Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Stop the Killings in the Philippines rally in Belgium

A letter (below) signed by 28 members of the Belgian parliament was submitted tonight to Philippine Ambassador Christina Ortega by Stop the Killings in the Philippines, Belgium chapter following a rally in Brussels which was attended by almost 1,000 European torch carrying participants to protest the spate of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines tonight 11 Dec 2006.

Hundreds of rallyisht were each carrying a picture poster bearing the picture, the name and the date of killing of the slain Filipino victim.

INTAL Belgium, a human rights watch group that organized the rally had initially sought to gather 750 participants representing the 750 victims of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.

Braving the rain and the cold, the rallyists marched in a torch carrying procession that started from the Brugman Church, situated a few blocks from the Philippine Embassy on Avenue Molière under the heavy downpour or rain. During the short trek toward the Philippine Embassy, the name of each of the victims was announced by loud speaker followed by a bell chime and proceeded in orderly fashion until the whole procession had reached the Embassy.

The protesters then started to chant in unison ""Stop the killings, stop the killings". The chanting was the most emotionally-charged moment of the rally. Some of the protesters were moved to tears. Miriam, a Belgian labor union militant said, "These killings must stop. It is unbelievable that in a so-called democratic country, labor leaders are killed for their belief!"

Police had blocked the Embassy grounds and only 5 representatives of INTAL led by member of Belgian Parliament, Mr Eloi Glorieux were allowed to go through the embasy gates to meet with the Philippine envoy.

The protesters then left each picture poster of the slain Filipino on the Embassy entrance gates as well as on the front ground.

The rally started promptly at 6:30 PM and dispersed after 2 hours. #

Human rights campaign Philippines


Philippine human rights organizations have counted already more than 700 extrajudicial political killings since president Arroyo came to power in January 2001 until mid-2006. In recent years, the number of fatal attacks on members of the legal, progressive people's movement has increased. The victims are trade union leaders, human rights activists, church people and leaders of peasant and women's organizations. Among them are also numerous lawyers and journalists.

The killings happen in a climate of impunity. Culprits are never or seldom sentenced. There are often indications that elements from the army are involved. And yet, military officers who have been justifying the killings in general terms have been decorated and promoted.

The Philippine government seems to be indifferent to the killings. To the contrary, official declarations often criminalize the whole people's movement creating a climate that encourages further killings.

The Philippines is a country where abject poverty is still a reality and social inequities are huge. In these circumstances, people who advocate social justice have to be listened to and protected. Only the promotion of justice can solve the social conflicts.

Stop the killings!

The Philippine authorities have to protect the right to life by conducting prompt, thorough, impartial and effective investigations of all political killings. Moreover, they have to take decisive action in order to prevent more killings from taking place.

www.stopthekillings.be - info@stopthekillings.be – www.stopthekillings.org

ACV Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde, ACV Internationale Werkgroep, Algemene Centrale ABVV Limburg, Bevrijde Wereld, Derde Wereldraad Overpelt, Filippijnengroepen België, intal, KAB Filippijnengroep, KWIA, LBC Brussel, Progress Lawyers Network, Steunfonds Filippijnen Overpelt, UCOS, 't Uilekot vzw, Ugnayan ng mga Pilipino sa Belgium (UPB), Vrede vzw, Wereldsolidariteit Brussel, Wereldsolidariteit Leuven