Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Mindanao and the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines

hold an indignation rally condemning the Ampatuan  Massacre

 

Click here for more indignation rallies

 

Cagayan de Oro City

 

November 27, 2009

 

 

   
   

Members of the Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Mindanao joined the group of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines in an indignation rally condemning the deaths of lawyers, journalists and other unarmed civilians in the Maguindanao Massacre. The Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Mindanao is currently holding its 3rd Mindanao Assembly in Cagayan de Oro City. Lawyer-members of UPLM, Atty. Concepcion Brizuela and Atty. Cynthia Oquendo were among the victims of the carnage last Nov. 23.

     

 

These 6 photos are from the Facebook account, We Condemn the Maguindanao Massacre

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/maguindanaomassacre?ref=ts

 

 

 

 

/p

/p
Photos courtesy of NUPLM
           
           

 

NEWS RELEASE
November 27, 2009

Lawyers to collaborate with CHR on Maguindanao Massacre

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The killing of two lawyers in the Maguindanao Massacre punctuated the gathering of almost a hundred lawyers and paralegal staff during the 3rd assembly of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao held in Philtown Hotel, this city.

The laywers are also set to collaborate with the Commission on Human Rights to seek justice for the Maguindanao massacre victims.

Human Rights Commissioner Leila de Lima and discussed about possible collaboration in dealing with the Maguindanao Massacre.

According to Atty. Eduardo Estores, Chairperson of UPLM in Davao City, “our gathering is made more significant by the recent killing of our colleagues who were supposed to join us today. We will ensure that this assembly will exhaust discussion on legal remedies and actions that we will undertake to seek justice for our slain colleagues in Maguindanao.”

Members of the UPLM Atty. Concepcion Brizuela and Atty. Cynthia Oquendo were among the victims of the Maguindanao massacre last Monday.

“We have expressed our condemnation and now we are in the process of taking actions to help in ensuring that justice will be served to the victims of the Maguindanao massacre,” Estores said.

During the UPLM assembly, Commissioner De Lima gave an input on “Promoting and Defending Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom: Challenges to Public Interest Lawyering.”

De Lima in her speech before almost a hundred lawyers and paralegals from all-over Mindanao stressed that the Commission on Human Rights will not be able to carry out the independent parallel investigation without the help of other organizations especially lawyers.

According to Atty. Carlos Zarate, Secretary-General of UPLM, the assembly of people’s lawyers is set to craft a campaign plan for justice for all the victims of Ampatuan massacre.

“We will be closely working with the Commission on Human Rights and other independent investigative bodies such as the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines for our cooperation in the investigations,” Zarate said.

“Because we are up against an institution that has been there for so long a time, displaying grave abuse of power and elite warlordism, we need to muster all possible areas of cooperation with human rights groups and press freedom advocates,” he said.

“The group has also agreed in principle that we will file a resolution that will request the government agencies such as the Department of Interior and Local Government to temporarily suspend the administrative functions of the Governor of ARMM Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr. and Shariff Aguak Mayor Zaldy Ampatuan to pave way for a speedy and impartial investigation,” Zarate said.

“That is just one of the plans but definitely before this assembly ends we will come up with a more comprehensive campaign plan for the Maguindanao massacre victims,” he said.

The lawyers will be holding a candle-lighting rally from Kiosko Kagawasan to the Press Freedom monument Mac-Arthur Park in Cagayan de Oro City this afternoon. #

For reference:
Atty. Carlos Zarate
0917-7174014

November 27, 2009
Media Release

 

     
     
           

x

 

 

PRESS STATEMENT                                          References:           Marie Hilao-Enriquez, KARAPATAN  Chairperson

November 28, 2009                                                                               Mobile Number +63917 561 6800

                                                                                                                Emmi de Jesus, Gabriela Women's Party

                                                                                                                Mobile Number +639173221203        

                                                                                                                Girlie T. Padilla, Tanggol Bai

                                                                                                                Mobile Number +639088941870                                        

  

On the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, we call on the Filipino people to stop the killings, stop human rights violations; end the murderous US-Arroyo regime!

