study visits to countries covered in the book. The objective remains as to bring people behind the struggles for truth, justice and recognition in respective countries closer to each other. We have started this process with a study visit to Cyprus in November 2019, and are planning our next visit to Lebanon in 2020.