Karapatan at Berlin human rights conference: Political killings, committed with impunity, continue in the Philippines
In a conference organized by German human rights advocates and church workers in Berlin, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay called on the international community to support the call for justice for the 282 victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, including the 49 Lumad killed under the Aquino administration.
“The palpable imprints of Marcos’ martial law continue to exist, as political killings perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and their paramilitary groups continue unabated. Pres. Aquino’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan has resulted to killings, illegal arrests and detention, torture, forcible evacuation of whole communities, among others. These violations, committed with impunity, have to stop,” Palabay said.
The conference organized by the German Action for Human Rights in the Philippines (Aktionsbundnis Menschenrechte Philippinen-AMP) was held from September 21-22, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The AMP is a network of Germany-based organizations namely Amnesty International-Germany, Bread for the World, the United Evangelical Mission (UEM) Misereor, Mission Munich, philippinenburo im Asienhaus, and IPON.
Palabay also pointed out that human rights defenders of Karapatan have become targets of the AFP because they stand by the victims of human rights violations, specifically the Lumad in Mindanao. Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay and Karapatan Southern Mindanao Secretary General Honey Mae Suazo have been red tagged, maligned by the AFP through false statements and included in a military “hitlist,” while Karapatan Caraga Secretary General Eliza Pangilinan has been charged with fabricated cases.
Palabay was an invited speaker to the conference with the theme “Democracy – No Guarantee for Human Rights Repression against Civil Society in the Philippines.” Palabay spoke on the impunity of human rights violations against human rights defenders in the Philippines. United Church of Christ in the Philippines General Secretary Bp. Reuel Marigza, also a speaker in the said conference, also appealed to the international community to support the Lumad who were forcibly displaced from their communities due to military operations of the AFP.
Palabay also met Angelika Glockner, a German Parliamentarian and member of the Bundestages’ Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, to brief her on the human rights situation in the Philippines.
“We are also enjoining human rights advocates in Germany and in Europe to demand that the Philippine government issue official invitations to the UN special rapporteurs on extrajudicial killing, human rights defenders and the rights indigenous peoples,” Palabay stated. Karapatan earlier submitted complaints to the UN special procedures on the September 1 killing of Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo, and Emerito Samarca, executive director of Lumad alternative school ALCADEV.
Karapatan welcomes UN special rapporteurs’ statements
Meanwhile, Karapatan welcomed the September 22, 2015 joint statements issued by UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, on the killing of Campos, Sinzo and Samarca.
“Military occupation of civilian institutions and killing of civilians, particularly in places such as schools which should remain safe havens for children from this type of violence, are unacceptable, deplorable and contrary to international human rights and international humanitarian standards,” the Special Rapporteurs said.
The Special Rapporteurs expressed serious concern about the increasingly pervasive insecurity and rising unlawful killings of human rights activists in the conflict-prone regions of the Philippines. Mr. Forst urged the Government to finally accept his repeated requests to visit the country in order to assess the environment in which human rights defenders operate in the Philippines.
UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, also endorsed the two experts’ call. For the full statement of the UN special procedures, please click this link:
“Aquino and his mad dogs in the AFP will try as much as possible to ignore the repeated requests of the UN and other international monitors to investigate the rights abuses in the Philippines. It is our duty, the people’s duty, to persevere to make them accountable for several violations of international humanrights instruments,” Palabay concluded.
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.