 

 

“If they can kill lawyers, (they can) practically (kill) anybody. If they can kill judges where cases are pending then they can do that to ordinary people.” – Atty. Connie Brizuela, (UPLM))

 

November 29 is designated as International Day on Women Human Rights Defenders.  Today, as we in KARAPATAN, the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, Gabriela Women’s Party and Tanggol Bai observe this day, we pay tribute to women human rights defenders killed under the Arroyo regime; especially the two fellow women human rights defenders who lost their lives along with 25 journalists and several other civilians in what is now called the Ampatuan Massacre.

 

Atty. Connie Brizuela was a member of the Union of People's Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) and the Gabriela Network of Professionals in North Cotabato.  A small but feisty human rights lawyer, she took the cases of the abused and marginalized, including cases of violence against women.  She did so in the midst of various death threats to her life. Her body was found among those massacred in Maguindanao, her face beyond recognition.

 

Another lawyer, Atty. Cynthia Oquendo was no stranger to the plight of poor Filipinos; she was a Gabriela Youth organizer as an undergraduate student, in San Carlos, Cebu and after graduation, practiced law in her hometown in Polomolok, South Cotabato. She was believed to have been raped along with the rest of the 22 other women victims of the gruesome carnage in Maguindanao. Her life was snuffed at a promising age of 35.

 

Filipinos are no stranger to the arrest, detention, torture, disappearance and brutal killings of human rights defenders in this country.  Since 2001, human rights violations were tolerated and unpunished which has led to a culture of impunity among the violators. Warlords have been emboldened by their smug closeness to the national leadership that has condoned and encouraged these killings, to commit a bloodbath like the Maguindanao massacre.

 

Under the US-Arroyo regime, there are 1, 115 victims of extrajudicial killings, 50 are women human rights defenders; 10 of them were disappeared out of the 203 victims of enforced disappearance while 61 have suffered illegal detention out of the 1,934 victims of the same violation.

 

These brutal killings and gross and systematic violations committed by the US-Arroyo regime are engendered by its mad and criminal counter-insurgency program called Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).  OBL will supposedly end the insurgency in the country.  But this program has been the bloodiest and most vicious counter-insurgency plan unleashed by a Philippine president who ironically happens to be the second woman to assume the position.  OBL lumped together the armed resistance fighters and the unarmed legal activists and leaders of people’s organizations as “enemies of the state” and “front organizations” of communist groups so that mere labeling of individuals has led to their eventually being killed or disappeared.

 

Police, military and paramilitary groups such as CAFGU’s, CVO’s and CAA’s have been mobilized and deployed in OBL-identified priority areas that registered high incidence of killings and other human rights violations.

 

On the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, let us honor the memories of our fellow human rights defenders who have selflessly given their lives and worked hard to defend the rights of our fellow Filipinos, especially the poorest and the voiceless people of our land.  On this day, we raise our fists and shout, “Justice to the women human rights defenders killed, disappeared, tortured and persecuted!  Justice to all victims of human rights violations!  Stop the killings, stop Oplan Bantay Laya!  End the murderous US-Arroyo regime NOW! ###

     
     
     
           
           


“Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace.” Isa. 59:7-8

Ampatuan Massacre, A By-product of Government Tolerated Warlordism

(Statement of PCPR on the Ampatuan Massacre)

The Promotion of Church People's Response (PCPR) is in solidarity with the mourning nation . We are indignant on the gruesome, monstrous and ruthless massacre of people in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. The world grieves on this atrocious acts as the international community express their sympathy as well as calling for jsutice.

The said incident last November 23 that recorded more than 50 people barbarically killed by 100 armed men reportedly near a military detachment is despicable.

