Hustisya! Express Solidarity with Families of Ampatuan Massacre Victims, Urge Aquino to Dismantle Paramilitary Groups (PR)

News Release
November 23, 2010

GENERAL SANTOS CITY– Families of victims of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations under the banner of Hustisya! (Unity for Justice) expressed solidarity  to the families of the Ampatuan massacre victims as they join the different activities today one year after the gruesome massacre of 57 individuals.

Hustisya! national chairperson Evangeline Hernandez went to Mindanao to join the families and friends in the activities today, including the caravan from General Santos going to Maguindanao where they will offer prayers and messages to the families.

In Manila, a torch march will commence at Morayta going to Mendiola led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. Victims and their families shall join both activities, as well as in activities held in different parts of the country.

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“On behalf of all the families of victims of political repression, we express our sympathy and solidarity will all the victims, and demand that justice may finally be given to all the victims and their families,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez is mother of Benjaline Hernandez, deputy secretary general of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, massacred along with two others while on a fact-finding mission in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato in 2002.

“We understand the pain of losing a loved one, and not getting any justice after long years of waiting. Let us not allow this to happen again and again to every family, especially to the families of the Ampatuan massacre victims. They need justice now,” she said.

Aquino told: Dismantle para-military groups, prosecute Arroyo

Hustisya! strongly called for the dismantling of para-military groups, which serve as auxiliary groups for the military, as they are being used to sow fear and terror among the people.

“Allowing such to exist and persist despite countless cases of human rights violations including the Ampatuan massacre perpetuates state-sponsored violence. They are far more dangerous than so-called private armies because in the first place, they are allowed to exist by the state,” Hernandez said.

AFP said that it will not dismantle the para-military groups sends a chilling effect to the victims and the people.

“Aquino’s sincerity in ending impunity and warlordism begins with the dismantling of these armed groups,” she added.

The group also demanded to prosecute not only the Ampatuans but also president-turned-congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Thousands were killed, including 58 in the Ampatuan massacre, and Arroyo as the former commander-in-chief of the AFP sits comfortably in the halls of Congress? As the AFP’s present commander-in-chief, Pres. Aquino should know the bloody hand of Arroyo in all the killings. Arroyo should be prosecuted immediately,” Hernandez ended.

Hustisya! said it shall continue to call for justice, as long as it remains elusive to the victims of the Ampatuan massacre, and to all victims of state-sponsored violence.

Hustisya! is a national organizations of victims, their families and supporters of victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of political repression. It was founded in 2006 at the height of extrajudicial killings under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Now, it continues as an organization that shall gather and unite all victims of political repression under any government, with chapters in almost all regions of the country composed of victims, their families and supporters.

Evangeline Hernandez
Hustisya! national chairperson

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