The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) strongly condemns the extrajudicial killings of our 2 Filipina colleagues and an unprecedented number of journalists and civilians in the Maguindanao massacre last 23 November 2009 by local warlords and paramilitary groups.
Attorneys Consuelo Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo, who were active members of our Philippine affiliate, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), were murdered while exercising their democratic rights as well as the duties of our legal profession
We are appalled by this latest horrible attack on our colleagues and condemn the continuing climate of impunity that has besieged the Filipino people by state agents or clans closely associated with the government of President Gloria Arroyo.
The IADL has been monitoring these attacks with grave concern, which now include 26 lawyers killed and 56 other lawyers who have been persecuted and intimidated by arrests, threats, surveillance and labeling since 2001.
These atrocious attacks are part of other human rights violations targeting farmers, workers, partylist leaders, activists, community organizers, churchpeople, human rights and peace workers, and other human rights defenders.
Since 2001, when Arroyo came to power, credible reports indicate that 1,118 persons have been extrajudicially killed, 204 disappeared, 1,026 tortured, and 1,932 illegally arrested. Scores of others fell victims to various forms of human rights violations by elements associated with the government. We find these continuing attacks on human rights simply totally unacceptable
These killings and systematic human rights violations are engendered by the counterinsurgency program of the Philippine government, as confirmed by findings of UN special rapporteurs and international fact-finding missions. This program led or encouraged the creation of pro-government paramilitary groups that have been terrorizing local communities allegedly sympathetic to the progressive movement.
The killings in Maguindanao are not only the result of a local political conflict but also the direct consequence of the policy conducted by the present administration in the Philippines of an all-out war against the progressive and peoples movement. This policy has led to a virtual standstill of the peace negotiations between the Arroyo government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The US and the EU have supported these unjust policies conducted by the Arroyo administration by criminalising and labelling legitimate organisations and leaders of the progressive movement such as Prof. Jose Maria Sison, NDFP chief political consultant, by including them in the so-called “terrorist” listings. Moreover, the US has a direct military presence and intervention through the Visiting Forces Agreement.
This support to the Arroyo administration provides direct political, moral and even military basis for the total war against the Philippine progressive movement. The IADL urges the United States and the European Union to immediately end the support given to the Arroyo government.
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) RESOLVES, through its Bureau in present session:
(1) to continue to firmly support the responses of our affiliate NUPL in regard to these killings and attacks;
(2) to call on all its member associations all over the world to spread the truth on these issues;
(3) to send to the Philippines a mission of international lawyers to represent IADL and register its protest and speak with Philippine authorities and bar associations;
(4) to continuously monitor the situation, contribute to the efforts to address impunity, and make all those responsible for these atrocities and human rights violations accountable before various legal forums.
29 November 2009, London, United Kingdom
For the IADL:
Jeanne Mirer (USA), President
Osamu Niikura (Japan), Secretary General
Joan Roig Plans (Catalonia), Treasurer
Roland Weyl (France), First Vice President
Mohammed Bentoumi (Algeria)
Evelyn Durmeyer (Austria)
Jan Fermon (Belgium)
Yosif Geron (Bulgaria)
Augustin Kemadjou (Cameroon)
Vijender Jain (India)
Sabah Al-Mukhtar (Iraq)
Micol Savia (Italy)
Fabio Marcelli (Italy)
Edre U. Olalia (Philippines)
Vanessa Ramos (Puerto Rico)
Max Boqwana (South Africa)
Richard Harvey (United Kingdom)
Marjorie Cohn (USA)
Lennox Hinds (USA)
Beth Lyons (USA)
Dao Tri Uc (Vietnam)