Killing the numerous media practitioners and lawyers and candidate's supporters shows how masterminds and their butchers spare no one. By doing so, they paraded their heinous power , sending a message that they are not afraid of anyone and that they can do the most gruesome crime with impunity. From whence their power comes? Since 2001, political killings in this country happens with impunity. Could it be the the GMA who cuddles the crime of killings to protect her power, had also cuddled the warlord in Maguindanao? She benifits from the violence spurs by the warlords and her governemnt creates the climate of criminal impunity for almost nine years under GMA regime.

It is undeniable that massacre was brought about by historical clan war between two powerful parties in Maguindanao. Worse, it was obviously tolerated by the national leadership due to their both political interest to stay in power. Irrefutably, influential and political families uses regular and para-military as their private armies to advance their personal interests.

Moreover, people must be extra vigilant in what had been transpired and going to be happen as the 2010 election getting nearer. These might be use for their favor to subject the whole nation under state of emergency, thus, justify the no election scenario. We must always be reminded of the last presidential election. They can massacre people just to stay in power.

It is in this situation, we share in the outraged and sentiments of the Filipino people. We held theArroyo governent and their allies accountable to the escalating human rights situation in the Philippines. We are firm in our prophetic stand that faithful must defend human life and dignity. We call to end impunity. Stop the killings in the Philippines!

Reference:
Mr. Nardy Sabino,
Secretary-General
PCPR
pcprnatl@gmail.com
 

 

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
November 27, 2009

NUJP demands independent probe, special court to try massacre suspects

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) demands the creation of an independent commission, to include media representatives, to investigate the Ampatuan massacre and the events that led to it.

This is to help ensure that no whitewash will happen and to identify the roots and those responsible for this unimaginable crime.

The NUJP is also demanding the creation of a special court with a presiding judge of impeccable credentials to undertake the trial of the suspects.

The filing of charges against Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., the prime suspect in this barbarity, does not mean that justice for the 57 victims, their families and the Filipino people has been served.

Justice means that all those who have participated, directly or indirectly, those who ordered the slaughter and those who allowed it to happen are arrested, prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of our laws.

The dismal fate of the cases of 104 Filipino journalists murdered since 1986, 64 under the present administration, the low case of conviction -- only four -- warrants an impartial and transparent investigation especially since t the primary suspects are close allies of Malacañang.

The massacre raised the number of journalists killed since 1986 to at least 141, 91 under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration.

The NUJP will actively support an international mission to the Philippines led by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) next month to investigate the killings.

We also call for support to the IFJ-initiated Global Day of Action to be held on December 9 to condemn the killings and demand justice.


For reference:
 

Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
NUJP Chairman

0917-7256333

           
=          
==          
           

x

 

In solidarity with the victims of the Maguindanao massacre,

 

 

Interfaith group calls on the Moro and non-Moro masses

to unite and defeat the culture of impunity

 

25 November 2009

  

The Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA), a national interfaith organization advocating for the recognition of the Bangsamoro people’s struggle for land and right to self-determination, extends its deepest sympathy to the families and relatives of the victims of the mass murder in Maguindanao.

 

The MCPA holds the Arroyo regime accountable for the mass killing of more than 50 people including women, lawyers and media practitioners in Maguindanao last November 23.  It is highly outrageous that the massacre happened in broad daylight and in a place where there is a strong military and police presence.

 

The province of Maguindanao, a province in the poorest and underdeveloped Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in southern Philippines, has long been in the grip of the feared and untouchable warlord Ampatuan clan, suspected perpetrator of the mass murder. Despite having been accused as corrupt, land grabber and responsible for the many documented and undocumented serious cases of human rights violations in Maguindanao, the Ampatuans enjoy the political support of President Arroyo. The Ampatuan’s notorious private armies are being cuddled by the AFP and the PNP and are allied forces in the counterinsurgency campaign in the province.

 

The forcible abduction and mass killing of a group of people composed of majority women, media and human rights defenders in the Ampatuan-controlled Maguindanao who wished to exercise their democratic rights and fundamental freedoms, was clear indication of the deepening culture of impunity that is being promoted under President Arroyo’s fascist rule.

