Massacre riles regional peace builders, express solidarity to victims’ families

Massacre riles regional peace builders, express solidarity to victims’ families
Saturday, 28 November 2009
We grieve together with the families of those brutally killed in the 23 November massacre in Ampatuan town in the province of Maguindanao. We stand in solidarity with the Filipino people in voicing their collective outrage over this brazen display of power and arrogance that can only flourish in the continuing culture of impunity that pervades the country.
We are appalled and angered at the manner by which this attack on more than fifty-seven [57] innocent lives was carried out. Women, journalists, lawyers, and defenseless civilians terrorized and murdered by around 100 armed men. Bullet-ridden bodies dumped in mass graves.
Some with their faces and bodies crushed either with rifle butts or by the backhoe that ran over them before they were buried together with their vehicles. Forensic evidence indicates that some may have even been buried alive. The women, victims twice over, had their pants unzipped, showing signs of possible rape.
That the backhoe, undeniably a property of the local government, was readily at hand to dig up the mass graves in order to hide this gruesome crime leads us to ask – did the perpetrators actually believe that they can hide a massacre of such a massive scale?
For them to even think that they can get away with their crime undetected and unpunished speaks a lot about the sorry state of the system of justice and governance in the Philippines today. Where extrajudicial killings abound and perpetrators remain unpunished. Where journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders are abducted and killed amidst the constant denial of the present administration, which claims its adherence to human rights law. Where warlords are assured of political power and a legalized private army, with the benefit of government-issued firearms. Where violators of human rights are rewarded with appointments in government instead of a jail sentence.
We call for an end of this culture of impunity and the pervading system of injustice in the country. Such can only breed more violence and continually create conditions for unpeace.
We reaffirm our strong belief in human rights and on democratic institutions. In the right of women to be free from all forms of violence. In the freedom of expression and of the press, and in the right of the people to be informed. In the legal system and on respect for lawyers, not only as human rights defenders but also as officers of the court. In the right of suffrage and on the electoral process. In good governance and the right to choose our own leaders. In a transparent and accountable government. In the right to equal protection of the law and a government which upholds the rule of law and where no one is above the law. In the right of the people to life and to live a life free from fear.
Even with the eventual “surrender” and filing of charges against one of the main perpetrators of this dastardly act, we remain vigilant in our demand for justice and continue to hold the present Administration accountable until justice is finally served.

We grieve together with the families of those brutally killed in the 23 November massacre in Ampatuan town in the province of Maguindanao. We stand in solidarity with the Filipino people in voicing their collective outrage over this brazen display of power and arrogance that can only flourish in the continuing culture of impunity that pervades the country.

We are appalled and angered at the manner by which this attack on more than fifty-seven [57] innocent lives was carried out. Women, journalists, lawyers, and defenseless civilians terrorized and murdered by around 100 armed men. Bullet-ridden bodies dumped in mass graves.

Some with their faces and bodies crushed either with rifle butts or by the backhoe that ran over them before they were buried together with their vehicles. Forensic evidence indicates that some may have even been buried alive. The women, victims twice over, had their pants unzipped, showing signs of possible rape.

That the backhoe, undeniably a property of the local government, was readily at hand to dig up the mass graves in order to hide this gruesome crime leads us to ask – did the perpetrators actually believe that they can hide a massacre of such a massive scale?

For them to even think that they can get away with their crime undetected and unpunished speaks a lot about the sorry state of the system of justice and governance in the Philippines today. Where extrajudicial killings abound and perpetrators remain unpunished. Where journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders are abducted and killed amidst the constant denial of the present administration, which claims its adherence to human rights law. Where warlords are assured of political power and a legalized private army, with the benefit of government-issued firearms. Where violators of human rights are rewarded with appointments in government instead of a jail sentence.

We call for an end of this culture of impunity and the pervading system of injustice in the country. Such can only breed more violence and continually create conditions for unpeace.

We reaffirm our strong belief in human rights and on democratic institutions. In the right of women to be free from all forms of violence. In the freedom of expression and of the press, and in the right of the people to be informed. In the legal system and on respect for lawyers, not only as human rights defenders but also as officers of the court. In the right of suffrage and on the electoral process. In good governance and the right to choose our own leaders. In a transparent and accountable government. In the right to equal protection of the law and a government which upholds the rule of law and where no one is above the law. In the right of the people to life and to live a life free from fear.

Even with the eventual “surrender” and filing of charges against one of the main perpetrators of this dastardly act, we remain vigilant in our demand for justice and continue to hold the present Administration accountable until justice is finally served.

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