Petition to stop killings tops 1000 signatories
(Hong Kong, July 14, 2006) A petition calling for the Philippines government to put a stop to the ongoing killings of human rights defenders, labour leaders, journalists, priests and lawyers there topped 1000 signatories on Friday.
The petition, which was launched just over a week ago, is demanding immediate investigations into the killings and guaranteed protection for witnesses and their families.
"The government has increasingly been criticised for not investigating the murders of political activists and refusing to pay compensation to the victims. In response, its silence has been deafening," Kate Hurst, urgent appeals coordinator at the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), said.
"Most of the victims of targetted killings in the Philippines in recent years have been lawyers, journalists, clergy and church workers, peasants and opposition politicians who have been advocates for the poor," Hurst said.
"The government's response has been entirely inadequate. This must change: only with its strong intervention will the killings stop," she said.
The Hong Kong-based regional rights group has pointed out that the country's witness protection law, Republic Act 6981, does not appear to be operative, as witnesses of killings and victims' relatives are also gunned down with impunity.
"Where there is no witness protection there is no justice," Hurst said.
Signatories to the petition from across the Philippines and around the world have voiced their frustration at the government's inaction over the killings, while displaying their support and compassion for the victims and their loved ones.
"It is our paramount duty to preserve life to the fullest," Vida Marie Caoile-Murayao of the Philippines writes.
"This petition expresses the need for serious international pressure on a president and government that has failed to respect the truth and do justice," Fr. Daniel Kroger in Manila says, adding that he believes that the military is ordering the killings and carrying them out through vigilante groups.
Sally Rodda of the Australian Writers Guild urges the Pope, one of the petition's recipients, to use his voice and speak out, recalling the inaction of the church when Indonesian troops massacred innocent civilians in East Timor.
"We are watching, we are listening, and we are now SPEAKING--no more killing!" Rev. Dr. Norman R. Broadbent of the United States urges.
H. Bos of the Dutch Labour Party says that his party will call on all political groups in the Netherlands to act for an end to the killings in the Philippines.
The online petition, which was drafted by the AHRC in cooperation with Filipino groups in Hong Kong, can be viewed and signed at: www.pinoyhr.net.
Meanwhile, more than 500 people have signed a petition launched by the AHRC and human rights defenders in Thailand calling for reform of the Department of Special Investigation there, which can be viewed and signed at: http://thailand.ahrchk.net/dsi_petition/
The AHRC is calling on persons concerned for the lives of human rights defenders and social activists in Asia to sign both petitions.
The petition on Thailand highlights the unsolved abduction of human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit and two environmentalists, Phra Supoj Suwajo and Charoen Wat-aksorn, there.
Both petitions and lists of signatories are due to be submitted to the government authorities of the Philippines and Thailand.
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About AHRC The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
Posted on 2006-07-14