 

The big number of women victims in the Maguindanao massacre likewise showed one and all that having a woman President does not guarantee safety and protection for women. In war-torn Mindanao, the Bangsamoro women suffer the most serious forms of human rights violations such as internal displacement, rape and killings.

 

The Maguindanao massacre is not an isolated incident.  Nor it will be the last gruesome crime to happen in Mindanao. The prevailing culture of impunity will breed more Ampatuans; political warlords who will ensure and safeguard Arroyo’s hold to power in extremely vicious ways and forms.

 

MCPA demands no less than President Arroyo to render swift justice to the victims of the Maguindanao massacre and urgently takes on the following actions:

 

  1. Pull out all the AFP and PNP forces assigned in Maguindanao at the time of

      the massacre and relieve their respective commanding officers;

 

  1. Disarm the Ampatuan clan’s private army;  

 

  1. Order the DILG to suspend the Ampatuans from their government positions and responsibilities while investigations on the massacre are ongoing; and

 

  1. Allow independent national and international investigation/fact-finding missions on the incident and guarantee the safety and security of the participants.

 

Finally, MCPA calls on the Moro and non-Moro masses to unite and stand in solidarity with the victims of the Maguindanao massacre and all victims of the culture of impunity.  The culture of impunity is a vicious attack on the people’s civil and political rights.  It must be stopped.  It must be defeated.

 

*****

  

Reference: 

 

Antonio Liongson

National Coordinator

Human Rights Program

Moro-Christian People’s Alliance

Mobile Phone: 09152844654

 

     
     
     
           
           

Human rights group decries justice for lawyers and all other victims of Maguindanao Massacre

Cotabato City- Human rights group here mourns over the unexpected and inhumane killing of human rights lawyers Concepcion Brizuela and Cynthia Oquindo including many other civilians in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Monday this week.

Atty. Brizuela not only served Lumads in North Cotabato who are victims of land grabbing by political clans, she had also unselfishly served Moro people who became victims of state terrorism.

Among cases she facilitated is the illegal arrest of Emran Gumanod who was accused as mastermind of bombing in Davao City, and after a month Gumanod was freed. She served also as lawyer to Faudzia Musa, Suara Bangsamoro member who is also a victim of illegal arrest and detention.

“We consider death of people’s lawyers like Atty. Conie and Cynthia as a great loss in the movement for social justice against tyrannical rulers, thus we vow to continue their fight until justice is served for the victims of human rights violations” according to the group.

We condemn to the highest possible terms the massacre of more than 60 civilians and call the attention of the international community to pressure the Arroyo administration and punish the murderers.

According to the group, the move of the Arroyo administration to dismantle the CAFGUs and SCAAs in Maguindanao, is not enough. She should lift EO 546 that legitimizes private armies and allows proliferation of arms of politicians. The CAFGUs and SCAAs are used by warlords to abuse their authority and violate human rights.

In the agreement signed into by the GRP and NDFP as product of their peace negotiation, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the government committed to review its policy on creating paramilitary groups.

Around 100 armed men reported to be members of CAFGUs and SCAAs recruited by the Ampatuans and trained by the 6th Infantry Division are accused to have executed the order to kill the civilians.

The Arroyo administration and the 6th Infantry Division have contributed in arming the civilians because of its unjust campaigns and declaration of all-out-wars in Maguindanao and other Moro communities. It had tolerated the culture of violence and impunity for a long time, Arroyo had never punished the perpetrators of human rights violations instead she commended the butchers.

KAWAGIB and various groups in Cotabato City staged indignation rally for the victims of the massacre in which 57 cadavers of women raped, journalists and civilians were recovered in the site of mass grave.######

 

     
           

 

 

 

END IMPUNITY, JUSTICE NOW!

