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Human Rights Groups Cry Justice

August 25, 2004 · 

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A human rights defender, Rashid Manahan, was killed in broad daylight yesterday infront of Ponce Suites, Bajada, Davao City. Manahan was with Prof. Nymia Simbulan, Executive Director of Philrights and Ms. Martha Alvarez, a representative of the European Union. The three were to attend a forum against the death penalty and salvaging at UP Mindanao.
“We condemn the killing of Rashid Manahan, the coordinator of Mamamayang Tutol sa Bitay (MTB-Davao). The killers must be brought to justice, ” said Dr. Aurora A. Parong, Executive Director of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and member of the Board of Philrights.

Some quarters point to the Davao Death Squad as the perpetrator of the killing.

In the book “State Violence in the Philippines, An Alternative Report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee”, the Davao Death Squad had been linked to more than a hundred unsolved vigilante killings of suspected criminals or drug pushers in Davao since mid 1990s. Fr. Shay Cullen of PREDA said that some of the victims of salvaging in Davao were children.

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) also reported to the United Nations Human Rights Committee the killing of several human rights defenders, one of the most known has been the killing of human rights defender Eden Marcellana in Mindoro.

The UN Human Rights Committee in its Concluding Observations during the 79th Session on the Philippines in October 2003 asked the Philippine government to “provide information on the cases of Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy and the execution of 11 persons on Commonwealth Avenue, Manila in 1995.” To date, the killers of Marcellana have not been brought to justice and the Kuratong Baleleng case has not been resolved.

The book ” State Violence in the Philippines” also contained reports of Ms. Marlea Munez of WEDPRO about violence against women including trafficking in women. The book to be launched this week by the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC) at Sulo Hotel was authored by PREDA, WEDPRO, TFDP and OMCT, a Geneva Based international human rights organization.

“Journalists and human rights defenders are at high risk. The killings continue and the perpetrators are scot-free. President Arroyo has to take decisive actions to get the murderers”, said Dr. Parong.

Patrick Mutzenberg of OMCT said that the UN Committee recommendations must be seriously looked into by the Philippine government.

TFDP also documented 2,096 victims of human rights violations from January to June 2004 – 12 killed, 310 illegally arrested and detained, 21 tortured, 601 victims of violent dispersal of rallies, 512 victims of harassment. END

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