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New Zealanders demand surfacing of missing activists, release of all political prisoners

Paper cranes, desaparecidos, and political prisoners in the Philippines

30th of August is International Day of the Disappeared. Tomorrow, 21st of August, Ninoy Aquino Day will again be observed, commemorating the life and death of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

On this occasion, the Philippines Solidarity Network together with faith-based justice and peace advocates in New Zealand reiterate their appeal for President Benigno Aquino III to end human rights abuses.

“Since Aquino came to power in 2010, we have joined the international community in challenging him to honour his father by heeding the appeals to stop the extra-judicial killings, free political prisoners and surface victims of involuntary disappearances,” Murray Horton, Secretary of Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa, said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Last July, New Zealand-based Korean Pastor Kyoung Gyun Han represented the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines.

“It was a big conference of over 200 people from around the globe. It is such an honour to be part of a global network including churches actively supporting the Filipino people’s quest for justice and peace.”

“Coming back to New Zealand, I am committed to watch out Philippine situation, engage in solidarity action and strengthen migrants’ ministry particularly in Auckland and Christ church where there are now around 1,000 Filipinos working to help rebuild the quake-devastated city,” Rev. Han, who is the PCANZ Asian Ministries Coordinator, noted during his report-back meeting with Auckland Philippines Solidarity

psn_newzealand01Rev. Han also met recently with APS members and representatives of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and The Methodist Church about action plans to support justice and peace quest in the Philippines.

They lamented the fact that far from Aquino’s 2010 election promise to deliver justice for human rights victims of past regimes, his three-year administration now holds a record of 142 extra-judicial killings, 540 illegal arrests, 76 cases of torture, 30,678 forced evacuations and 31,417 cases of threats, harassment and intimidation, among others.

In solidarity with victims’ families, they made paper cranes — Japanese origami — in support of the campaign to Surface James Balao and all victims of enforced disappearances.

Based on the ancient Japanese legend that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, they sought the help of Japanese friends to demonstrate how to make paper cranes so they can express support for all the families awaiting the return of their loved ones who have been abducted by state agents.

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