STATEMENT OF THE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS/EDUCATORS
FOR NATIONALISM AND DEMOCRACY ON THE MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE
(CONTEND)

NOVEMBER 27, 2009

The Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy condemn in the strongest possible terms the abominable massacre of at least 57 people, including many women and children, 29 journalists and two human rights lawyers in Maguindanao last November 23, 2009. Without reservation, we also hold the Arroyo regime and its U.S. imperialist ally culpable for such atrocious case of electoral violence.

The armed units that committed such heedless act of violence are made up of the Ampatuan clan's private army in systematic collaboration with Civilian Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGU) and Civilian Volunteers Organization (CVO) that also function as paramilitary units of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army. That the massacre was perpetrated by the Ampatuan ruling clan together with its back up army subsidized by public funds only proves the U.S. Arroyo regime's all-out support for its favored warlords.

The continued hegemony of warlordism in Southern Philippines is not inconsistent with the U.S.-Arroyo regime's internal security plan (Oplan Bantay Laya). Precisely, this plan is aimed at sowing terror in areas where the government perceives it necessary to consolidate its power. For many years, the people of Mindanao have been the target of unspeakable terrors owing to a monolithic national agenda that serves only the local ruling elite and its imperialist allies. Any alternative to this national agenda is thwarted with ferociousness as is also seen in the extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances of activists since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seized power on account of the filipino people's bid for good governance in 2001.

The succeeding years have proven the Arroyo regime no better than the elite faction that it displaced. Given its undeniable weakness amidst an ever growing discontent among the filipino people, the Arroyo clique has no choice but to hold fast to the dictates of its U.S. Imperialist master's global war on terror policy. The U.S. global war on terror is grounded on a strategy of fragmentation—deploying and igniting all kinds of religious, racial and ethnic difference and local political rivalries—in order to ensure the economic, ideological, political and military support to the edifice of capitalism, currently shaken by the financial and real economic crises.

As the laboring people of the world continue to learn more about the sordid division of labor for the singular defense of the current global ruling elite, it becomes imperative for parasites like the local ruling elite represented by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Ampatuans of Maguindanao, among others, to counteract a wager for a renewed system.

We grieve with the families of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre. For this yet another account of human slaughter to be added to the wrongs of history, we demand immediate justice to be brought to its culprits! We call on all freedom-loving advocates to be one with us in bringing down the narrow tyranny that waylays our struggle for genuine democracy, peace and social justice.

A system that sacrifices human needs for profits is the same system that drives those in power to exact atrocious deaths to our people. Defending this kind of system entails malevolent military power. Opposing and transforming it entails our struggle to usher in the emergence of radically new conditions that will grant the flourishing of human lives.

END IMPUNITY!

JUSTICE TO THE VICTIMS OF THE MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE!

STRUGGLE FOR GENUINE DEMOCRACY AND PEACE BASED ON SOCIAL JUSTICE!


 

     
     
           
           

 

URGENT APPEAL/STATEMENT

Women Human Rights Defenders Murdered in the Philippines

The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development mourn the loss of two brave women, human rights defenders. Concepcion ‘Connie’ Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo were among the 57 people murdered on November 23 in Maguindanao, Philippines.
 

Connie and Cynthia joined several family members of Vice Mayor Ishmael Mangudadatu of Buluan and approximately 40 other people, including journalists, to the government Commission on Elections office in Maguindanao, in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). They were going to file Mangudadatu's candidacy for governor in the 2010 elections. It has been reported that 100 armed men stopped the group's convoy on a remote section of highway near the town of Ampatuan where they were abducted and brutally murdered. There is also evidence that some of the victims were sexual assaulted.

Concepcion ‘Connie’ Brizuela was a passionate defender of women’s rights. She was also a caring grandmother who refused to abandon her advocacy work despite death threats. She was a founder and treasurer of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM). She was a well known and respected women’s human rights defender who worked tirelessly to end State violence against women in the Mindanao region, particularly violence committed by military officials, the police and civilian armed groups.

