Brazil: "Messengers of Memory"

18 October 2016
Brazil: "Messengers of Memory"
In the search for the disappeared, we, family members, write a different story." Meeting of relatives of missing people in São Paulo. Photo: Marizilda Cruppe/ICRC

"The first memory is of the disappeared, but the second memory is of our search for them." A loved one gone missing will remain with family members for the rest of their lives, and their search creates a story its own that is often forgotten.

Some of these stories were remembered during a gathering of relatioves of people who disappeared during the military regime in Brazil (1964-1985) on 14 and 15 October in Sao Paulo. The meeting was organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and was attended by four generations of family members involved in the so-called "Vala dos Perus case".

Clarisse Mantuano brought her seven-month-old daughter Beatriz to the meeting: "In my family we've always included the children. My grandmother took my mother and they both took me to events related to the memory of my uncle. This is how we preserve our memories - by taking the children along."

The meeting was an opportunity for different generations to meet, discuss their needs, share stories and renew their hopes. It is also an opportunity for the family to catch up and plan future activities. Photo: Marizilda Cruppe/ICRC

"Meetings like this are important as they provide opportunities for families to gather to break the isolation of some relatives and help them to get to know one another and develop bonds," said Marianne Pecassou, Protection coordinator for the ICRC Regional Delegation in Brasilia. "In addition, these events are important occasions to explore ways of raising the profile of this issue since it is often invisible," she added.

At the request of the Brazilian authorities, the ICRC started working on this issue in 2013. Photo: Marizilda Cruppe/ICRC