NYCHRP Remembers the Victims of Martial Law in Mindanao; Commits to Defending Human Rights and Fighting Fascism

For Immediate Release

May 26, 2018

Reference: Rodrigo Bacus, Chairperson, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), nychrp@gmail.com

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On May 23, 2018, the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) organized a prayer vigil in front of the Philippine Consulate General. Over two dozen people gathered in memory of the 49 victims of extrajudicial killings in Mindanao. Many also expressed solidarity with victims of forced displacement, illegal detentions and arrests, threats, intimidation, harassment, and many other human rights violations.

One year ago, on May 23, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, promising an end to the imposition in 6 months. The President also promised that martial law would be peaceful with no human rights violations. However, the actual implementation of martial law in the region, and its emboldening of fascist forces throughout the country, would undermine the reality of this promise. Karapatan, a national human rights organizations led by directly impacted people in the Philippines, has documented thousands of human rights violations in Mindanao as a result of martial law. These include 49 extrajudicial killings; 116 frustrated (attempted) extrajudicial killings; 22 torture; 89 illegal arrest and detention,; 9,738 threats, harassment, or intimidation;336,124 indiscriminate firing and bombings; 404, 654 forced evacuations;and 979 forced surrenders. Those who spoke at the prayer vigil highlighted the continued marginalization of Marawi residents, as well as the killing of Fr. Mark Ventura, a relative of a Gabriela New Jersey member.

Martial law continues to be imposed in Mindanao as it was recently extended on December 2017, through a legislative vote which survived a challenge to its constitutionality in the Philippine Supreme Court.

Solidarity allies noted that Duterte’s fascism was not limited to Mindanao and the Philippines. The Philippines has growing ties with other human rights violators in the world, particularly Israel. Some facts include: 1. The Philippines was the only Asian country to support UN Resolution 181 in 1947, the Partition of Palestine and creation of the State of Israel. 2. The Philippines recognized Israel and established diplomatic relations in 1957. 3. Although the Philippines voted in favor of a UN Resolution last week to investigate war crimes committed at the Gaza border, Duterte’s administration has also indicated that they plan on moving their embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel following the US’ decision. 4. On the third week of April 2018, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and specifically the Philippine Navy bought missiles, armored personnel carriers and radar from Israeli arms firms. Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong stated specifically that these missiles would be used for counter-terrorism efforts. 5. Duterte has openly stated that “In the matters of arms..do not buy from anyone except from Israel,” again explicitly bought for use in his 3 wars against the Filipino people. 6. Last week, in his greetings to the organizer of the “Israel and Philippines Friendship Celebration,” Duterte gushed for his ties to Israel: “For many years, our people have shared historical ties rooted in kindness and compassion for humanity. Bonded by mutual respect for our cultures and beneficial exchanges between our countries, we have laid the foundations for an enduring and flourishing partnership. Our collective efforts have borne fruit and resulted to significant progress in promoting political dialogue and enhancing trade, tourism, and business between our nations. As we face the challenges ahead we look forward to closely working with you in strengthening and developing our bilateral relations for the benefit and welfare of our peoples.”

At the end of the prayer vigil, participants committed to condemn the continued human rights violations of President Duterte, responding to the call to expose and oppose fascism, led by the Malaya Movement, on June 3rd – the same day as the annual celebration of Philippine independence in New York City.

NYCHRP and other human rights advocates call for the lifting of martial law in Mindanao and an end to the killings and other human rights violations.

#NeverAgainToMartialLaw #StandWithMarawi #StoptheKillingsPH

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