Cynthia Oquendo, a young artistic mother, was also a human rights defender, lawyer and member of UPLM. She was active in social justice movements and was well known for her activism in health-related causes.

This latest incident is an all too familiar reminder of the long history of extra-judicial executions that have occurred with impunity in the Philippines . Since President Arroyo took office in 2001, hundreds of left-wing political party members, human rights activists, journalists, and outspoken clergy have been killed or abducted. Out of those, only six cases have ever been successfully prosecuted even though the military has been implicated in many of them.

On Tuesday 24 November 2009 President Gloria Arroyo ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to deploy units to conduct immediate pursuit of the perpetrators of the gruesome massacre’. She further stated that ‘civilized society has no place for this kind of violence’.

!Take action for Women Human Rights Defenders murdered in Philippines!

The 29th of November is International Day for Women Human Rights Defenders. Please take 5 minutes this week to recognise the corageous and sometimes deadly work of Women Human Rights Defenders. Send a letter to President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines demanding justice for the murdered women Connie Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo.

Send your letter to:

Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph

Copy the following emails of relevant officials and ministers:
chr.delima@yahoo.com, bluetree73@gmail.com, raulgonzalez,_doj@yahoo.com, rvpuno@dilg.gov.ph,

And add your local embassy email from the list (attachment)

A sample letter:

Dear President Arroyo,

Re: Murder of women human rights defenders

I write to express my deep concern about the politically motivated slaughter of at least 57 people in Maguindanao on the 23rd of November 2009. Amongst the 57 massacred were journalists, women and two women human rights defenders – Concepcion ‘Connie’ Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo.

Their murders are the most recent in a history of extra-judicial executions that have occurred with impunity. Human rights defenders have been repeatedly threatened, attacked, disappeared and murdered in the Philippines. The murder of these brave women must not go unpunished.

Reports that state forces and personal militia of the governor, Governor Andal Ampatuan, are complicit in these murders suggest that the pre-existing culture of impunity sanctioned by your government has enabled this tragic outcome.

I therefore call on you to:

§ Ensure all the perpetrators, including those who authorised the murders, are brought to justice;

§ Immediately initiate an impartial investigation by an independent body

§ Ensure the investigation is free from threats and intimidation and free to investigate security forces, police, government personnel and any links to the Governor’s office;

§ Dismantle and disarm paramilitary forces being used as private armies by local warlords nationwide;

§ Implement all structural reforms recommended by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;

§ Ensure independent election observers are given full access to monitor the upcoming elections;

§ Re-commit to and adhere to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

I would appreciate your early reply.

Sincerely,

Name
Kate Lappin
Regional Coordinator
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
Ph: (66) 53 284527
Fax (66) 53 280847
www.apwld.org
Empowering women to use law as an instrument of change and promoting women's human rights in the Asia Pacific region.

Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development
Girl Guides Association, 189/3 Changklan Road, Amphoe Muang, Chiangmai 50100 Thailand,
Tel: (66) 53 284527, 284856, Fax: (66) 53 280847, Website: www.apwld.org

APWLD is a regional women’s human rights network of 180 members in 26 countries of the Asia Pacific region committed to enabling women to use law as an instrument of social change, equality and development.

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

GABRIELA USA CONDEMNS PERPETRATORS OF THE AMPATUAN MASSACRE, AND HOLDS GMA ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE STATE OF WARLORDISM AND CLIMATE OF IMPUNITY IN THE PHILIPPINES

The election-related carnage on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) took the lives of 57 people, 14 women including 2 women lawyers and 17 journalists

San Francisco, CA--10 years ago, a United Nations Assembly resolved to recognize November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) to work towards the end of violence affecting women all over the world. GABRIELA USA members from San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York are taking this day to remember the significance of this international effort to raise awareness about women's issues in the light of the horrific massacre which took place in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, in the island of Mindanao.

