Ester Alvarenga of El Salvador Admired the Strong Testimonies of Oromos at New York

July 24, 2012 ( — Ester Alvarenga of El Salvador admired the strong testimonies of Oromos during a panel discussion in the presence of a U.N. Special Rapporteur, Professor Juan Mensez at the Catholic University of America. She said, “I have heard many testimonies but that of two Africans (Oromos), Hussien Ahmed and Fayera Nagaraa, was the most powerful of all testimonies I have ever heard.”

A delegation of survivors visited the United Nations, hosted by Franciscans International and other faith-based NGOs with observer status at the UN. Out of six delegates, two of them, Hussien Ahmed and Fayera Nagaraa, were from Africa (Oromia).

Hussein Ahmed is a survivor of torture from Oromia, currently living in Norway. He spoke of the real danger that 400 survivors of torture may be deported back to Ethiopia.

He was joined by Ester Alvarenga, from Pro-Busqueda in El Salvador, an organization that reunites children kidnapped by the Salvadoran military in the 1980s with their parents.

Neris Gonazlez was one of three Salvadoran plaintiffs who brought to justice two Salvadoran generals living in Miami for their role in the torture, disappearance, and execution of thousands of Salvadorans during the 1980’s civil war.

Aileen Bacalso and her husband Edsil, both from the Philippines, recounted the courageous witness of family members of the disappeared from around the world who successfully lobbied the UN General Assembly to pass a new convention against enforced disappearances in December 2006.

For the second consecutive year, TASSC joined the Program for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (PSTT), a treatment center in Northern Virginia, to convene health professionals in the Washington DC metropolitan area for a series of panels with survivors and workshops with health professionals on “Rebuilding a Life after Torture.”

Survivors also joined 40 university students from The Washington Center and lobbied 15 Congressional offices, urging representatives and senators to end the practice of detention of asylum seekers and to condition U.S. aid to countries that torture.

Photo courtesy:  Aileen Bacalso. Ester is not shown on the photo. The group consisted six people – two from Asia (the Philipines), two from Africa (Oromia) and two from South America – (El Salvador.)