- Program: Annual Plan Grants
- Fiscal year: On-going
All people and peoples are living histories, walking embodiments of cultural heritage. But what if those walking histories disappeared without a trace?
During the 1970s and early 1980s, the Argentinian government systematically tortured, persecuted, and forced the disappearance of individuals. The period of time was name by the military dictatorship as National Reorganization Process and it has been estimated that 30,000 people were detained and disappeared during its regime. Just about every cross-section of Argentinian society was affected by this state terrorism: babies,political activists, academics, artists, journalists, social workers, and more.
For Argentinians, this period is a collective memory, woven into the fabric of their collective cultural heritage. And it is a trauma that must be to be acknowledged, reconciled and healed.
|“||Trauma leads to fragmented and fractured identities that in turn contribute to the escalation of violence between people. The future feels meaningless, and people articulate their felt sense of powerlessness and lack of life purpose in violent acts on themselves and others. Relationships are destroyed and communities fragment. These problems cascade down the generations, growing more complex over time.||”|
|— Judy Atkinson|
Human rights organizations, such as the Asociación Civil Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo, have fought for such acknowledgment by educating society on what happened, and pushing for justice. In 2005 Argentina Supreme Court dictaminated the actions of the state terrorism as crimes against humanity and became an international example because of the judment of the responsables of these crimes. Wikimedia Argentina, through several grants from the Wikimedia Foundation, has become a key partner of Human Rights Organizations by providing a new avenue for their work: Wikimedia projects, and free and open knowledge. The idea of advocating under the banner of free and open knowledge has been especially necessary as human rights work becomes more difficult (and less supported) under the current Argentinian government.
One of their key collaborations has been with the Parque De La Memoria, or the Park of Memory. Located in Buenos Aires, the park is a place of remembrance and reflection. For instance, in the park there is a monument that displays the names of the victims of the military dictatorship.
|“||This place of memory does not pretend to close wounds or replace truth and justice, but rather to become a place of remembrance, homage, testimony and reflection. Its objective is for current and future generations that visit the site to become aware of the horror perpetrated by the State and the need to ensure that similar acts will NEVER AGAIN occur.||”|
|— Parque De La Memoria|
Wikimedia Argentina has been helping the Parque De La Memoria to release and manage a database of those who were illegally detained or disappeared. It is an archive where families, and society, can send photos or provide information. Through this database, the people are uploaded to Wikidata or the photos to Wikimedia Commons, allowing families to display their lost son, daughter, grandson, husband, or wife online. The recognition and acknowledgement that comes from this act is one tangible way these organizations are pursuing memory, truth and justice in Argentina.
But the importance of this work goes beyond Argentina. Many Latin American countries have faced (or continue to face) similar state terrorism; in some countries, the fight for truth and justice is blocked by censorship and propaganda. In such an environment, free and open knowledge becomes immeasurably valuable. Wikimedia Argentina’s WikiHumanRights project is not just about documenting the crimes against humanity committed by Argentinian dictatorships. It’s about showing other countries, other governments, other institutions - human rights or cultural heritage institutions - that these traumatic events deserve to be acknowledged and remembered. These events are a part of the collective cultural heritage of each country, and of the continent. And it should be freely shared with the world.
|“||The database, the images, the articles are part of a cultural reflection of what happened here. We are trying to reach all the communities and cultural institutions, and [have] Wikipedia have articles about things that are relevant to Argentina and Latin American society. But what happened here is not the only country that happened. In Chile, in Uruguay, they had a very similar process with dictatorships. So working with them to create a local memory in Spanish Wikipedia.||”|
|— Giselle Bordoy, Wikimedia Argentina|
- Marchak, P., & Marchak, W. (1999). God's assassins: state terrorism in Argentina in the 1970s. McGill-Queen's Press-MQUP.
- Atkinson, Judy. (2002). Trauma Trails, Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous