on the 61st Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

As we commemorate the 61st United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 2009, we condemn the utter disregard of this government for human life and basic human rights.

Year after year, this government consistently notches up the body count of assassinated activists, critics, perceived political enemies, and ordinary concerned citizens.  Since 2001, there are at least 1,119 victims of political killings.

Seventy-four of the victims of political killings fell this year alone.  Among them are eight peasant activists in Negros Oriental making the province as the worst place for human rights in Central Visayas.

In the whole, there are 94 documented incidents of human rights violations in the region this year.  While it is down from the 153 documented incidents of last year, there is however a leap in number of killings from last year’s only two.

These incidents were committed largely by the units of AFP during counter-insurgency operations when activists are treated as combatants and military targets.  The most notorious of these units is the 79th Infantry Battalion, led by Lt. Col. Bernard Erwin Neri, which is involved in 83% of documented human rights violations.

These incidents have victimized 223 individuals and 161 families in the region.    They are victimized twice over by the perpetrators who blame them for their tragedy even as harassment and vilification continue.  They are also deprived of material support and any assistance for rehabilitation, restitution and justice.

Under such gloom, it it is but necessary to demand from the government accountability and responsibility for the senseless degradation of human rights.  As the government pays homage to human rights, it  must be slapped with its own bloody hand for the culture of lawlessness and impunity reigning over our land.


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