The death toll is rising in the massacre of unarmed civilians included lawyers, journalists, and at least 14 women who were not only murdered but also raped, mutilated and beheaded. The bodies were found buried on shallow ground on the side of the road where the 6 vehicle convoy carrying the victims were stopped in broad daylight on November 23rd. The victims where on their way to file election paperwork with the Commission on Elections to challenge the ruling political clan in the upcoming elections.

This incident cannot be separated from the thousands of other human rights violations committed under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime, wherein hundreds of women activists, leaders and community members have been killed, abducted, tortured and disappeared with impunity.

Arroyo's share of responsibility for this massacre is certain as she has repeatedly facilitated and funded armed clan-based militias, utilizing US military aid, and has created the state of impunity in the Philippines where her close political allies could conceive of
carrying out such a heinous crime in broad daylight. In fact, until today, no arrests has been made in the horrific crime, despite the
fact, or because of the fact, that the tractor used to hide the bodies belongs to the local government, controlled by the Ampatuans, GMA’s close allies.

The UN Declaration for the Elimination of Violence Against Women calls for all forms violence, including those condoned by the State. GMA must be held accountable, and we must be vigilant in continuing to demand the arrest, thorough investigation, and prosecution of the perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre. Many believe that the massacre was perpetrated by 100 men led by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., of the Ampatuan clan, which delivered what has been dubbed as the “Maguindanao Miracle” a 100% of the votes for GMA’s slate in the 2007 elections.

Moreover, we must continue to struggle against GMA’s anti-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya II, which provides license for
state-sponsored violence against anyone who asserts their democratic rights. This U.S.-sponsored plan, which calls for the extermination of the “communist insurgency” by 2010, is a formula for continuing impunity for the military and military-sponsored civilian militias to commit human rights violations, especially against those they label as “community-fronts”.

On this 10th anniversary of IDEVAW, GABRIELA- USA recommits to demand an end to U.S. military and financial aid to the GMA regime, who we hold accountable for the illegal abduction and torture of Filipino American woman Melissa Roxas in May of this year, and hundreds of other human rights violations against women and children.

The women of GABRIELA-USA believe that the Ampatuan Massacre is a foreshadow of an escalation in the violence and human rights violations to be expected this election season, and should be a reminder for all, including the international community, to
participate in ensuring clean and honest elections.

This IDEVAW, GABRIELA USA condemns the relentless violence of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime against the Filipino people, especially women and children. We stand in solidarity with women worldwide who are facing violence and will continue fighting for the day in which aggression towards women will no longer be tolerated. And we will work pro-actively to support the election of genuine women’s representatives who will be our partners in this effort.

###

--
--
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) is a mass-based women's organization serving New York City and its surrounding areas. We connect the Filipino diaspora to the women's struggle in the Philippines. We are women of Philippine descent, including those who are migrants, immigrants and US-born. We recognize Filipino women of mixed heritage and adoptees. FiRE is a LGBTIQ-(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer/Questioning) friendly organization that is inclusive of transgender people of Philippine descent. For more information, please visit http://www.firenyc.org.

We are a proud member organization of GABRIELA-USA, the first overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, with babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle in Seattle, WA, and SiGAw in Los Angeles, CA.

FiRE is a member of BAYAN-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. To learn more about BAYAN, please visit http://bayanusa.org/

--
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) is a mass-based women's organization serving New York City and its surrounding areas. We connect the Filipino diaspora to the women's struggle in the Philippines. We are women of Philippine descent, including those who are migrants, immigrants and US-born. We recognize Filipino women of mixed heritage and adoptees. FiRE is a LGBTQI friendly organization that is inclusive of transgender people of Philippine descent. For more information, please visit http://www.firenyc.org.

We are a proud member organization of GABRIELA-USA, the first overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, with babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle in Seattle, WA, and SiGAw in Los Angeles, CA.

FiRE is a member of BAYAN-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. To learn more about BAYAN, please visit http://bayanusa.org/

           
           
**          

 

 
 

Google