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Lost Children Call for Help to Find Parents

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 31 2014 (IPS) - The “dirty war” in Argentina, that occurred 38 years ago, has left the country mystified, with disappearances still a continuing crime, a victim of the war said Friday.

“I was born at a clandestine detention centre after my mother had been kidnapped and I was only able to spend two days with her until I was stolen,” said Leonardo Fossati, who was only able to learn the truth about his family in 2005.

During the period of 1976 to 1983 Argentina, along with several Latin American countries, were overwhelmed by terrorism as right-winged dictators sought to overthrow and eradicate communism.

In doing so, as many as 500 children are thought to have been kidnapped or born in secret detention centres as their families were believed to have had ties with the left-wing military dictatorship.

Always feeling that he was different from the rest of his family, Fossati approached the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, an organisation that finds the identity and family history of stolen children.

“I began my search with the abuelas (grandmothers). I started the investigation with the available documentation. A few months after I was asked to provide some blood for genetic testing,” Fossati said during an event that brought four recovered children to tell their stories.

“Nine months later I was able to get the result that proved and certified that I had not been abandoned, but stolen.”

Although Fossati was able to uncover his identity, the search is still not over for him.

“The search is not over, I’m still looking for the remains of my parents. In 38 years things that were impossible to imagine then, (forensic testing) is possible now and we’ve only recovered 25 percent,” Fossati said referring to the 110 children who have been recovered.

Lorena Battistiol, who is also still looking for her parents, asked for the community to help their cause.

“I ask you never to abandon the grandmothers, to help them – anything is useful for us. This is a crime that continues and carriers on beyond the crime itself because we continue this struggle and we need to be able to tell this and transmit this message around the world,” she said.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović, praised the Argentine government for its efforts in search of the truth.

Friday’s event coincided with the ‘International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims’.

“The persistent efforts of civil society in Argentina supported by the government have made a considerable contribution to the international recognition to the right of truth,” he said.

“The international community including the U.N. has come a considerable way in recognising the centrality in the search for the truth of justice.”

Fossati agreed with Šimonović and said, “We need to do more in this search and get international support. Today we experience government state policies due to initiatives by human rights agencies and this has made our task much easier and have allowed for justice.”

“Our right to the truth is the right to the truth of an entire society. Join us in our struggle.”

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